The Yin Yang of Softball: The Complementary and Combative Nature of Pitchers and Hitters

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The way we teach the art of pitching and hitting here at Baseball Rebellion, can be easily characterized as the Yin Yang effect of seemingly opposing forces that have components of each other within themselves.   We will highlight the similarities and differences within the two teachings and positions and show how without one, the other cannot exist.  A great attribute of Baseball Rebellion is our willingness to work together as a unit to improve the theory and methodology associated with our high level hitting and pitching programs.  Justin and Chas have demonstrated the ability to identify flaws and improve inadequacies in each other’s style and delivery to accelerate players in both programs.  YIN (Justin’s Pitching Theory) and YANG (Chas’s Hitting Theory) work in concert for a common goal:  improving and enhancing the other’s philosophy.  Who’s winning?  Baseball Rebels everywhere.

DING DING! WHO WINS THIS FIGHT?

THE INITIAL SET-UP

DCIM100GOPROYIN:  The game of baseball begins as the pitcher steps on the rubber in preparation to deliver the first pitch of the game.   He’s in complete control of his surroundings and dictates the flow and pace of the game.  As the hitter waits in anticipation of the pitch, the pitcher should be poised, confident, and focused on the execution of his delivery into his desired result. As he stands on the mound with his  back foot hooking the rubber ( see hooking the rubber here), he exhibits a strong upright posture.  His hands are comfortably in front of his body, and he’s completely relaxed with as little tension flowing through the muscles as possible.  Being able to remain calm before each pitch is vital for success. The game is set into motion when the pitcher shifts into his first initial movement.

YANG:  The stance of the hitter is calm and he is in a positive frame of mind.  The hitter is ready to ‘attack’ but we all know that really means ‘react’ to what the pitcher is about to do.  As much as I hate to admit it, the pitcher does control the game’s tempo and what the hitter’s movements must be.  The calm confidence of the hitter’s stance sets the tone for the preparation to swing.  As you can see in the ‘stance’ picture of the hitter, he must look ready to move aggressively into the “building of force” phase of the swing.  Relaxed readiness is a must for any hitter.  The hitter must trust the work and practice of the past and free his mind of technicalities of the swing.   The hitter’s swing is what it is.  He must believe he will be successful.

THE MOVEMENT FORWARD

DCIM100GOPROYIN:  The flow of energy thoughout the entire delivery must start with a smooth transition between moving parts of the body.  The smoothness and relaxed nature of my style will allow the body to work and move together.  The pitcher’s initial movement forward is truly a natural transition of moving parts initially lead by the shifting of the hips towards the target.  The movement of the hips forward is influenced  by the back knee angle set by hooking the rubber. If done properly, the body should feel as if it is falling down the mound.  Trust the fall and allow gravity to control the speed of the move towards the hitter. As the hips move forward, the spine, shoulders, arms, and head all move backwards.   The throwing arm should immediately fall out of the glove and maintain a clean arm swing behind the rubber.  The front side or glove side elbow should rise above the front side shoulder.  Being able to let the arm fall out behind the rubber is essential for  proper separation and timing as the center of your body falls down the mound.  Perfecting the beginning of the delivery allows for the pitcher to achieve optimal hip to shoulder separation at foot strike. Screen Shot 2013-01-24 at 1.40.37 PM 2

YANG:  Mentally, the hitter should be free and clear as he sees the pitcher rock back, lift his leg, and begin his shift towards the plate.  The crowd is silent, total focus is mandatory. The hitter is acutely aware of the game situation and ready to capitalize on any mistake or clue the pitcher will give about location or pitch type.  All ideas of doubt have left long ago, and only an aggressive and confident hitter remains in the box. The hitter’s first movement is an instant move initiated by the lift of the front foot.  Resist the urge to “shift and lift” or rock back in a traditional load.  Many players do this incorrectly and get “stuck” with their front foot in the air and no way to hit.  The rear knee must stay inside the rear foot and the rear kneecap must stay inside the toes of the hitter in a ‘double inside load’ position.  (See the double inside load article HERE)  In a perfect lift, gravity takes over, making this move a muscle relaxing move.  However, this gravity driven falling motion is, initially, extremely taxing on the hitter’s trust in his ability to catch his falling body on his front foot.  One of the first fears a human has is the fear of falling.  Hitters must be tough minded and strong willed to allow them to move in a way that the body generally rejects.  As the front hip of the hitter moves forward, the front shoulder should angle downward slightly while maintaining an upright spine angle.  The initial hip movement and back leg of an elite hitter mirrors exactly the movement of mechanically sound high level pitchers.  The only real difference is the angle of the shoulders and position of the torso.  The downward shoulder tilt, forward weight shift, and vertical spine angle allow the hitter to lengthen their rear oblique and better prepare them for a powerful, rotational, core generated, pelvis turn that pulls the rear leg around as well as, greatly increasing the force generation of the swing.

THE LANDING OR THE CRASH

Screen Shot 2013-01-25 at 5.54.41 PMYIN:  The momentum gained by the center of the pitcher’s mass moving together will come to a crash point when the lead foot of the pitcher strikes the mound.  The initial movement forward allows for the hips to delay and rotate open as late as possible.  And, if the pitcher maintains a backwards spinal angle (upward shoulder tilt) until the point right before foot strike, optimal hip to shoulder separation will be achieved which will lead to a high degree of rotational force. At foot strike, the back foot remains connected to the rubber because the trigger of rotational force has not yet been initiated.  The back leg will be predominately straight with the front knee is slightly flexed. Right before foot strike, the the throwing arm elbow and hand should remain below shoulder level.  As the hips explode open, the arm will naturally go into external rotation and the hand will rotate up above the elbow joint.  The pitcher is now in the perfect position to rotate the torso into position to deliver the baseball.

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DCIM100GOPROYANG:  Once the hitter lands, his front knee must be bent and over his front ankle, but never over the front foot toes or mid-foot.  Failure to reach this optimal position greatly limits the adaptability of the hitter for slight variations in speed. Also, the front foot must be open at least to the 2nd baseman for righties and to the shortstop for lefties.  Without this foot and hip opening movement, the hitter’s ability to turn is greatly reduced. Many low level, hands first styles of hitting, teach hitters to keep the front foot closed but the only body part that really must remain ‘closed’ or ‘on the pitcher’ are the shoulders.  The hitters only job in the landing phase is to make sure he is preparing his front quad to stop his forward movement and drive his front hip back and around his spine.  Hitters do NOT move to hit…they move forward to turn.  This forward moves takes the weight and mass off of the back leg so the rotational muscles of the torso, quad, and glutes of the front leg can accelerate the body around the spine and the barrel upwards into the baseball.  Notice the similarities of the legs between hitters and pitchers at landing.  The only difference is the pitcher is preparing to generate a downward force, so he keeps his upper body weight back.  The hitter is doing just the opposite, so his weight is forward, unweighting the back leg and allowing him to pull his rear leg with his torso in the “explosion of force” phase.

THE EXPLOSION OF FORCE

YIN:  The goal of any pitcher should be to drive the angle of the baseball down into the strike zone with a high level of depth at the end of the pitch.  The buildup of the delivery thus far allows for the pitcher to achieve  late rotation of the trunk around the spine into a downward chest angle.  As the trunk begins to rotate, the throwing arm will externally rotate behind the head and create a whip like action as it propelled forward around the body into release. The front arm of the pitcher will fold back into the body as a result of the chest forcing the arm out of the way. As the pitcher releases the baseball, the chest must drive down over the knee maintaining a neutral spine angle (with no rounding of the shoulders) and the arm must be extended away from the body.  As the trunk rotates, the back foot will release from the rubber and the foot should extend upward.

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YANG:  The goal of any hitter should be to elevate low pitcher’s pitches and drive them deep into the outfield.  This is where hitting becomes ‘harder’ than pitching as we must instantly generate our rotational power and accelerate the bat head rearward and then sideways into the zone.  Every pitch thrown has the same intended destination: the catcher’s mitt, and almost every catcher’s mitt starts set up around the hitter’s kneecaps.  With that iron-clad knowledge in hand, it makes sense for the hitter to spend all his energy getting the barrel in the way of the mitt as early as possible and up to speed as fast as possible deep in the swing.  Using the same forces, figure skaters use to spin, the hitter keeps his hands tight to the body with tight fingers but loose and easy wrists. Lowering the bat angle away from vertical allows the bat head to sweep into the zone from as close to the catcher’s mitt as possible.  This depth can give uneducated eyes the illusion of having a ‘long’ swing.  While many people do this movement incorrectly, our hitters are able to create this move and have a huge bat path in the hitting zone, greatly increasing the chances of not only hitting the ball but also hitting the ball with power. The bat must be instantly empowered with great speed from the turning torso and rearward driving front leg and hip  (the front leg violently driving down into the ground and pushing the flexed front knee backwards towards the catcher).  In the first 3 camera frames of a swing the hitter must use ALL his energy and then ‘hold on’ with his fingers for dear life.  If the bat head is sped up properly and the force of the swing is created correctly, the baseball bat is no longer ‘adjusted’ in dramatic ways, just slight adjustments can be made, making ‘hand adjustment’ driven swing styles impossible.  The hitter is now ‘leaning back’ and continuing to lengthen his frontal abdominals to allow a complete and stable fast turn and create upward power and rearward leaning mass distribution.  The hands are about to release the barrel directionally allowing the barrel to continue upward through the path of the ball and towards the field to which the ball was hit.  In a true ‘contact position’ the back foot of the hitter is off the ground and totally weightless.  The rear leg generates no force, it simply is pulled by the pelvis movement and the forceful hip and knee extension of the front leg.

THE FINISH

DCIM100GOPROYIN:  As the ball releases out of the hand, the hand and elbow will naturally pronate driving the throwing hand thumb down to the ground.  The arm will continue its path back into the body to promote healthy deceleration of the shoulder and elbow joints. The front knee remains flexed as the arm comes back into the body, but a small degree of stiffening is ok.  The trunk and spine will continue to rotate back into the center of the body as well, to complete the entire rotation of the throw.  The head remains centered on the target until the trunk completes the turn forcing the head and spine away from the body.  The back foot will continue to rise to it’s peak above the center line of the body.

YANG:  By now, the ball has either been hit or missed, but either way, the hitter’s finish should be the same.  Totally straight front leg, bent back leg with a rearward lean towards the catcher and a complete turn of the hips with the belly button past the pitcher’s mound.  Straight abdominals and the back of the hitter facing home plate.  The head is forward as no one can truly keep their head still at contact into the finish if they’ve turned completely. DCIM100GOPRO I prefer a low finish as it promotes the upward and unbroken circular track of the swing.  The hitter is relaxed and stable, and can drop the bat to run or regroup and go at it again on the next pitch.  The back knee has become the front knee as it’s closer to the pitcher now and the rear hip and rear shoulder have also replaced their counterparts.  The swing is low risk, high reward due to the early speed it generated and length of distance the barrel was in the hitting zone.  Not even a shred of power and speed is left in the hitter’s body and the hitter relaxes into his stable and supported finish position having spent his energy completely.

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Conclusion

The unique setup of Baseball Rebellion is the union of high level hitting and pitching theory.  Most skill specific trainers have a strength guy, or other trainers in their same field.  Justin and Chas work together to improve their own theory as viewed through the eyes of the other.  Pitchers must study hitters and visa versa.  As the saying goes:  Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.  Obviously, Chas and Justin are not ‘enemies’ but the goals of their professions and theories directly combat the intentions of the other’s.   Pitchers are dedicated to getting hitters out.  Obviously the degree of success that each pitcher has (ERA, Batting Average Against, W’s and L’s) determines how much they play and the size of their eventual scholarship or paycheck.  Hitters success is easily measured (Slugging Percentage, OPS, Batting Average) and the guys who have been proven to hit the ball the hardest the most often, are the guys colleges and professional teams covet. Baseball Rebellion is committed to improving both the hitting and pitching methodology of teaching and delivering the technical advantage that people search for on a daily basis.  You have come to the right place, the only place where elite level research is being done on both sides of the ball and shared to improve Rebels everywhere.

Thanks,

YIN (JUSTIN) “LEADER OF THE PITCHING REBELLION” & YANG (CHAS) “LEADER OF THE HITTING REBELLION

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About the Author

Justin Orenduff is the co-founder of the Pitching wing of Baseball Rebellion. In his 3 year stint as Head Pitching Instructor at I.T.S. Baseball, Justin has gained much local notoriety as an excellent pitching development specialist. In 2014, Justin created the Delivery Value System (DVS), the only mechanics based statistically significant model for risk assessment and performance prediction in pitchers. Also, in 2014, Justin created the Throwers Development Program (TDP), to rid the game of baseball from unhealthy, unsafe, and unsupported Traditional Long Toss programs. Currently, Justin does Online Lessons through Baseball Rebellion and in person lessons through I.T.S. Baseball. He has been the lead writer for the Baseball Pitching Rebellion since its inception in 2012. His first physical product is in development now for launch in early 2015. Prior to I.T.S. Baseball/Baseball Rebellion, Justin was a collegiate All-American at George Washington and VCU, pitched for Team USA, and was a first round draft pick of the LA Dodgers (33rd overall). After a 7 year MiLB Career, Justin returned to VCU and obtained his degree in Business in 2011.

10 Comments on "The Yin Yang of Softball: The Complementary and Combative Nature of Pitchers and Hitters"

  1. ed kovac April 4, 2013 at 12:20 pm · Reply

    I am trying to correct a strong 14 yr old pulling his homers foul! his back foot is about 8inches from the plate with a slight open stance. he takes a long stride i instructed him to do and has good rear hip turn. His reverse load during the stride is excellent. he is now getting jammed on the inside and I told him to bring his hands in and in front of his belly button and contacting the ball with his bat perpendicular to the pitcher. should he allow the bat head to get ahead of hands to hit this above the waist inside pitch?

    • Chas Pippitt April 4, 2013 at 3:49 pm · Reply

      Ed,

      I would say he’s got to get his barrel in front of his hands to hit an inside pitch…i’m sure he’s just ‘early’ on his starting movement.

      Try to get him to start slower or get him to start later. Either slowing his forward movement or delaying his initial movement would work wonders for him keeping more balls fair.

      Chas–

  2. dave June 20, 2013 at 10:25 pm · Reply

    So I’m a bit confused about if you go back to load or you just go forward in the falling movement as your first movement as the pitcher is about to throw is pitch

    • Chas Pippitt June 21, 2013 at 7:31 pm · Reply

      Dave,

      You can learn it as a fall…but in actuality it’s a little slower than that. It’s controlled.

      Chas–

  3. Zack June 21, 2013 at 11:18 am · Reply

    What is your first movement when the pitcher is about to release the ball is it a load or a movement toward the pitcher?

    • Chas Pippitt June 21, 2013 at 7:32 pm · Reply

      Zack,

      Man that’s a tough question to answer, as I don’t know enough information to tell you…

      Pitch windup tempo, pitch speed, size of field, bat speed of hitter all play a part.

      I can tell you this…if you’re FIRST move is at release…you’re going to be rushing.

      Chas–

  4. dan December 10, 2013 at 2:16 pm · Reply

    How do you achieve the downward shoulder angle and could the rebels rack help to accomplish move.

    • Chas Pippitt December 10, 2013 at 6:58 pm · Reply

      Dan,

      I don’t understand your question. Do you mean how do you tilt your shoulders downward in the stride?

      Chas–

      • Dan December 10, 2013 at 7:10 pm · Reply

        Yes, sorry for not fully explaining myself.

        • Chas Pippitt December 10, 2013 at 7:15 pm · Reply

          Dan,

          No problem.

          Simply angle your shoulders slightly downward as you land. Its only a few degrees. Flat is also good.

          Just don’t pre-set an upward angle of the shoulders and foot strike like a pitcher.

          Chas–

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