Baseball Video Analysis-Using it to coach
Coaching is about making players better at every level. Whether you are coaching youth baseball or coaching pro baseball, your mission is to improve your player’s ability. Baseball video analysis helps coaches get players to reach their potential.
The use of video analysis will assist you as a coach improve a player’s skills. Mike Trout, arguably the best hitter in the sport today, uses video to make sure his swing is the best it can be. If we are teaching our players to hit like the best players then why wouldn’t we use the same tools when they are available.
What you need
It used to be hard to use video to analyze a player, but now it is as simple as downloading an app on your smartphone. There are several apps available the one I prefer is Coach’s Eye. Power Chalk is another app that is available. The key to all of them is to find one and use it until you are comfortable with their system. Both of these apps are free and offer in-app purchases.
There are also computer programs that you can buy. Most are costly, and you need need to buy additional video cameras to use the system. RightView Pro offers packages ranging from $299 to $6,000. For a youth baseball coach, this is a huge of out-of-pocket expense.
Knowing what you are looking at in a hitter’s mechanics is the essential part of using baseball video analysis to make yourself a better coach. Anybody can learn how to use an app. Knowing what you are looking for is a lot harder.
You must become versed in hitting mechanics. Immersing yourself in the world of baseball mechanics can be time-consuming. There are so many opinions about how we do things. I would strongly recommend that you research by reading and watching. When you read a book by a former or current authority on baseball, take their words and then watch what they are doing. In a lot of cases, you will find that there is a difference. What they do is not what they say.
So what is right or who should you follow?
That is hard; I have found a handful of people that I trust. We start with Ted Williams. We end with Ted Williams. Ted was the greatest hitter of all time. He knew things about hitting and explained them in detail back in the 1930’s that people are just catching up to now.
My next resource is a combination of individuals. The gentlemen behind Epstein Hitting, dad, Mike played for Ted Williams. He got to work with Ted and listen to his teachings first hand. He has passed that knowledge down to his son Jake and others through his hitting instructor certification classes and his books. You can find more information online at Epstein Hitting Online Academy.
I also follow Bobby Tewksbary. Tewksbary Hitting is one of my favorite places to get hitting information because I know some of the guys that Bobby has worked with personally. They are on top of the mechanics and mental side of hitting like few others in the game today. Once you get on his website, you will be hooked if you have even an ounce of interest in how to hit a baseball. I would recommend getting his book Elite Swing Mechanics.
Finally, I think that the information put out by Sean T Plouffe at Hitterish.com. Sean talks about a lot of the mechanics of a great swing. He has a lot of videos that reinforce what he is teaching.
Hitting always comes back to Ted Williams
The thing that you will find when you visit all of these sites and read or watch the material that they present is that they are all doing what Ted Williams said was happening over 70 years ago. I am not taking anything away from these guys. I think they are great but if Ted Williams had the video analysis and the internet, I wonder if any of these guys would have a job today.
Some things you might not know you don’t know
Unless you have been studying the baseball swing for the last 15 years, there are things that you have probably learned that you shouldn’t have. Vidoe has brought an understanding to hitting mechanics that we just didn’t have when we were growing up. If you have not played baseball in a progressive program withing the last ten years you need to do your players a favor and catch up on hitting.
Understanding hitting mechanics will allow you to look at the swing of your players and determine if they are getting their foot down early or learning to use their stride and balance to keep inside the baseball and hit every pitch. You will be able to see if a player is long to the ball or short and quick allowing more time for pitch recognition. Are your player’s getting on plane and staying there or are they swinging down, looping or pulling off?
How to use your baseball video analysis system
The biggest problem with using video analysis is getting a good video to analyze. When taking video make sure that the angle you are using will allow you to see the particular mechanic you would like to address. If you are working on the leg drive of a player, you have to get video from the opposite batter’s box. If you are slightly in front of or behind the hitter, you will not get the angles you need to measure correctly.
When you are looking for hand path, you will want to use video that is taken from directly behind, or in front of the hitter. If you are trying to see if a player’s hands are released too early in the swing process, you may not get a good angle from the opposite batter’s box view.
As the person getting the video, you will also want to keep in mind that having a reference point in the background is very helpful. Using a backstop or another player works in live game video. When you are in a batting cage see if you can find a grid to use as a backdrop.
A good analyzer can look at a bad video and make good suggestions. However, getting the right video will make it a lot easier to definitively correct poor mechanics.
Analyze the video
Now that you have a good foundation of hitting mechanic knowledge, an app on your smartphone and a good video, you need to break it down. To thoroughly analyze the video, you must have a system. Most hitting guys will tell you to start from the ground up and I don’t disagree. The legs are the most important part of any sport including baseball.
After addressing the legs, you will move up the body ending with the hands. The sequence of analyzing will go feet, legs, hips, shoulders, head, then hands. If you follow this process, you will never miss something in a hitter’s swing.
Don’t get stuck on one swing
When using video to analyze your players you need to remember that the video does not lie. However, you can see things that are there because of something that happened outside of the frame. When breaking down a player’s mechanics you can’t use just one example. Make sure you get a few samples for each hitter. Something that is wrong in one swing may not be a habit. It could be an adjustment to a variable like pitch location or speed.
Breaking down video will help you develop young players if you use it the right way. Be sure to educate yourself on the mechanics you are analyzing. The best tool any coach has is their knowledge of the game.