One Size Does Not Fit All
Rarely, does one size ever fit all. As this rule is true in so many aspects of life, it also rings true when it comes to hitting. There is no one way, one style or one method that works for every hitter.
Over the years, I have been exposed to several different methods of hitting by various coaches. With each coach came a new “style” of hitting that was used across the entire lineup. It was not until I went away to play college ball that I realized that although each coach had their hitting philosophy, its didn’t necessarily work for everyone or result in a lineup full of incredible hitters. I played in Iowa for a year under a coach with a background as a pitcher. He possessed great overall coaching skills, but lacked knowledge, experience, and the expertise required for coaching hitters. It was at that time, that I decided to take it upon myself to understand my own swing and how to use it in a way that worked for me personally.
The following year, I changed schools and was given the green light to “just hit.” Over these two years I experimented with several “styles” of hitting and started to gain a better understanding of my swing. I had the best offensive years in my career during this time and looking back, know this was due to understanding myself as a hitter, my mechanics, my strengths and my weaknesses...all in my own way.
Defensively, I was a catcher/3rd basemen and offensively, I was put in a position to hit for power. During this time in baseball, catchers were not looked at as key offensive producers and were often told to stay with a spread, balanced stance in order to “just put the ball in play.” Personally, I wanted more and was not content to be this type of hitter. During these 2 years, I studied how the body should physically move to achieve “power” positions which would allow me to utilize all my strength and leverage the full use of my limbs. It was at this time in my career that I committed to becoming a hitter that specialized in “Powerage.” Hitting with power and for average IS possible, it simply takes understanding, dedication and hard work.
Before my “Powerage” break through, again, I played for several different coaches and each time, I was taught their way of hitting. Each year I played for that coach, I worked and succeeded at hitting in the way that they taught me, but I always felt that something was missing. Fast forward to today, and I apply this same understanding, feeling and philosophy when I have hitters who come to me with a specific issues they are experiencing. Our session starts with a specific drill that allows them to physically feel their swing, and forces them to focus on their body and the movements required to produce the hitting result they have been looking for. After 4,5,6 repetitions, you can actually see their swing slow down but at the same time, their mind begins to speed up as they are thinking about how certain body parts are supposed to move. They become a conscious hitter. Once the brain starts to get involved, they begin to understand the mind-body connection and can tell an isolated body part to move a specific way, resulting in a slower overall movement. In a conscious hitting state, their entire body moves slower versus how their body moves in a relaxed, unconscious state.
The concept of mind-body connection and developing the ability to tell your body to move a certain way is the same approach that I personally took when I played for different coaches. They wanted to see a specific style of hitting, but it was forced. With a forced style, my body did not move how it should and left my swing feeling incomplete. Being consciously aware of this lack, is what forced me to look inward and find a balance between being a coachable player and a conscious hitter.
Every hitter is different and their body moves in a unique way. If more coaches based their training and coaching techniques on this foundation, more players would have the opportunity to become conscious hitters and have a better understanding of their own unique swing. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not claiming to have created a new or even improved way of hitting that has never been taught or discovered before. I am simply saying that it all boils down to the fact that there is a specific position that MUST be achieved in order to give the hitter the most optimal chance of squaring up the ball at the point of contact. This is not a new method of hitting and has been a fundamental concept in baseball since the birth of the game. What a hitter does prior to contact and immediately after, is what can affect that point of contact. Your stance, bat grip, weight distribution, feet position, all play a crucial role in achieving full utilization of the power our bodies can produce. I can sum up my personal experience by saying that what may have worked for some of my coaches, may not have been the right fit for me based on my body composition and the resulting movements. This is where my hitting philosophy starts.
You can break down hitters into several categories ranging from contact hitters, power hitters, hitter that have trouble with off-speed pitches, hitters that shift their weight too far forward, hitters that pull their front shoulder out, etc. You can go on for days with all the issues that plague hitters, or even hitters that just want to hit wit h more power and maintain their swing. No one “style” fixes all these issues, but learning a process that addresses each, is possible. Learning how the hitter moves from the start of their swing to their follow through, allows me to see the specific way that their feet, knees, hips, torso/core, shoulders, elbows, wrists, and head moves in sequence to produce their unique swing. Sure, it’s possible for a hitter to make contact every at bat, but if their body isn’t moving properly on its way to the ball, they are not getting full use of their body in their swing which often results in the “something is missing” mindset.
The RAW MVMT process provides a base “method” for breaking down all the components into its most basic, RAW form of movement. Using this process, my goal is to teach hitters how to understand their own body and how it moves in relation to their swing. Teaching hitters to be consciously aware of their bodies will allow them to harness all possible power from their movements into that swing. RAW MVMT is not a “style” or “training method”, but a systematic basis for learning how to use our bodies to achieve maximal output.