The above clip which illustrates two problems that all players face:
1. Ballistic athletic movement patterns have a lot in common with insanity.
2. The downside of trial and error.
This player exhibits classic bat drag along with a slow swing. A slow swing versus a quick swing. Significant difference. Bat speed has virtually nothing to do with swing quickness. So this player may have good bat speed but does not have swing quickness.
One of the greatest “discoveries” with respect to optimally swinging a bat was NOT made by me. It happened in January or 2000. At that time I had a training facility located in Branford Connecticut and held 2 day intensive training seminars. At this seminar was a father (Troy) and son (Corey, 12 years old) who flew in from Colorado to attend.
Now you have to understand that for someone to fly in from Colorado with their son for a two day training session is someone who wants to do everything possible to make sure his son has every opportunity to reach his full potential.
Troy is the person who made the “discovery”. It was the end of the second day and he pulled out of his briefcase a stack of photographs that he had taken of Little League players at a specific point in their swing. He showed me the difference between what he considered higher level players and lower-level players and there was a significant difference at that point in the swing.
At the time I did not think this was a great “discovery”. It was only after I’d spent more time looking at video high-level players versus low level players and came to the conclusion that what Troy had found was one of the keys to developing a high-level swing. I coined the term “bat drag” to describe what Troy had discovered.
Backtrack became the foundation for understanding other parts of the swing which became PCRW (Posture Connection Rotation Whip). Bat drag turned into understanding the importance of Connection.
For those who wish to read more there’s a very interesting (what I consider interesting anyway) article that was published in a Colorado newspaper about Troy which I captured in a post on the SETPRO forums:
Back to the hitter shown in the clip
The problem with ballistic athletic movements is that they are what are called feedforward movement activities. Feedforward meaning there is very little ability for the brain to actually control the movement in real-time. And therefore the movement is preprogrammed.
This is also called automaticity. Because it’s preprogrammed with virtually no process able (consciously by the brain) feedback occurring it becomes very difficult to make corrections in real time. Both throwing type activities and swing type activities are ballistic and are subject to this problem.
Proprioception and kinesthetic awareness are the feedback mechanisms that control movement. Unfortunately with ballistic activities these feedback systems fail because the brain cannot process this feedback in real-time. This is where constraints type training becomes imperative.
I personally experienced this phenomena for/problem in my attempts to improve my swing. My swing suffered the same issues as the player in the video. I was eventually able to make significant improvement and minimize bat drag and improve swing quickness but it took a huge amount of effort and experimentation and reinforced to me personally that once a swing pattern or throw pattern becomes ingrained in a player it becomes almost impossible to make significant changes.
Trial and error activity such as stepping into the cage and taking swings and sometimes connecting and receiving video game type feedback has the potential to reinforce pre-existing bad movement pattern.
The more stress on the player the greater the chance that the player’s movement pattern will regress/revert to the established (undesirable?) movement pattern. This is fundamental to the concept that movement is determined by three factors, environment, ability, and skill. In the case of this player is being put into an environment that forces him to revert back to swing mechanics that are ingrained and in this case very poor swing mechanics.
You can swing/throw weighted implements, lift weights, swing or throw with intent and NOT develop optimal mechanics. What you do is become stronger quicker within existing movement pattern that is less than optimal.
What are optimum mechanics?
For pitcher it’s the combination of velocity (speed and control) and movement that transfers to actual game conditions.
For hitter it’s the ability to make adjustments without compromising swing quickness, swing consistency, and bat speed that transfers to actual game conditions.
This player (in the video) is flawed with respect to what constitutes a high-level swing. And all the home run “videogame swings” in the world are not going to correct it.
The the lack of real-time knowledgeable/creditable feedback for ballistic movements can lead to a variation of Einstein’s definition of insanity:
Performing the same movement over and over again and thinking you have achieved different results.