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View Full Version : "Slight Uppercuts" vs "Level Swings" and "Chopping Wood"



ervinsm84
08-16-2011, 05:42 PM
Ive read and listened to critiques of different players on the Reds as not having a level swing and they shouldn't have any kind of uppercut in their swing. The most common Red referenced negatively in this light is Jay Bruce, with Votto being the model for "perfection" as far as a "level swing" goes. But when you look at the tape in slow mo, thats not what is happening at all.

Votto
Joey Votto Slow Motion Swing - YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05UpZ448hSM&feature=related)

Bruce
Jay Bruce Slow Motion Swing - YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUfKyB3a2jc&feature=related)

Stop and think of the best hitters of the past 60 years. They all had different stances ranging from closed to open, wide to short, hand positions, held the bat differently, stride lengths that varied dramatically, yet the one thing that seems to be common amongst every single great hitter is they have a slight upper cut swing and are not swinging down or "level" at the baseball.

Idk how many times I was told to "chop wood" as a kid and teenager that you're sposed to have a level swing. I heard it throughout my entire life whether it was with my summer travel team, from my high school coaches, and even my dad. I still hear similar phrases repeated to this day at my nephews baseball games. I wish I had learned differently at a younger age, bc I finally got around to reading the Science of Hitting by Ted Williams.

God, why did I never read this book when I was a kid, bc the information in it regarding the mechanics of hitting is priceless. I know its been around forever, hes regarded as the greatest hitter ever, and the book is well renowned, but it amazed me just how much information is taught that is flat out wrong.

Also, Obv an extreme long looping uppercut would not be the best swing, so please dont derail this into a "player x has an uppercut swing and he sucks" when in all likelihood that player is not using a "slight uppercut" and just has massive holes in his swings. Really, just look at youtube clips of jose bautista, barry bonds, A-Rod, young Griffey Jr, and even Pujols and they all have slight upper cuts.
Ex A. Griffey Jr
http://img846.imageshack.us/img846/6790/griffeyjr.jpg

Ex B. Albert
Albert Pujols Hitting 07_18_2007 01_42_26PM.avi - YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S73gtjsVCZI)

Ive been helping my nephew a lot lately, and I am pretty convinced from looking at these clips and reading ted william's book that the chopping wood approach is really not the most effective way to hit a baseball. Rather an uppercut swing is preferred excluding when stuck in a 2 strike count as Williams noted. My nephew has already shown massive improvements since I started tampering with this, and if anyone out there has a slight uppercut and someone tries to change it, just point them to Ted Williams' book.

Some illustrations and excerpts from his book

http://img21.imageshack.us/img21/5205/teddyballgame.jpg

http://img51.imageshack.us/img51/2681/teddyballgame2.jpg

http://img580.imageshack.us/img580/8792/teddyballgamee3.jpg

http://img594.imageshack.us/img594/421/teddyballgame4.jpg

izzy's dad
08-16-2011, 06:19 PM
I had problems with my swing. I think it was because I was trying too hard to create that level swing plane. I worked a lot this winter and spring on "fixing" my swing. I found that the position of my hands, both before my swing, and the follow through was much more important than trying to force a level swing. In order to get a level plane with the bat I would compensate by dropping my elbow into my hip. Thinking about my swing wrecked my swing if that makes any sense. Also, I was holding my hands too high pre-swing. By moving my hands down about 6 inches my hands were already in a hitting position. This eliminated a lot of movement. Allowing me to concentrate on the ball for a split second longer. I am a shorter guy so I need to have a little uppercut in my swing to elevate the ball. I would say that head position, hand position, and foot position are the most important things in your swing. There is no one way to swing a baseball bat effectively, but there is a wrong way. Forcing yourself into something uncomfortable, and unnatural will only make things worse. Bruce has an obvious hitch in his swing. Seems to be working now. But it makes me wonder what Brook Jacoby is doing.

Skreep
08-16-2011, 08:36 PM
I dont think the style of swing is as big of a culprit as how quick you can get the bat around. Having a slow swing means you will bite more on off speed pitches. a shorter bat will weigh less and having a streamlined swing lets you wait just that extra bit to see the direction of the ball, and will also allow more power.

bigredmechanism
08-16-2011, 11:47 PM
Although I basically was terrible at baseball as a kid, I feel like now i could say that a slight uppercut is fine as long as you have the timing down. Most of the great hitters seem to have that upward tick.

lidspinner
08-17-2011, 01:45 AM
even though there are several components to a swing...I was always taught and always teach my kids that there are 2 parts of the swing you want to try to create everytime you grab that bat...

part 1 is the chopping wood effect....we dont call it that but its the same theory....you want to stand in a comfortable spot and try to be relaxed....dont try to hard to be like someone else in their stance....if your comfortable standing upright then by all means do it....just make sure your are comfortable throughout the whole swing...not just the stance....that is part 1.....you stand there as if you were about to do a job and your gonna be doing it for awhile.....some people say act as if your chopping wood, some say level swinging plane...its all in the same...

Part 2 is the act of actual swinging....the main this is to start your swing as if your chopping wood....i.e., you want to be comfortable and you want to be balanced and you want to get as much as your body into that axe or that bat as you can.....then you keep that bat level up until you start to meet the ball, as you are meeting the ball you want to thrust your wrists into the "plane" and create a "torque" of your hips and shoulders....

I know it sounds like alot but I truly think people hear chopping wood or level swing and just think its all supposed to be like that....teach the kids to be relaxed and have 2 swings, one part is the stance, and the other is the actual swing....teach them to break the actual swing down into pre contact and actual contact.....

I help our high school baseball team with hitting and they all seem to do better when they get that thought out of their head that the swing must be level....we dont want a pure uppercut, but we for sure want to kids to be relaxed in their stance and we want them to be a bull dog in the pre contact and actual contact parts of their swing....as they grow and as they take BP they will figure the rest out on their own....teach them to make contact and they will learn the rest...

code
08-17-2011, 09:23 AM
I really think Janish should watch these videos.

Red Rover
08-17-2011, 09:52 AM
The natural plane of the baseball to the plate is slightly downward. The best contact to the ball would be a slight uppercut. A level swing works in little league, where bases are short and speed matters, because with a level swing, you're hitting slightly on top of the ball and getting a lot of ground balls.

As these little leaguers get older the bases get further apart and harder to beat out the ground balls.

Our youth baseball league teaches rotational hitting, so that the kids will be ready for the next level. In rotation hitting(Ted Williams), the bat stays on the same plane as the ball is traveling and leaves the bat on the same plane, which is usually a line drive or deep fly ball over the infield.

The swing; Most important is a front leg that stays locked throught the swing and driver the hands to the ball. Use the same rotational swing, rotate around with the hips, on all pitches(inside, outside or donw the middle). The timing of the swing and contact point is determined by the pitch location. Inside pitch, start swing ealier and make contact infront of the plate to pull the ball. Outside pitch, wait on the ball and make contact later to drive the ball to the opposite field.

plowshareredfan
08-17-2011, 01:24 PM
You are either a hitter or you are not. If hitting could be taught everyone would hit .300

ervinsm84
08-17-2011, 02:40 PM
You are either a hitter or you are not. If hitting could be taught everyone would hit .300


I could not disagree more with the bolded part above. As for the second part...

"If being a doctor could be taught (which it is) everyone would be a doctor"

"If being a lawyer could be taught (which it is) everyone would be a lawyer"

"If being an engineer could be taught (which it is) everyone would be an engineer"

Do you see the problem with this logic?


While clearly there is a natural amount of hitting talent and athletic ability a person may possess, its on each person to maximize whatever bit of talent that have to be able to hit (assuming thats something they wanted to do).

Besides, if someones naturally a hitter, how do we even know? We're just born with it? Or is it more likely that the hitter we see at an older age started hitting when little, liked it a lot, played a lot, worked at it a ton and maximized his ability?

If the bolded part above was true, then why does anyone even bother to practice? You can either hit or you cant. There would be no need to work at it, since you're set as a being a hitter or not being a hitter.

I think a mentality like that, is just something that people who currently suck at hitting and/or don't want to work to get better like to use as an excuse for not being able to hit. Am i saying everyone can make the big leagues by just "working hard?" Not at all. Not even remotely close. But we do have an innate ability that we can maximize.



“A great hitter isn’t born, he’s made. He’s made out of practice, fault correction and confidence.

ervinsm84
08-17-2011, 02:45 PM
The natural plane of the baseball to the plate is slightly downward. The best contact to the ball would be a slight uppercut. A level swing works in little league, where bases are short and speed matters, because with a level swing, you're hitting slightly on top of the ball and getting a lot of ground balls.

As these little leaguers get older the bases get further apart and harder to beat out the ground balls.

Our youth baseball league teaches rotational hitting, so that the kids will be ready for the next level. In rotation hitting(Ted Williams), the bat stays on the same plane as the ball is traveling and leaves the bat on the same plane, which is usually a line drive or deep fly ball over the infield.

The swing; Most important is a front leg that stays locked throught the swing and driver the hands to the ball. Use the same rotational swing, rotate around with the hips, on all pitches(inside, outside or donw the middle). The timing of the swing and contact point is determined by the pitch location. Inside pitch, start swing ealier and make contact infront of the plate to pull the ball. Outside pitch, wait on the ball and make contact later to drive the ball to the opposite field.

Ive watched a ton of videos on rotational hitting (which as you noted is basically what ted williams teaches) and found some pretty cool drills. Really wish Id have had someone like you teaching me when I was younger.

plowshareredfan
08-17-2011, 05:39 PM
I don't see the problem with this logic. Your logic is backwards. These guys choose to be baseball players, not lawyers or doctors. If they chose to be a lawyer or doctor they go to school to learn that profession just as baseball players spend years in the minors learning to play ball. So why do they not hit better? Why are there lawyers and then great lawyers, surgeons and great surgeons, hitters and great hitters. You are born with a certain capacity to do certain things in life. You can practice and play your entire life and not become great because you dont have the capacity to do it.

ervinsm84
08-17-2011, 05:53 PM
If X is able to be taught , then all can do Y.
Not all can do Y.
Therefore X is not able to be taught

The error is in line 1. While technically the 2 premises reach a valid logical conclusion its not sound bc, it has a false premise.
It is assuming that if X is able to be taught = everyone must be able to do Y. I gave multiple examples that discredit that line of reasoning. Thousands of things are able to be taught that not everyone can do.

Jist is, bc some people cannot hit, does not = hitting cannot be taught.


I also more than agreed that everyone has a maximum capacity of hitting talent, if you read my post.

plowshareredfan
08-17-2011, 06:14 PM
If X is Ted Williams and Y is Paul Janish and they both spent their younger years learning (being taught) to hit why doesn"t Janish (Y) hit .300 every year as did Williams (X)

plowshareredfan
08-17-2011, 06:18 PM
(X)anyone can be taught, even a dog (roll over, sit, etc). Being teachable doesn't mean you can be taught to do everything. My dog will never to be able to hit MLB pitching.

plowshareredfan
08-17-2011, 06:28 PM
I guess being taught to hit and being a hitter are two different concepts. Sure you can be taught proper tecniques in hitting such as stance, swing and weight distribution. THEN YOU CAN PROBABLY HIT A BASEBALL. A hitter, to me is someone who takes the act of making contact with a baseball and becomes someone who collects actual hits not just making contact.

ervinsm84
08-17-2011, 06:39 PM
If X is Ted Williams and Y is Paul Janish and they both spent their younger years learning (being taught) to hit why doesn"t Janish (Y) hit .300 every year as did Williams (X)

A. we dont know how much time each actually spent
B. we dont know janish learned proper technique
C. Ive already acknowledged now 2 separate times, this is sentence is the 3rd, that there is a maximum capacity of talent for hitting, that somehow you cant comprehend that Ive said.


(X)anyone can be taught, even a dog (roll over, sit, etc). Being teachable doesn't mean you can be taught to do everything. My dog will never to be able to hit MLB pitching.

if this is really where you want to take this discussion, theres no point even talking about it.

plowshareredfan
08-17-2011, 10:17 PM
Yeah,if you saw my dog you would know right away he wouldnt be good at anything. We dont know how much time was spent practicing. But is there a proper technique. Williams says Cobb was wrong yet both were tremendous hitters. Bretts approach was completely differnt yet he was a tremendous hitter. Williams couldnt teach his approach to his Senators/Rangers to become better hitters. I still say this is because these great hitters were born with the capacity to hit just like a great surgeon, lawyer, musician,etc.
I dont beleive the average player could spend the same amount of time and learn the same technique as Williams would ever be the hitter Williams was. There are too many other variables involved that just are not teachable.

wabashfalcon
08-17-2011, 10:23 PM
I was always a line drive hitter... my dad made me go to the cage every freaking night to work on a level swing. I could spray liners everywhere and I seldom connected on a home run. I was a average guy... whenever I broke my swing plane is when I made outs.

Like I said... I'm biased. Level swings are all I know.

ervinsm84
08-18-2011, 09:00 AM
Yeah,if you saw my dog you would know right away he wouldnt be good at anything. We dont know how much time was spent practicing. But is there a proper technique. Williams says Cobb was wrong yet both were tremendous hitters. Bretts approach was completely differnt yet he was a tremendous hitter. Williams couldnt teach his approach to his Senators/Rangers to become better hitters. I still say this is because these great hitters were born with the capacity to hit just like a great surgeon, lawyer, musician,etc.
I dont beleive the average player could spend the same amount of time and learn the same technique as Williams would ever be the hitter Williams was. There are too many other variables involved that just are not teachable.
bolded is the definition of a straw man argument. I have now said 4 separate times that hitters have a max talent level. that does not prevent hitting from being taught.

izzy's dad
08-18-2011, 10:50 AM
Hitter A is an average hitter with good potential. Hitter B is a good hitter with great potential. Both hitter A and B make adjustments to their hitting mechanics that maximize their hitting potential. Hitter A is now a good hitter, and Hitter B is a great hitter.

Each "hitter" has a certain maximum "level" that they can reach. Joey Votto is one of the best pure hitters in baseball. He was born with that innate ability, however, it was through thousands of swings, changes to his hitting mechanics, and years of hard work that he became the hitter he is today.

The idea that you cannot improve your swing through adjustments to your hand position, foot position, etc. is crazy.

plowshareredfan
08-18-2011, 06:26 PM
Exactly. Joey Votto is one of the best pure hitters in MLB. He was BORN with that inate abitlity. And yes he took thousands of swings and had his technique tinkered with to become the hitter he is. Paul Janish has also taken thousands of swings and hads his technique tinkered with as well by the same instructors in Reds organization yet he wasnt BORN with the inate ability to be a hitter, thus the .210 career avg.