Why swing analysis?The batting swing is the single most mis-taught concept in all of youth sports. Some coaches say "swing level" while others say "swing down" and still others say "swing slightly up". Some say "squish the bug"; others say "don't squish the bug". Some say "bring the knob to the ball"; others say "no, it's a circular hand path". How do you know which is right? And nearly as important, even if you are teaching the right thing, how do you know that your player is executing what you are teaching? The irony is that hitting is the most important part of baseball—you can't win if you can't score—and yet, hitting is often incorrectly taught. This is why swing analysis is so important.
Why is hitting instruction often so incorrect?In the past, youth coaches taught their hitters how to hit by using what was available at the time—which was still photographs by SLR film cameras. It was difficult to capture the swing with those cameras so it was common to see photos of the beginning or end of the swing. Don't believe me? Just google the images of a well-known hitter from the 70s or 80s (such as "reggie jackson swing, "mike schmidt swing", etc.)
How your smartphone makes things easierLucky you. Today, you can skip all that rigmarole and just whip out your trusty smartphone. Today's (and even yesterday's) smartphones have excellent video capabilities and you can go through the video in slow motion right on your phone as well, without the need to transfer video to your desktop computer and other clunky steps. This allows you to save time as well as keep a library of all your players' swings—right in your pocket. Bonus: I have several free recommendations later in this post. Did you know you can analyze your players' swings right on your phone? Click To Tweet
How to use your smartphone to video the swingSome general tips:
- Take video of player swings as early in the season as possible. You probably can't do this in your very first practice of the season unless you're in a warm climate because kids swinging with puffy coats isn't going to be very representative of their real swing. But once your players are able to shed the jackets and practice in long-sleeves, start taking video.
- Take the video yourself. Do not delegate this task to an assistant coach. You want the video on your smartphone so you can recall it whenever needed.
- Take video of each player's swing. Yes, even your team's better hitters. Don't assume anything about anyone's swing. One year, my team's best player had severe bat drag. I never would have known if I didn't take video of his swing.
- Take the video at your team practices, not your games. In theory, game swings are best because practice swings may not be the same as the kids' game swings. But practically speaking, if you're the head coach, you will almost certainly be too busy coaching the team during the game to worry about taking video of swings. (If you're a non-coaching parent, you could do it at games.)
Best practices for taking the video
- Take the shot from the side.
When the batter in his batting stance, you're facing his chest. This is the best angle to capture the swing because you can see all the significant stages of the swing.
- Use a tee. Have the player take a swing against a ball on a tee. How well the batter hits the ball is irrelevant; you're just taking video of the swing and the ball on the tee is just to give the batter something to focus on during the swing. You could try to video swings off coach pitch but you may end up with video of lunging swings or other non-ideal swings. You want to analyze each player's strongest, best swing.
OK, I've got the players' swings...now what?To help give you more of an EDGE, I've got an exclusive resource for you. I've created a six-page Quick Edge Guide to show you how to do quick video analysis of your players' batting swings. It has recommendations for free video analysis software and mobile apps, a ninja trick for locating video of high-level swings, and gives you a quick-and-dirty tutorial of how to do video analysis. Once you learn this technique, you'll be able to put it to use in your very next practice. And did I mention this resource is free? Note: downloading the Video Analysis Quick Edge Guide will also sign you up for my newsletter (unless you are already subscribed). This free email newsletter contains exclusive content not found anywhere else on the blog or podcasts, plus you'll get all the latest blog updates. You can unsubscribe later at any time. GET YOUR VIDEO ANALYSIS GUIDE NOW
Want MORE Edgy Info?
Never miss an article! Enter your info to get more practical, actionable youth baseball coaching info like this.
Are you a new coach? I have a free 15-day email course just for you, where I walk you through coaching a team for an entire season over the course of 3 weeks.