09
23
2016

Introduction to Driveline Hitting

This post was written by Jason Ochart, Driveline Baseball’s Lead Hitting Instructor.

The goals of Driveline hitting are:

1) Create a data-driven program for developing hitters
2) Conduct research to help better understand hitting 

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My background

As a kinesiology student, I studied human movement. As I learned basic movement principles (in particular the fundamentals of biomechanics, motor learning and overall skill development) I came to a harsh realization.  My understanding of the baseball swing was extremely inaccurate. 

As a high school and college player, I fell victim to blindly accepting conventional wisdom regarding the swing (We will discuss some of these myths in later blogs). This angering realization has become more and more common amongst players, due to the advancements in technology and accessibility to video (YouTube launched my sophomore year of high school).

I spent my life trying to squish the bug, swing down, and stay closed (the list goes on) only to see slow motion video and realize that big leaguers aren’t doing any of that.

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So, I decided to disregard all preconceived ideas regarding the swing and began to learn from video, research articles, and some of the great minds who are ahead of the curve. That approach sprung me into a successful stint as a college hitting coach and it eventually led me to Driveline.

Mission:

It is our passion to provide our athletes with the best possible program, not designed by mindless regurgitation of conventional wisdom, bias, and ego, but driven by science and data.

For who?

Driveline is designed for the committed player and coach who understands that improvement and refinement of their skill will come as the result of relentless hard work, not an overnight mechanical fix as advertised by some “gurus.”

How?

At Driveline, we will use any tools we deem useful towards help developing our program and continuing to improve upon it.

Hit Trax

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Hitters receive immediate feedback on exit velocity and launch angle

Diamond Kinetics

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Hitters receive feedback on bat path, bat speed, time to impact, approach angle, among other things

Vision training

Our VR goggles do not come with Dre Beats, but you get the idea

Our VR goggles do not come with Dre Beats, but you get the idea

Edgertronic video

High resolution, high frame rate video for analysis

The goal is to see what is and isn’t working, and make adaptations as we move forward. We have no interest in keeping our discoveries to ourselves. It will be shared for anyone interested in the baseball community. From a scientific perspective, we are aware that we do not know that much about hitters and their training methods, and we are okay with that. The goal of Driveline is to continue learning.

What to expect:

There will be frequent blog posts about our discoveries and our thoughts on relevant topics regarding hitting. We understand that hitting is a sensitive subject for some and conflicting ideologies are often met with irrational anger and contempt. We have no interest in upsetting anyone, but understand that’s inevitable.  You can take or leave our material, it’s no sweat to us. We are loyal to the data.

If you have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to comment below. We are very excited to get going and we appreciate your interest.

Comment
14
Kenny

Will you be doing an overload underload bat speed program?

Kyle Boddy

Yes, we will be using overload/underload bats!

dominik keul

would be interested how high the correlation between hip speed and batspeed is. quite little like in throwing? or is it differently because you can’t have as much separation in hitting. to me hip rotation does two things that can conflict. first is directly pulling the hands around by turning the whole body. second would be pre stretching the upper body.

for the first hip speed is quite beneficial but for the second the degree of separation might be more important.

BTW I experimented with heavier and lighter bats with a batspeed radar and felt with the heavy bat I got better speeds when turning my whole body in unit and use more large muscle groups at once.

with the light bat however I got better results focusing on extreme separation which means less muscles firing at once but more stretch reflex (basically tried to keep the Bat tipped forward and up until hips are almost fully turned like a pitcher does with his arm).

could that be an indicator that the lighter the implement (ball) the more the hip rotation mostly stretches the upper body but the heavier the implement (bat) the bigger the factor of the hips directly pulling around the upper body and hands (slower but stronger move because more muscles fire at once)?

that would mean that there could be a higher influence of hip speed in hitting. could be a reason why hitters separate their turn less from the implement moving than pitchers.

would be cool if you research that.

Regards dominik

Jason Ochart

Dominik,

Thanks for your comments.

Typically, increasing a hitter’s hip rotational velocity will subsequently increase shoulder rotational velocity, hand velocity and ultimately barrel velocity. This is because a hitter utilizes a kinetic link in which the hips, shoulders, and hands (in that order) work together from the ground up to accelerate the barrel. So (along with hip speed) the timing and efficiency of this kinetic link is extremely important in the interaction and acceleration of these segments.

Speaking on the timing, the hips will reach peak velocity before the shoulders (creating whats referred to as “separation”) and then transfer energy upwards as they begin to decelerate, which sends the shoulders to their peak velocity, and so on up to the arms/hands/wrists. So to answer your question, yes the hips pull the hands in the swing. The hands can’t create much force without the help of all the energy created by the rest of the body. They are very much “along for the ride” for most of the swing.

As far as stretching the upper body, the body during a swing definitely utilizes the elasticity of skeletal muscle(in particular those involved in spinal rotation). This “stretch-shortening” cycle is crucial (and puts a lot of stress on muscles and can be blamed for a lot of the oblique injuries with hitters).

For the overload/underload training, research has shown that it can increase bat speed. We plan on doing in-house research about its long-term effectiveness, (and short-term) what it does to movement patterns. I look forward to sharing the results! Thanks again

Jason

Jon Ball

I would love it if you would debunk the myth of hands in the swing. When people teach fast hands it leads to a power v at contact and a slower barrel at impact with a lot less adjustability.

If you get in your stance and move your hands as fast as they can the bat goes nowhere. The bat is driven by your core and shoulders.

Could you please analyze hand movement of the top MLB hitters because I think you will find that the hands simply hold the bat.

Jason Ochart

Jon,

I agree. The hands are surely important in the swing, but overemphasized at times. They (obviously) guide the bat to the ball, and the wrists are the final link of the kinetic chain, but they don’t contribute much to the force production. If a hitter is “throwing hands” before his hips and shoulders, he’s not going to swing very hard..that’s a very disconnected movement pattern. (I heard Coach Heefner at DBU refer to the hands as the “steering wheel”, and the hips and shoulders as the “engine”). I use that metaphor often.

We will blog about hand path/movement and tackle that subject. Thanks a lot for your comment!

Take care,

Jason

dominik keul

Jason I get that the rotation pulls the hands but the question is whether the hips directly pull on the shoulders or whether they merely stretch the trunk muscles.

I want to know why pitchers basically land completely open (so that their hip rotation basically does nothing to DIRECTLY accelerate the shoulders but merely create a stretch while hitters usually land only a little open but while they have some separation they still have most of the hip turn (probably three quarters of it) after heel plant in unison with the shoulders. I hopefully get my message across, my English is not really good.

also second question is whether you think there is an active barrel turn. there are several theories on how the Bat is accelerated. first there is the double pendulum theory basically saying that if you have a circular hand path the centrifugal force causes the Bat to fly out (Nyman)

then there is the crack the whip theory that says you decelerate the hands which causes the Bat to whip forward (Dr Yeager).

and finally a lot on hitting twitter believe that the barrel is turned around the hands and rearward with the elbow slotting and also sometimes rear forearm supination (I think Tewksbary believes that).

Mark Kolner

Great stuff! Can’t wait! 👊👍

Jon Ball

I think you will find that on a perfectly timed swing on a pitch on the inner half of the plate that the hands and wrists do nothing but go along for the ride. I believe that is why most MLB hitters tape their wrists. I think you can have a high level swing with your hands and wrists in casts and not lose an MPH on your bat speed. How about putting some casts on Jack the Gigantor and testing it out.

Actually your arms and arm flexion only help you for timing issues. In actuality you could put casts over the elbows and not lose any bat speed or power on a perfectly timed inside pitch. I will even come up from Portland and get casted up. Then we would really see the end of the Kinetic chain on a high level swing.

Doug jones

Who’s your favorite uncle?

Jason Ochart

You know the answer to that one

Gino Franco

Your going nowhere but up Jason! It makes my day to see you writing on this platform! Listen to his words people.. you might just learn a thing or two!

Doug jones

It tought him everything he knows! I wish he would learn everything I know!!

Bryce Howard

This is awesome! I know nothing about baseball, but I will be following your inevitable success. Keep grinding, and when things get tough, just remember your kind of a big deal in Sweden!

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