My biggest job as an instructor is to educate my players. I want each and every player that I work with to understand their swing, their approach, etc to the best of their abilities. This is simply because the vast majority of swings that my hitters take will be outside of my facility, and the only way for them to improve is to truly understand what can make them better. The hitters that do the best with what I teach are the ones who overuse the word “why.” Let me explain.
Someone once told me that the 6 deadliest words are: “That’s the way its always been.” This could not be truer in baseball. The sport, and hitting in particular, are going through somewhat of a “revolution”. The typical wisdom about hitting is changing. The terms “Launch Angle”, “Exit Velocity”, Flyball revolution, etc. highlight the perceived change that are going on in the game. However, hitting really hasn’t changed over the past 150 years. Much of what the great hitters from 100 years ago are the same as what the greats of today’s game do. However, we have so much more information and technology that can highlight what good hitters actually do, rather than relying on theories.
In the coaching world, baseball has never been so contentious. There are the old school coaches fighting with the new school coaches, hitting gurus getting into online fights like kids over mechanics, and numbers guys arguing with eye test guys. Why is this? Baseball, like every other sport has never had so much information, so many statistics, and so much technology that can disprove much of the old wisdom. Baseball is improving, yet many who have been around the game for a long time, are trying to hold on to outdated thinking. Baseball is older than any other american sport and is usually the slowest to change, but slowly, people are beginning to.
Going back to my original point, the players who do the best with my instruction are the ones who come in with an open mind and question everything that I tell them. Yes, many of the things that I talk about sound completely backwards from the traditional wisdom surrounding hitting. The board of rules in my facility reads like a list of what bad hitter do, not good hitters. Here are the first 2:
However, as against conventional teachings as some of these things may be, the hitters who succeed the most are the ones who ask me a ton of questions as to why I am teaching them things that are completely different from what they have always been taught. They are eager to learn and don’t close off when they hear something that goes against what they have been taught previously. They can see from exit velocities, launch angles, video, that when they do certain things their swings improve.
I was taught many of the wrong things throughout much of my career. When I began to be introduced to correct information, I fought it because I didn’t want to believe that what I had been taught could be wrong. However, if I didn’t get exposed to correct mechanics and began to question what I had previously been taught, I never would’ve had the opportunity to play professionally.
Think about what has been taught to you over your career. If you have always been told to swing down on the ball or squish the bug, ask yourself why. Don’t simply trust someone because they played at a certain level or have coached for x number of years. Use the technology that we have at our disposal that coaches who came up with many of the fallacies surrounding hitting didn’t have. Watch players, observe what they do and always question the “conventional wisdom” because as soon as we stop learning, we are doomed to failure.