Most of today's "teaching" involves "emulation": seeing a hitter we "like" and trying to copy his movements. Historically, this has been the norm, and while it has been an effective teaching tool for some, its major drawback is time—often years—constantly experimenting and refining until it either proves workable or not. But if it doesn't work, it's back to the drawing board again. Compounding the problem is the fact that very few players are able to take that "mental snapshot" and utilize it to their advantage. For the many that may be challenged in this area, they need to be physically put into these hitting positions by a competent hitting instructor and continually practiced until the correct muscle memory takes over.My progressive hitting program can be effectively taught to players 10 years and up. We have had good success with even younger players; however, unless a younger player is fairly advanced, he can struggle at this age. Often, younger players do not have the control of the motor coordination needed to effectuate these athletic movements, nor, in most instances, do they have the "attention span" to be instructed. However, that being said, let me emphasize that every player is different. In most cases, the younger your son/daughter can get started, the better. My time-tested, proven learning program enables the hitter to learn these very same mechanics in DAYS—not years—accelerating the player's development, and helping realize his potential much more quickly than ever before! In short, "The system is the solution."
The Epstein Teaching Systemtm
As this learning process relates to baseball players, they are generally unaware of their lack of competence as they progress to a higher level. Normally, this is because they have always had success up to this point, and usually believe they are merely in the midst of a "slump." Pitchers progress when they display the ability to throw strikes to all four corners of the strike zone. Mechanical adjustments are part of the pitcher’s routine development. Those that make the correct adjustments keep moving up. Those that don’t become history. Hitters also must learn to make good adjustments. If pitchers are continually getting the hitter out on pitches on the inside-half of the plate, he's got to make some adjustments. If he correctly anticipates pitches “in” up to two strikes, but if their mechanics won’t let him “clear their hips,” it won’t make much difference. In other words, part of the learning process is mechanical, as well as mental. But the baseball "system" (especially professional baseball) has its own way of dealing with hitting adjustments. Historically, it has gone like this: “Let the player figure it out for themselves. If they can’t, and their 'back is to the wall,' they’ll find someone to help them (a friend, their coach or a hitting instructor). However—at all costs— the coach or hitting instructor, should NEVER approach a struggling player with advice. Let them come to you.” The fallacy with this notion is, by the time the player does seek help, way too much time has passed, and their confidence level is shot. This is because the player is usually not "conscious" of their lack of competence. They say to themselves, “It’ll pass. It's just a "slump." Mike Epstein
A qualified hitting instructor will attempt to make the player AWARE by asking the player questions when they begin to struggle. “Having trouble getting your bat head through on inside pitches? Are you anticipating pitches correctly up to two strikes? Do you think your hips are rotating as well as they can? Are you starting on time? Can you feel yourself lunging?” These just scratch the surface, but serve as a wake-up call to the hitter, because most times they feel their mechanics have gotten them to this point, so it must be something else. Unfortunately, many times it usually isn’t. As pitchers get better, hitters must make their adjustments, too. Mechanics are continually refined and adjusted—mostly through emulation and trial-and-error. This can be a very awkward, as well as a slow process.
Once you get through to the hitter—that, indeed, there may be something he is—or is not—doing that is causing the problem, he will probably listen. Show him some things you feel can help him. For example, show him correct lower body movements where he can rotate their hips correctly, which will then “pull” his hands through with a quickness and velocity he has never experienced before. Show him videos of baseball’s elite hitters doing the very same movements. If that doesn’t convince him, he probably doesn’t want to get any better. As an instructor, the player has to meet you halfway. Otherwise, it won’t work, and will frustrate you. He has to want to be helped!
If you succeed getting through to the player, and you make him aware of his incompetence, he will enter the AWKWARD stage. This is arrived at when the player is asked to perform certain physical movements that he has never done before. This is his “shaky” period, the difficult time when everything feels different and he's got to “think through” every movement he makes. As the player gets better, and his new muscle memory "burns in" through continual repetition, he becomes less awkward—and more fluent in his movements. He becomes much more conscious of his new-found ability to perform these movements, which become consistently better as each day progresses. There is not a set timetable when the player is able to take it back on the field.
Finally, the player is ready! When he gets into the batter’s box, he is now totally unconscious of his competence. He doesn't think about what he is doing. He is now able to react and make the on-the-fly, instinctive adjustments, that will keep him moving up the ladder. He has redefined his mechanics positively with hard work and an open mind.
How quickly a player breaks out of the Awkward Stage to the SKILL Stage is dependent on his relationship with the hitting instructor and the ability of the hitting instructor to articulate good information that the hitter can identify with, internalize and use. If the instructor can teach, is credible, has good information, is positive, and gains the respect of the hitter, it doesn’t take very long. However, if the player doesn’t respect the instructor for any of the above reasons, it probably won’t happen. The instructor must make the hitter “buy into” his philosophy and its ultimate reward: the player hitting his potential.
My experience suggests the journey from the Aware (Something New) Stage to the IT'S ME! (Natural) Stage requires "approximately" 1,500 diligent repetitions. However, please keep in mind every hitter is different! I have three, five and seven-day programs, however, I guarantee the 7-Day Program: the player will have the same "core" mechanics of 95% of baseball's Hall of Fame hitters.
My progressive hitting program can be effectively taught to players 10 years and up. We have had good success with younger players. Notwithstanding, unless a younger player is fairly advanced, he can struggle at this age. Younger players often do not have the control of their motor coordination needed to effectuate these athletic movements, nor, in most instances, do they have the "attention span" to be instructed. That being said, let me also emphasize that every player is different. In most cases, the younger your son/daughter can get started, the better.
Naperville Baseball Academy 10s361 Normantown Road Suite 2 Guardian Building Naperville, Illinois 60564 630-305-8665