I get a question in regards to our teachings here at the facility that drives me crazy. The question is: ”Do you teach a launch angle swing?” Today I want to talk about why this question bothers me and what it means.
The Answer: Yes 1000%
In all honesty, I’m a big fan of launch angles and I would bet that every coach in the world is too. The reason being is that every ball that has ever been put in play over the past 150 plus years has had a launch angle. Ground balls, line drives and fly balls all have something in common: they all have launch angles. The only ball that we swing at that doesn’t: a ball we miss. So, the short answer to the question is yes, I’m a big fan of putting the ball in play.
While I understand what people mean when they ask this question, I want to talk today about what they get wrong when asking this question and hopefully clear up some of the confusion.
WHAT PEOPLE GET WRONG The definition of launch angles: When people hear the term launch angle, they often think of flyballs. However, as I stated, every ball in play has one. Launch angle simply refers to the angle of the ball off of the bat. It really is just a fancy way of measuring if the ball was a ground ball, line drive or flyball. Launch angles range from -90 to 90 degrees. Below are the ranges for launch angles: Ground ball: 10 degrees and below Line drives: 10-25 degrees Flyballs: 26 and above
WHY THE CONFUSION? I believe that the confusion happened as a result of a perfect storm of technology, analytics, and hitters approach at the plate around 10 years ago. As technology improved, hitters began to possess the tools to see what actually happened when they hit. They realized that the old school method of swinging down on the ball wasn’t what was actually happening when they had success. Around the same time, data driven people in the game started realizing that hitting the ball in the air was much more valuable than hitting the ball on the ground. Also, around this time, the technology to measure the angle of the ball off of the bat came of age. So, when the average baseball fan turned on a game 5 years ago, the began seeing more hitters trying to drive the ball in the air along with commentators mentioning launch angle. This has led to the question that makes me cringe.