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Being a Coach: The Pendulum Swing in Baseball

Updated: Jun 1, 2020

I want to preface this post with I have no disagreement or opinion on what Trey Hannam is talking about here. I do not know Trey either. I have no problem with his method or anything he shares. He shares tons of valuable content that is helpful for coaches and players. I simply am using this as an example.

I like what this guy is saying, it's good info. However, this is an example of a pendulum swing moment in baseball. Teaching hitting more specifically. Finding external cues that can work for some guys. Then coaches get married to cues or one particular movement. What you make your primary principles for your program or organization is really important. You can't be married to just one movement or one cue. And you don't want to get married to the wrong movement, or the wrong driver.

Coaches will look at this video and say "yeah I agree!" because what Trey is saying here is good content. Using bio-mechanical principles to explain movement and what is causing that movement. He does an awesome job deploying external cues while also understanding internal cues as drivers of movement. Where coaches go wrong is hearing "What has to accelerate? The bat. What's closer to the barrel? Top hand." Then coaches will use confirmation bias as to why they want to teach top hand to all hitters and make that primary work and focus of every hitter. Or they will like that cue of "throw the frisbee, throw the rock" so much that it's all they will use to attempt to teach hitters movement. They'll use it for all hitters, and the coach will simplify the process for himself but not the players. And it just doesn't work like that.

Those type of hitting coaches in professional baseball were pushed out and are continuously pushed out . Those types of hitting coaches at amateur levels only make impacts on a limited number of hitters. It is your job as a hitting coach to see these types of videos or movements in a swing and be able to translate them to be relatable and understandable for your hitters. So certain buzz words of external cues could catch fire and really seem useful in some programs and you may see good results for a year or two. Or maybe you saw players make huge jumps, but a couple got worse. Don't fall in love with buzz words to describe movement. Make it factual, if you're using broad adjectives like "smooth, clean or fast" you are probably not pinpointing your description of movement. Sure it looks smooth, clean or fast, but why? Is it supported through biomechanical principles? Is there bat sensor data to back it up? Force plate data, VIDEO, etc.

The Pendulum Swing Back

This moves to guys properly using language of external and internal cues, by using assessments of the bat and body and partnering with the player on how they attack their work by agreeing on semantics. Where you could see problems is key-holing that approach on assessments and thinking any inefficiency of the bat or body will need to be "fixed". Where some good coaches get into trouble is becoming over efficient and over correcting. I mean that by allowing assessment tools to lead the training program, not letting the on field performance lead the training. Nobody is walking through the door to ace an assessment. Their walking through the door to win on the field. If he can't disassociate in an assessment, make sure he can't do it in game too. Use game video, don't let the assessment be the only check. It's important the coaches don't let assessments run the culture of training. Sure you improved a couple of metrics from a bat sensor or body assessment, but did the player start performing better on the field because of it?

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