Powerful Baseball Drill & Jack Clark's Gold Nugget
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I'm sitting here listening to a 17 year power hitting veteran discuss a baseball drill ideal for being short to the ball and long through it combined in one simple concept.
Jack Clark played 10 years for the San Francisco Giants, 3 years with the St. Louis Cardinals, 1 year with the New York Yankees, 2 years with the Boston Red Sox, and 2 years with the San Diego Padres, all-the-while accumulating 340 career home runs.
Listening to a behemoth of a man talk about playing with/against Ozzie Smith, The Big Red Machine, Andre Dawson, and just recently helping out at a Whitey Herzog hosted baseball camp who, in his hay-day, saw the likes of Ted Williams, Mickey
Mantle, and Joe DiMaggio; I was thinking, what a tree of baseball knowledge this guy is.
Jack Clark was moving on with break-neck speed at raising the argument about how many things in baseball are played "out-in-front:" fielding a ground ball, bunting a baseball, pitcher's release point, catching the ball, pitchers wanting to get
hitters "out-front" and off balance, etc.
This one baseball drill can help increase bat speed because it stresses the right way to hit, and unfortunately for me, I was never taught this, and quite frankly, was steeped in clouded judgment my whole career until now. Not by any fault than my own, but it's actually found hidden in the game itself, and I just overlooked it.
It was also something even Jack Clark didn't get until after his first 10 years with the Giants!
What is it? Drum-roll please...
If you haven't put two and two together yet, it's a simple Swing Smarter paradigm shift, it's hitting the ball out front. See, I told you it seems elementary, let me elaborate because I don't think we truly know how important this concept is, what this
really means, OR how to apply it.
Think about it, why do we field a ground ball out-in-front, catch a baseball with our glove out-in-front, or bunt a baseball with the barrel out-in-front? Because we need room to adjust, in case the ball takes a bad hop, has late movement on it, or changes planes on it's way to home plate, respectively.
The whole game of baseball is predicated on percentages...
You have to "make room" for adjustments. Hitting is all about probabilities, we talk about this all the time on Swing Smarter dot com, 20% of the baseball hitting drills and skills lead us to 80% of results in the batter's box.
We've seen the physics of hitting a baseball and how difficult, on paper, making contact with the ball really is. A round cylindrical bat and a spherical ball, like opposite ends of a magnet, want to naturally glance off each other. Not to mention
the difficulty added from the pitcher in changing the speed and plane of the baseball to get the hitter out.
Learning how to utilize a baseball drill for making contact out-in-front will do the following 7 things for our swing:
- Increase the percentage of getting a hit because we "make room" for adjustments,
- Boost bat speed because we're going to be shorter to the ball,
- Increase the distance of our drives because we'll be longer through the ball,
- Iron out any weakness in pulling the ball,
- Kills two birds with one stone, creates a short to it, long through swing without fancy gizmos or gadgets,
- Will make us more efficient at handling off speed stuff, and most importantly
- Makes hitting breaking stuff sooooooo much easier!
Baseball Drill WARNING!!!
There are two critical points to discuss before just going out and ripping away at a baseball tee set up in out-in-front fashion...
The first is to resist rolling over too soon. This particular hitting baseball drill has to be done with a palm up/palm down positioning of the hands for as long as possible through the swing plane, in other words, it forces us to stay through the ball or else we roll over.
The second thing is to stay behind the barrel while swinging. It's real easy to fly open with the front hip and shoulder, but we have to fight that urge if we want to Swing Smarter.
How do we stay behind the barrel?
A good analogy to think about is how a fisherman casts out bait while fishing. A fisherman sends his worm out by itself into the water, it would be foolish if he went in after it.
We have to do the same with the barrel, let the barrel go out by itself, it doesn't need the help of a hitter's upper body (drifting), or too much rotation to get the job done.
How does this type of baseball drill ideology help with breaking stuff?
In talking with Jack Clark I asked him how he would approach a guy like Mariano Rivera and his "magical" cutter. Mr. Clark said he only has one pitch...I answered back, but he's got
a fastball and a cutter...Jack Clark shook his head and revealed, well, I group the pitcher's fastest pitches together: fastball, slider, cutter. Then I group the changes and curve balls together.
He went on to explain, as long as you're working out front, you get the baseball before it has a chance to break and do some damage...don't wait till it gets deep, that's what the pitcher wants you to do because he trains his arm everyday to release the ball at a certain point (out-in-front) so the baseball breaks across the plate.
And finally, one other thing, we've all been taught to let an outside pitch get into line with our belly button when making contact, Jack Clark says to, you guessed it, get it out front...NOT as out front as you would a pitch down the middle or inside, but more on the front border of the plate.
What hitting baseball drill do you use to practice it?
You set up a tee just out front of a normal plate, so as to simulate making contact out front. If you line up normally on the tee with the front foot in-line with the suspended ball, you'll hit the ball hard, BUT when you move to hitting live pitching you won't have "made room" and increased the chance of getting a base knock, so Swing Smarter and work on hitting the ball out front.
Here's how you'd set up for a pitch on the inside corner, quite a bit out in front as you can see...
On the flip side of the plate, here's how to set up the baseball drill and hitting an outside pitch, still out front, but closer to the plate than down the middle or on the inside corner. It's similar to those AT&T cell phone commercials, "more bars in more areas."
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