“” Connor Hincks - Driveline Baseball

Connor Hincks, Notre Dame

Notre Dame infielder Connor Hincks had always struggled to pull the ball, especially in the air. He struggled cracking the Irish lineup because of it. He knew something needed to change if he wanted to impact the lineup.

Which actually gave him an idea.

An old teammate of his, Jack Zyska, at one point in his career had the same issues. That is, before Zyska went to Driveline.

“In his career, he hadn’t really gotten a lot of playing time,” Hincks said of Zyska. “He was kind of a utility guy that would come off the bench and pinch hit. So he went to Driveline before his senior year, and then he absolutely blew up during the season. He was our four-hole hitter the whole year and led us to the College World Series. So that stuck with me.”

Hincks decided it was his turn.

Arizona hitting lead Conner Watson described him as a run-of-the-mill, bat-to-ball hitter when he got to Driveline. Hincks was so closed off in his swing that he had no choice but to just throw his hands at the ball.

Connor Hincks, August 2023

The duo ended up focusing on the load portion of Hincks’ swing. Hincks would start in an offset closed position with a staggered stance that put his front foot on the chalk of the left-handed batter’s box. When he toe tapped, he would bring his front foot back to a neutral position, and then stride forward.

“That freed him up,” Watson said. “You could tell, there was an athlete in there that was constrained by the way he was moving. By freeing him up, his bat path cleaned up, his ball flight cleaned up, he started pulling the ball in the air, and he started seeing pitches better, too.”

Another unlock for Hincks came during a particularly bad session in the cage. It was a familiar feeling for him, letting his hands do all the work and chopping the ball into the turf in front of him.

“I had never really thought about swinging behind the baseball and turning behind the baseball,” he said. “I’ve always been more of a throw-the-hands-at-the-ball type of guy…I had a conversation in the cage, and they said, ‘On this next pitch, swing behind the baseball.”

On that next pitch, Hincks felt like his barrel stayed in the zone forever and he hit a rocket right back up the middle.

It was a lightbulb moment.

“Within that week I was there, I immediately saw huge improvements in terms of pull-side backspin,” he said, “in addition to having opposite field juice, too.”

Connor Hincks, January 2024

He stayed diligent with the drills he learned at Driveline when he returned to South Bend last fall. He was working his toe tap to make sure he wasn’t closing off his swing. He was turning behind the baseball instead of going and getting the ball in his swing.

He was starting to see results.

“During BP it was just home run, home run, home run to the pull side with backspin,” Hincks said.

The last home run Hincks had hit was in a summer ball game before his freshman year of college. That was four years ago.

He’s got four home runs already this spring for Notre Dame, along with five doubles and three triples, and has found himself penciled into the three-hole of the Irish lineup every day.

He’s a completely different hitter now than he was before he went to Driveline – not because he completely overhauled his swing, but because he and Watson identified some minor flaws that once fixed, led to major improvements.

“People think Driveline is just bat speed. It’s so much more than that,” Hincks said. “It’s approach, it’s body mechanics, it’s hitting intent. You start to understand the relationship between different parts of the body. If you really want to learn about your swing from a scientific level, but also just a baseball level, Driveline is the place to go.

“Never in my life have I gotten information on my swing like that. It really opened my eyes…Through the information I got at Driveline, it really narrowed my goals and narrowed what I wanted to work on in order to make my swing the best it can be.”

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