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Linear Hitting Advice in New Ryan Howard Commercials

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  • Linear Hitting Advice in New Ryan Howard Commercials

    Has anyone seen the commercials or heard the radio ads with Ryan Howard for Adidas Baseball and Dick's Sporting Goods? They are the ads where Howard shows up at HS baseball practices, gives out Adidas equipment, and then asks to practice with the team.

    I find it extremely interesting that one of the "nuggets of advice" offered by one of the HS players(?) in these ads is to "swing down on the ball to make the ball go up"... especially when Ryan Howard doesn't even use this philosophy in his own swing.

    Any Thoughts?????


  • #2
    twitch --

    The reason these descriptions which contradict surface visual reality persist is that feel is often more important than accurate descriptions of surface appearance. This is WAY better understood in golf.

    If you are familiar with golf, for example, it is said you need to swing down to get the ball up in the air (more scientific super slomo descriptios would focus on other things like club face orientation.shaft bend/kick/ball compression,etc). To swing well requires well timed coil and uncoil of the body (store and release/stretch and fire) which also involves the wrist hinge staying closed longer, opening up later. In golf this is called "late hitting".

    Paradoxically in hitting, this late hinge opening sequence is necessary to get "early" batspeed which is a matter of keeping the hands back and being able to accelerate quickly after reading the pitch longer. Things are looked at differently because you have to react to a moving ball. Once you make the GO decidion in hitting, it helps to think of what you need as EARLY batspeed in that you start the bat spatially well back in the swing pane behind you AND the bat gets to max speed quickly.

    Also seemingly paradoxicaly in hitting you need to actively turn the forearms and wrists early in the swing as part of being ably to keep the hinge angle from widening too prematurely (hit with unbroken wrists as Williams said, meaning mainly the top hand wrist - this is what the handle torque thing is about)

    So "early batspeed" in hitting is mechanically similar to "late hitting" in golf.

    In golf there is also the aiming point concept from Homer Kelly/the golf machine.

    Approaching contact, the hinge angle opens fast by momentum transfer which is a difficult thing to feel/cognize/"grok". In fact if you think about it consciously, you will tend to mess it up because it is non inutitive and you are not likely to come up with compatible swing cues/keys for your efforts. The aiming point concept means you think of your target/goal as getting the hands well ahead of the ball and TRUST that the clubhead will still close and the clubface square on time. You have to conceptually anticipate some overshoot of the hands, BUT you hardly see any on video.

    "swinging down" accomplishes the same thing, keeping the hands ahead so you do not push the swing and interfere with the whip sequence, degrading it.

    Trying to aim at the inside seam of the baseball can do the same thing. Hitting oppo hard is also a good way to keep from rushing the storage and release of momentum.the releae gets slowed way down by rushing. Early preparation pays off with better aceleration.better early batspeed.

    So is not surprising that like a golfer, Howard finds that when gets the swing down feel, he hit hits/lifts the ball up hard, neither a weak pop up nor a dribbling grounder.

    At that point a feel cue is better for him than something that does not violate video reality.

    Many golf pros know the difference between the two in golf. Not many appreciate this in hitting.

    DMAC noted that tip and rip helped lift the low ball. This is a similar thing.


    • #3
      tom.guerry ...

      I actually understand what you are saying... I was a scratch golfer until my late 20's when "real life" and kids intervened. However, I think you are giving Ryan Howard and the people behind these commercials too much credit ... I don't think they understand the physics or the subtle nuances of the baseball swing.

      My only point about these commercials was how pervasive some of the really old linear hitting myths have become. The "hit down on the ball to make it rise" comment reminded me of the "V-swing" theory and all the coaches who teach their hitters to visualize a nail at a 45 degree angle and hit down.



      • #4
        Ryan Howard knows his swing better then 99%, of any of the Major league players. The guy is never happy and is always trying to improve it using video ect...

        The fact is that they paid him to say what he said. He is probably smart enough to just roll with it.



        • #5

          congrats on being a scratch golfer.

          You might be interested in reading BOBBY JONES ON GOLF.

          This is perhaps the best description of the 2 Plane golf swing ever with the great bonus of there also being lots of video of Jones swing that is high resolution.

          For example, see:

          The classic 2P golf swing is very similar to the MLB swing. as Jones says, you need to learn to play by feel.

          The fact that feel cues semantically conflict with observed/external/"scientific" reality is not of much consequence IF the feel image works, and it often works in spite of a big conflict.

          Here is an online book about the shutface 2 plane swing after Leo Diegel (Jones used an open face style):

          The distinction between the 1Plane "modern" (hogan) swing and classic 2 plane (John Jacobs/Jones/Niklaus/etc) is described by 2007 PGA Teacher of the year Jim Hardy:

          My Search for the plane truth by Jim Hardy -

          The choice is yours -

          Getting set -

          Getting going -

          Getting down -

          Practice drills -

          Or see Hardy books:



          Once you separate out the 2 plane pattern, there is a good basis for comparing and contrsting this to the MLB swing.

          In the 2 plane golf swing, you have to create the plane by synching the up and down swing of the arms with the back and forth turn of the body. This tends to involve a steep plane that needs widening features to be consistent, given the requirement for having to time clubface closure well.

          The MLB swing has to deal with a moving target, BUT there is no clubface closing requirment, so the swing is like a 2plane swing but you can try to line the swing up entirely/vertically with the target.

          Furthermore you need to shorten the swing so instead of it being an up and downswing of the arms, the lead arm can be bent in hitting and the hands torque the handle of the bat, then are supported by tilting of the shoulders so you get a shorter uop and down lever controlled by the hands that blends with the turning back and forth of the body by the hips.

          2plane golf is arms and hips.

          MLB is hands and hips.

          This involves swinging the shoulders down as the hips turn the body which is a VERY different feel from 1 plane golf pattern where the arms swing around the body as the body turns. So swing down IS a very important cue to encourage the right pattern. While the bathead levels off and starts up to contact, or better is always a slight upswing matching the pitch as described by Williams, the swing still has the swing down or "bypassing shoulders" feel because the shoulders are responding to the hands and hips, not actively turning the bat themselves.

          Yes, there is a segmented kinetic link/chain including the shoulders, but feel wise they are used as in the 2 plane golf swing where they can not be actively turned starting down from the top without throwing the plane out to in.

          Last edited by tom.guerry; 03-07-2008, 10:21 PM.


          • #6
            Originally posted by callyjr View Post

            The fact is that they paid him to say what he said. He is probably smart enough to just roll with it.

            I just got off the phone with one of his former hitting coaches in the Philly Org. His thought process everytime he swings the bat is "down and through".


            • #7
              Originally posted by hiddengem View Post
              I just got off the phone with one of his former hitting coaches in the Philly Org. His thought process everytime he swings the bat is "down and through".

              Interesting!! Is this you think also?



              • #8
                who care if it linear, rotational, hybrid, if you can hit the ball over .300


                Yogi Berra was asked by a reporter "How do you catch a knuckle ball?" He came right back and said "When it stops rolling"


                • #9
                  a post from "chicago" at Hardy's forum 1 plane discussion:

                  "I think I understand what you are saying here. Conceptually, the hips do not move laterally at all, which should keep the spine angle fairly constant through impact. They turn and hence the hip actually moves back away from the target line. Can you describe the balance board concept a little further?

                  "Also, since the hips are tilted toward the ball slightly, it would seem that on the downswing the left hip would not only rotate back away from the target line (and away from the target itself as well), but also upward slightly as you move into the ball. Conceptually to me the hip motion traces a circle tilted slightly downward that rotates counterclockwise (when viewed from above the golfer). Watching Hogan's swing in slow motion would seem to bear this out.

                  "Keep in mind this is all what it FEELS like. Since the legs are connected to the hips which are connected to the torso (a.k.a. core), the hips will never trace a true circle. Trying to describe what the golf swing FEELS like versus what actually HAPPENS on video can be two different animals. Describing a feeling to a student in order to produce a specific mechanical result is something that separates the great teachers from the ones who aren't, IMHO. It is why the video camera has unraveled many mysteries of the swing yet made it so more complex. What Hogan did and what Hogan felt were two different things. "

                  "I've faced the exact same issues as you. I'm a scratch player and when the tournaments come and the fairways narrow, timing issues create pressure on a swing that relies on it. I've been working with a couple of Jim's long time associates for a couple years and I cannot stress enough how important it is to spend some time with one.

                  "While the book and DVD are fantastic supplements, nothing beats someone standing there with you telling you when you have something right or wrong with the swing you just made. That confirmation allows you to lock onto the "feeling" of the correct motion. This is the missing link that just can't be provided without real-time feedback. Many times the feeling of the correct action is so darn counterintuitive it blows your mind."
                  Last edited by tom.guerry; 03-08-2008, 11:25 AM.


                  • #10
                    a prime example of the importance of sorting golf info (or any skill) by pattern is the common advice to "KEEP THE ARMS IN FRONT OF YOUR TORSO".

                    As Hardy explains, this is great advice for a 2 planer but death to the one planer:

                    The real issue here is acceptance. Good players and most teachers have been brain washed to believe that ALL SWINGS must keep the arms IN FRONT OF THE BODY. To consider anything else is heresy. But as I point out in great detail in the book, doing so destroys one-plane swings. But that is a very bitter pill for many in golf today to swallow because they have been touting arms in front for a long time. If there was any one issue that got me back into teaching golf it was this exact piece of such bad instruction. Getting the club amd arms behind you is just what a one-planer must try to do. Watch any old film of Hogan, Snead, Knudsen, Palmer, etc and you will see the arms go so abruptly inside and behind them that you will think they are taking them between their legs. The key is what you do from there. If you turn the hips and not the shoulders also on the downswing, or tilt the shoulders on the downswing or force the right elbow back out in front of your right side in the downwing, then a CLUB STUCK BEHIND YOU WILL RESULT. The answer to a club stuck behind you is not to keep it in front of you!!! The answer is to learn how to turn your upper body correctly around a bent over spine, while keeping your right elbow up and behind you and your hands close on the inner circle. For a one-planer to keep his arms in front requires him to then slow down his body and time the arm swing with the body turn....JUST LIKE A TWO-PLANER...which is exactly what has been happening to all one-plane instruction in the last few years.


                    • #11
                      It's funny -- about two years ago -- when Howard was first making a name for himself as a rookie, HiddenGem and I had several online conversations about him, as I felt Howard was violating several established rules of hitting. These discussions really developed and advanced my knowledge of hitting -- which is my euphemism for saying HiddenGem was right and I was a self-satisfied idiot. (But, as always, HG was too kind to point that out.)

                      But, I think Howard's important in showing the limitation of MarkH's otherwise excellent advice -- emulate the best hitters in the world. Howard can break some of the rules because he is tremendously strong and has a very powerful bottom half of his body. He can get away with what he does (with what many of us would call major disconnection) -- however, most hitters under the age of 16 couldn't even get the ball out of the infield hitting the way he does.

                      The advice of "swing down on the ball" may or may not be injurious to kids' swings, because it is so vague. The term "swing" encompasses a number of body parts and movements. Ideally, many body parts go down at the beginning of the swing, but start to rise near the end of a good swing. Which part is mean by his advice, and for how long? For kids who tend to pull off the ball, I'll often suggest (particularly in tee or soft toss work) "Drive your rear shoulder down toward the pitcher's feet." If the kid stays connected, the hands and bathead will ultimately turn upward before contact. So, "down" may not be a horrible cue, depending on how the kid interprets it.

                      So, why bother to use a cue that may or may not be used properly by the hitter? Or any cue. Example -- our team has only one kid (age 14) who consistently chopped down on the ball when practices started. I talked about various techniques and cues, but the most effective thing I did was to set up a tee right on the front edge of home plate. Sure enough, his first few swings were chop jobs that beat the ball into the ground. He immediately saw that he needed to keep his hands back and to tilt as he rotated. Bingo -- ten line drives in a row right into the center of the net. Last game -- a key single in our comeback rally. And he largely taught himself, which of course means he was more invested in his modifications to his swing. All for the price of a fifteen buck batting tee....
                      sigpicIt's not whether you fall -- everyone does -- but how you come out of the fall that counts.


                      • #12
                        Howard is not breaking the rules of the MLB pattern.

                        he is breaking the rules of the PCR pattern.

                        Lucky for him.


                        • #13
                          Lets watch AP on deck...


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