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Ep. 58: The Ball Yard with Doug Latta | A Baseball Podcast

Geoff Rottmayer March 16, 2020 3


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The Ball Yard with Doug Latta

Welcome to The Baseball Awakening Podcast, where we dive into the raw, unfiltered, unsexy side of player development

Guest Bio:

Doug Latta, Owner and Professional Hitting Coach at The Ball Yard

Summary:

On this episode, Host Geoff Rottmayer sits down with Doug Latta

Show Notes: In this conversation, Doug talks about:

  • His path to where he is now as a hitting coach for professional hitters.
  • What it means to have a swing that works against your body.
  • Understanding what it means and how the body works in the swing.
  • His thoughts on the On Base U and FMS screening.
  • Things he has seen from a screen that prevent hitters from executing good swings.
  • He  thoughts and taught on balance setup, forward move and swing.
  • How to get setup in a balanced position.
  • Rule of thumb for forward move.
  •  Why he doesn’t like the back shift in the swing.
  • His thoughts and opinion on the technology.
  • Difference between hitting to the ball and through the ball.
  • What adjustability his and how to teach it.
  • Kids who get top hand heavy.
  • What the barrel should be doing throughout the swing process.
  • Developing an approach and how one should do so.
  • and much more.

Website: www.baseballawakening.com

Facebook: Baseball Awakening Podcast

Twitter: Baseball Awakening Podcast

Instagram: The Baseball Awakening Podcast

Email Address: geoff@baseballawakening.com

Geoffrey Rottmayer
On today’s show, we have between whisper himself, Doug louder. And we’re talking about the swing and we’re talking a little hitting.

Unknown Speaker
Welcome to another episode of the baseball awakening podcast where we dive into the raw, unfiltered unsexy side of player development. Get ready for some knowledge bombs with your host Jeff rottenmeier.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Welcome to the baseball wavy podcast. I’m Geoffrey Rottmayer. And today I’m sitting down with Doug Lauda, a pioneer in hitting instruction there guy to work with professional hitters, and then there Doug, who builds professional hitters, Doug worked potater across all level to include the MLB MLB, LBM, KBO and P. While you work with a lot of guys, the guy that had publicly came mouth and crediting dug to overhauling their swing would be Justin Turner with the Dodgers and hunter pen with the Rangers. But Doug, how are you sir?

Doug Latta
Good, Geoff, how are you?

Geoffrey Rottmayer
I’m doing good. Doug. Thank you. You know it’s Halloween morning and we’re going to talk from baseball and talk from hitting you know, a dog a lot of people in the baseball community know who you are, or they know of you. But I think number two kind of curious that to kind of the backstory kind of would like to start there. At the when you got kind of got started out of the hitting code and what got you interested in in teaching the swing? Okay.

Doug Latta
I played baseball through college. And when I graduated, I was lucky to be able to continue playing around locally with a couple of teams that would play colleges in the offseason would be you know, a lot of the pros would come out to get that bat So stayed very involved in the game and obviously a big part of that is getting and talking getting. So that’s always something I think you never give up once you’re kind of hooked on the game and you know all the little nuances and the desire to understand hitting it’s a it’s a tough thing to do. And you know, you try to make that picture a little clearer. So as I got older opportunity presented itself to work as a coach and I just was exposed to not only you know, the youth players that I was around as a as a coach, what they were being taught that really wasn’t helping them but on the team I was playing for we had a lot of minor leaguers and also professional hitters, big league hitters that we will talk about what their hitting coaches were doing, what they’re being asked to do, and You know, 30 years ago something that just made absolutely no sense and I would see hitters would actually basically get worse, you know good hitters get to certain points suddenly get forced to change something and you know, their numbers go down in their, their swing changes and because I was playing with them, you know, I could you know compare the difference immediately. So, you know that fascination with Why is hitting so poorly instructed, I guess resonates probably in every hitter and eventually I became a high school coach and sometimes did that I opened a hitting training facility. Had a good friend, Craig Wallner, Brock who was a scout then and was also doing some hitting instruction. I liked what he taught he came in, he became one of my use are places that play so we kind of team Upload bit to start work of hitters. And, you know, that means the day we opened, you know, we were working with major league hitters. So, you know, for 14 years, there was a lot of learning going on, you know, working through the process from the top of the game, which kind of helps really feed down into what would you want at the grassroots? How would you want a young player learning or developing in order to be in a position to hopefully have a swing that might be carrying them up into you know, high school, college, professional Major League Baseball.And here I am today? Yeah.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Awesome. But Doug, you know, I had a chance in August to spend some time with you. and a bunch of other coaches out there at the bar yard and you know, when I was there, I was all yours and bear little mouth, but but I got a chance to learn In Depth, what you teach, it made a lot of sense to me so and we’re gonna get into, you know what you believe and teach, but for the time that you started teaching the following to what you’re teaching now, what were some of the biggest thing that you discovered that led you to what you are teaching now?

Doug Latta
I think the evolution was, I guess I was lucky to have a pretty good concept of what we wanted in a swing. I always believed in, you know, having a hand path and being able to, you know, get the bat through the zone rather than around it. I think the biggest change wasn’t necessarily in what my concept of would be a good swing would create a consistent swing path was that it really had very little to do with the swing itself. First and foremost, we had to look at, you know how the hitters body was working because of the body doesn’t work like you can’t get off the right swing. And it became pretty evident that a tremendous number by 95% of hitters, maybe more work against her bodies. And basically the swings they have, or the swings that their bodies will allow them to have. Not necessarily the swing that we need to be, you know, consistent and effective at baseball.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Yeah, so So if I’m listening and I don’t understand what you mean by the swing, it’s working against the body. Can you explain what that means?

Doug Latta
Well, if you look, eventually, most people think about, you know, hitting a ball, they’ll set the bat up behind them. They’ll bring it around in an arc, you know, around the plate to a point where the barrel is flat hits the ball and then immediately that art continues. Knees around their body. And what that generally means is that we’re going to be moving shoulders, we’re going to be twisting and spinning the hips, which is actually not the way our body generates power. So we call that we were all growing hitters. And it seemed like a lot of work for these players have to try and get the barrel around to the ball, hit it and then finish. So what we look at is, if you look at the elements of the golf swing, and when I say the golf swing, I don’t mean to say that the golf swing is an overlay for the baseball swing. It isn’t. There are dynamic changes in the body that are different when we’re hitting a baseball coming at us. Versus standing in a stationary static position, hit a ball sitting on, you know a tee. But if you look at the golf swing, it goes through point of contact where the golf club will hit the ball. And then continue along that same line forward rather than quickly exhausting often in arc. So the when you make that move, the body is actually working in concert with itself and more of the components that we want are starting to support the move and actually back up the move. The as you think about it for a hitter, most hitters are taught to spin, and that’s where you the front hip, front knee, front shoulder, everything starts coming off plane, again to drag that barrel around. That’s not really a body, you know, proper move our bodies not made for that kind of twisting and torque. And then anybody that does that, just deal with their lower back screaming, right? Yeah. Well, what really made for is we have got a lot of tensile strength as long as we can work underneath our shoulders. So if you keep your shoulders parallel Your head stayed above it, you’re able to just swing your arms through in a line that actually picks up our body strength, and allows us to have a better overall approach. But more importantly, it gets our backside to work the way it’s supposed to, which is everything fires in support the body and then the, to the rear glutes, turn and follow the move. And actually keep that line going that we talked about, rather than just spinning off the legs. Do you recall teaching like squash the bug, hips first, that spinning? And that’s not how our legs work. Our legs are no drive. They’re not meant to spin and not rest of the body either. So yeah, that’s what we try to say. Let’s start getting the body working in a positive way, the way it’s designed, and frankly, I’ve had a lot of success. In most it’s just getting people or hitters to use your bodies better to, you know, take the grind out, can start working in, you know, in concert with their body.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Yeah, so you know that that phrase, you know how how the body works is, is thrown around quite a bit by by a lot of people based on what they teach. And people are now confused that to what they really believe are really how the body should work. So, can you explain how the body works?

Doug Latta
Yeah, well, we probably work from the ground up based upon a balanced setup. And as you know, I have a tremendous bias that I will admit to readily that balances my bias and not only hitting but everything else we do athletically. No one has ever claimed that the body somehow is stronger and more efficient from a position of imbalance. So just Makes sense that, you know, if we’re going to do something athletically, and something is demanding of hitting a baseball, we’d want to do it from the best possible balance we could get to you. So we think about balance of being obviously the equal distribution 5050 of weight, you know, between the feet up between the legs. And what we try to do work from the ground up. We want to make sure that a hitter, you know is in the ground can feel the ground, and basically that their body is centered. And what that means is that their hips are centered inside of both legs. So particularly the back hip isn’t farther over the back leg, which is probably 99% of people pick up a bat. And we’ll talk about that later. But what I want to do is I want to really work to center the hips to make sure that I’m equal and then again, have my upper body my torso and of course, shoulders and head supported it on top of that lower half. So our sequence would be, and every hitter is slightly different. You know, at that their first move is going to be to, you know, most likely pick up their front foot or something along that vein, and then move forward through a second position of balance the 5050 where this where we’re going to begin our swing. So you can envision a hitter in a relaxed setup, and I mean, relax, no tension in the body, because tension slows us down. And one of the other things I always look at is, I really want relaxed shoulders, because if the shoulders are carrying a load or tight or elevated, we don’t feel our legs because we’re actually disconnecting from our legs. So the ability to just sit with relaxed shoulders, and kind of sit in our body, through those balanced hips and into the ground. You’ll feel your legs Everything there, there’s good connection. And by making that mood fit 50 now you come down in your legs out of 5050 you know head story main Center, the head will move forward, but it stays centered in the body. And then we can articulate our swing by getting our top hand to start underneath to create that line we’ve talked about, I think I demonstrated when you’re out here in Northridge. You know, it’s a fairly simple sequence. But the tough thing is, most hitters bodies are not set up after a period of time because essentially, they’re working from compensation. The hitters usually load up over the back leg to some, you know, to either a great degree or a little degree, but that doesn’t allow them to make the clean move forward. So from that point that they’re literally set up, their body is going to make compensation moves to try and get the job done as a hitter you know, tries to find to swing, and all of that has has a price. And I thought, you know, yeah, definitely loss of efficiency. That means a loss of consistency to

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Yeah, you know, what are your thoughts on the screenings, you know, the, the on base view and the FMS, and you know if that’s something that you like, and you are those something that may be kind of, you know, over glorified in your opinion.

Doug Latta
So I think it’s a good idea for athletes, you know, at any level, and again, the functional movement screens are pretty important just to kind of see where an athlete’s body is at the time. And I think that’s a good thing that’s being brought to people’s attention not only for hitting but you know, most other parts of athletic performance to

Geoffrey Rottmayer
what whether or not they by themselves.

Doug Latta
I like that because dictates, you know, just, you know what muscles groups may be weaker than others, you know how things are being sequenced? It can isolate some, you know, some movement imbalances for sure, based upon the body’s you know, that particular player’s physiology. So, I’m in favor, I think that’s not a bad idea. I think the youthful hitters Not to mention all the way up, you know, into the professional ranks. Definitely, by the time they go into high school, some assessment would be a really good idea. And the sooner you get to those assessments as a new start working on the call correctives. It’s something we do here and you’re seeing more and more of it out there in the field, the field as a standalone, they just just what the body’s doing. Now, the more I see a problem is when people some people pay, you know, heavy money Have an attention to internal external rotation. And I think that’s because they still don’t understand really how the swing works and are working from a position where they think there’s more spin or, or torso, torso move in the swing, and I think would be considered ideal. But once again, the use of those feel assessments, the fundamental movement screening, I think are pretty, pretty good idea. And again, the younger you get the body starting to move differently or you know, for corrective stretches or exercises, it’s going to be in a better position to be athletic, for sure. So I did that. I think that’s not a bad thing.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
So with that, what what are some of the things that you have seen with hitters that have prevented them from executing good swings?

Doug Latta
Well, I think you could find that even with some body imbalances that we might isolate on an on a screening, it still would be able to try and understand balance. But then all the other articular movements might be somewhat affected by, you know, the muscle imbalances. So just because they might fail some of the screening or be, you know, negative on some of the screening tests, doesn’t mean that they’re not gonna be able to make adjustments. I don’t want to, you know, say that they can’t, but the nice thing is the typically for the younger hitters, you know, the pre high school high school hitters, even college hitters. I think one of the things we focus a lot on and we isolate is, you know, glute, glute work. A lot, some weaknesses there that a lot of people become very quiet, or type prominent. That could be base position. We’ve got a bunch of characters. In and across the board. Only one of them, you know, has what I would call, you know, going up glutes, but they’re all doing the extra glute work. I think that gets missed in a lot of training and and the glutes can mean so much to just movement and strength. You know, occasionally you’ll see, you know, corresponding, you know, some type of hip flexors, you know, basically all things that can, you know, start being corrected. But do they absolutely prohibit a hitter from getting better? No, but it’s definitely part of the long term project.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
So, so to get more into the the swing, you are big on balance, and this is something that I’ve been paying more attention to, you know, a lot of hitters that up with more weight over their back leg even even just Slightly which can make a big difference. So can you talk about balance man and how a guy can get balanced because you can look at a guy and he looks pretty balanced but but there but there’s he’s slightly more over that backside so I don’t think we really maybe understand balance

Doug Latta
our degree and one of the things that we do obviously we video and hitters look at themselves. And you know people are like a description and I’ll ask how do they look balanced? And some they’ll say, Yeah, they look really balanced. And I’ll say no, they’re over their backlink, there’s more weight over their back leg and it might be somebody to go Oh, I kind of see that. Is that important? Absolutely. And what really happens is it’s human nature, the way we’re designed the way our minds and bodies work, kind of work against us as a hitter because if you hand a four year old to bat You know, they’re probably gonna stand up fairly balanced. But the minute they even hold, like a 10 ounce bat behind them, or flat, or create a position where, you know, there’s way more strain, you know, in the upper body, the back side of the body is going to shift back over the back foot to try and support that way. It’s just, it’s just human nature. So what you wind up with is probably from the word go, most hitters will be more on their back leg than on their front leg. And it might be a, let’s say, 5347. It all matters. Yeah. Because if we’re on top of that back leg in any manner is going to inhibit our ability to really move effectively forward to have the back side actually carry us forward. And as frustrating as it seems, we could work from it. But then by the time he hitters over order that all the moves come ingrained to that dad early position. Yeah, what we recommend is, you know, doing a few exercises just so hitters can feel balanced. We talked about being able to do we call slinky hitter, we’ll get in there setup, squat down, drop down just to feel that there’s center, and they come up, and they take a move to 5050. And they squat again, trying to maintain force or center. I like hitters to be able to look in a mirror to really kind of see how their body is moving. The other thing we like to do is, you know, get in a hitting position or get into a balanced position and turn our feet knees out a little bit, almost as if we’re both legged. And when we get bow legged, we pretty much shove everything into the middle. It gets a really good balance. And then we’ll actually have people start doing the same kind of moves. To do a squat, almost bow legged to just kind Feel where’s my center and start learning to place the center. Now then the drawback comes is when we place the center and we feel really balanced with our you know, hips and pelvis in the middle and everything’s balanced well between the legs, we’ve got to lock in that position before we take our bat and put it on the backside of her body because it’s going to be somewhere between the rib cage obviously in the back shoulder, which means we have a weight and something being held out of balance to the body is going to lower half the body is going to try and get under that you can’t let it so you’ve got to set the lower half. Now the understand balance and then be able to set the upper half independent of the lower half and then start making moves again, over and over. We have hitters just make that move from their setup. If 5050 older players even younger players can carry a you know a plate weight like a 10 pound weight or 25 point weight or 45 pound weight for the You know, the young men and the professional players and center a plate and make a move to 5050 holding that plate and being sure that the plates stay centered to their torso. And that plate is held with the hands underneath the armpits because we want no tension the shoulders same time. Anything that kind of builds that balance, you know, I’m 100% in on.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Yeah, so you got a kid that does the move of a quad dominants squat. What the feel that we need to be relaying to them is the weight on the toes, the heel, the instep. What What should they be feeling well,

Doug Latta
when you if they, again, if they’re quad dominant, obviously we’re going to try and have them try to feel if they can learn to activate the glutes. There is a ton of glute activation and glute movement exercises that are you know, our social media on the internet. I’d strongly advise parents and players to kind of look look at Those whether it be glute bridges or variations of you know different other glute planks, etc. There’s a ton out there. But some of it’s just that they’re really glute DOM and then when I’ll also make sure they’re in the middle, but then I have just kind of activate the glutes a little bit, just kind of pinch them wherever they are, find them, just set them up with kind of said everything in the middle, there shouldn’t be too much weight on the, on the in the thighs, because that probably means that we’re too heavy in the size. So, group middle and down, you know, elevator down in the middle, if they’re, if they’re going to do the squat from there. But it should also be something that when you’re going up and down, you’re kind of feeling you know that the the glue does take you down and the glute is pulling you up

Geoffrey Rottmayer
nicely and then we talked about a forward move to balance. A couple things with the forward move, you know that that means that the entire body it takes In a nice controlled movement forward, not just the front leg, and then the what what the rule of thumb with you as far as the distance of how far once you move forward?

Doug Latta
Well, the actual movements going to change when it comes to life pitching, but we, you know, the is it regulated by inches or feet, not necessarily but we should have some controlled move from our backside to that forward position and the forward position will restore swing, so you know, we kind of call the 5050. So, all those setups is going to be balanced, good ideas moving from setup to the best possible 5050 we can get to and the key to that is being able to kind of move like said carry the center of your body, your head straight down in the center, being able to keep it steady as well, as you move to that 5050 the toughest Is is instead of having people reach away with the front foot or step away with their front foot is having the back side be able to actually make the move forward where the front sides just coming down rather than reaching. There are some good drills here is a monster lateral walk with a band resistance band around the upper knees, which we like. That also is similar to the idea of being bow legged. And just making lateral moves without changing your hip position. We’ve found that to become an effective idea for a hitter to start feeling their moves. It’s just reincorporating you know, natural body movement into a body that gets completely trained to do something different. So that moved to 5050. We could spend hours talking about that one.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Yeah. So the you are also big on No back ship. Can you talk about that a little bit?

Doug Latta
Yeah, the back ship is any move that hitters you know, first move is to either move back over their back foot, or back past x foot, or in some ideas, the idea of loading the hands and arms back to create power. We want to eliminate all of that because it actually works against the hitter. And it’s, it’s sad because it’s a lot of that’s very prevalent in, in hitting instruction. When we talk about the back shift, we’re talking, you know, there might be minute clicks that you may not even be able to see without video, but we’re not going to see the back hip move over the back foot. We’re not going to see the back hip move over the back foot. What if we’re set up properly, we should have that back hip inside that back leg so we’re in a good 5050 it should be able to make a clean move forward without having to go back first. They also realize that with that concept of upper arm loading, load the hands behind to create separation. These are also things that forced a back shift because again, now we’re moving away, now we’re making a body move that the body is going to try and maintain a strength underneath it. And that gets us in trouble. And the sad thing is, the farther back your hands go, the less consistent you can be as a hitter and it actually takes away power. Because now you turn into a shoulder hitter because when your arms get that far behind you, you’re going to make shoulder turns to come around the ball. And that upper body may feel strong, but nothing and the minute you go there, you lose the lower half. You’re not going to get the glutes and legs to work the way they need to. So you become basic upper body hitter, and strength of that, you know, chest shoulder back, that doesn’t compare to what that you know those glutes and those sides That lower half can provide. So you know some of that teaching about creating power. Well, I always tell people, if you watch somebody throw a baseball, we never do any of those things to throw a baseball. And if those magical things that teach hitting, create power, I guarantee you that would create power to throw too and it does it. So if you fall throwing mechanics, which I believe is a closer overlay to hitting then, you know, like a lot of people think golf is the throwing mechanics and the way our body moves is all about balance and movement, holding the center, rather than counter stacking on top of one side of the body, and then reaching behind that point, and then trying to do something athletically. So the key is to eliminate the back shift. Learning to again move as we as we ordinarily would move, to remember a lot of back shift can be created from the hip and the pelvis. in a bad position over the back leg, you know, or, you know, the body responding to the backward move of the shoulders and the backward moves to the hands, trying to get a load or, you know, gather or coil the hips, some of the things are being taught, because we know that once that happens, the body is compromised, we’re going to be in compensation mode, and we’re not going to be efficient as we possibly can.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Yeah, and that’s tough because you have the the tech out there, and they have all the parameters and, and some really get bought it bought into, you know, their structure or their coaches having this k Beth, and the data looking really good. But that must mean something right? And that kind of thing. And you know, that k Beth kind of encourages some of that bash shifting of the hand, among others. So, you know, I like the data just as much as anybody out there but I I’ve kind of gotten to a point where you know, talking with you or some others, where we need to figure out, you know, what the playable and whatnot in terms of what’s useful for for our hitters. So what’s your take on the tech, you know, the cave as and the question of how this we should be

Doug Latta
well, obviously I agree there’s there’s a lot of data out there. But remember people forget that is always subject to interpretation and you’ve got to kind of isolate where that data is being generated. The key is we see that too. And once you understand kind of the body moves in the cave as becomes almost unnecessary. For the reason is that when you get the body moving, right, we’re going to be generating the forces we need to and you know, the I’ve seen the effects in data presentations using the cave And, you know, everybody’s like, saw the charts and everything else. And, you know, they put on a corresponding swing analysis on it. And the swing I see is absolutely horrific. As in something I would never teach a hitter. And yet, you know, because you’ve got the K vest on it go this data like this, this, this and this, but, you know, they’re actually teaching I don’t care what the cave is tells them. And if they’re basing numbers on what that cave is, is telling them based upon that body move. It’s simply wrong. It’s not a good swing. And I think that’s where, you know, we’ve gotten the point where people are looking at, you know, these things like eggs to blast and launch angle and data, which is, what’s really important is, what we’re seeing and how the body’s moving and how that swing is being created. As we spoke about in that clinic, that where you participated, things like class motion, Diamond kinetics are out there, and people are you know, buying into them 100%. And those algorithms are wrong, because if you look at the way they actually don’t only demonstrate a swing, but some of those people are actually now trying to instruct people how to hit. I mean, on their websites and, and on their social media pages. They’re showing people drills and patterns of movements that are absolutely horrific. And what we call fatal flaws in swings, because it’s based upon their concept of hitting about getting the barrel around to the ball, which is not what you want. And it really puts the body in a compromised position. And, you know, so I get a little upset when I see that because you put that data out there, or you put the device out there or you start using the drills that these people tell you to use. And I guarantee you, you’re not going to be a better hitter. You might have success at one level or another, but you’re going to run very quickly to a point where That swing is not going to work. And unfortunately, when you practice that swing, you’re using probably all the poor sequencing, that creates the worst patterns that we have to try and fix. And here’s the bad thing. You know, it depends on where you’re at level of the game, how much time you got left, what kind of, you know, time you’ve got, you know, to make adjustments. You may not have enough time to get it right before, you know, you can’t play. Yeah, for instance, you know, how long does a youth player have, you know, they’re getting ready for high school? How long do they have to work on building a good framework? Once you get to high school? Well, the boys are going to want to or the boys and girls are going to want to compete to you know, have a position. So how much time do we have here to try and rework nobody moves? Once get to high school and go to college or professional ball, same things apply? Get minor leaguers and major leaguers. And those guys have different timeframes. Because, you know, one may just be at the beginning of a career. And another may be towards the end or another at that critical point where they’ve got to produce or they’re going to be out of the game. So the key to me is that we got to be careful, I wish we could, you know, be a lot more careful. Because unfortunately, parents and and coaches too, are really impressed what they see, you know, advertised on social media or discussed on social media or, you know, I know, you know, organizations use those, you know, I’ve, we’ve seen it force plates, we’ve seen all of that stuff out there. But the key is, that’s all nice, but what does it really mean and what happens if we’re wrong? What happens if the concepts that we’re trying to use these devices to prove or disprove, but as if they’re wrong? Yeah, well, that has unfortunate really a bad impact on the hitters. So I think Like I said, if being able to maintain and understand how the body moves, and just visually be able to ascertain how pieces are going together, you may not need to understand you know what your particular sequence is. I always want to know what the theater doing. I want to know just you know how we’re actually in the ground, how we’re landing. G’s are a parts of it too. But once you understand that the body starts moving, and when you start getting to that point, all of the other directions fall together. So I don’t think we’re going to have data be able to make any might provide some information to some players or coaches trying to learn something, but it has an absolute No, it’s can be a nice thing to have. Is it absolutely necessary? Well, we’re accumulating data when we have video working with data when we’re on the field and watching how balls hit works. You know why? Spin, seeing the spin. So that’s data accumulation to and that doesn’t have to be, you know, on a charge or on a graph. So there is a way that you’re looking at it. Bottom line is, we go out there and compete better a batch in a game. You know, that’s the data, we need to know. We’re feeling better in a game we’re making better contact your coach, you see it, you get it. Dad is nice, but by itself, it doesn’t make a better hitter.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Right. And you mentioned the diamond kinetic in the blast, you know, for the people that are listening. Those they measured the bat getting flat, and then using your shoulders to turn them. It’s creating what’s called the shoulder swing. So what we’re really needed to talk about is that the hand needs to go down the line and hitting through the ball. So can you talk a little bit about hitting threw the ball birth hitting to the ball.

Doug Latta
Well, like so we talked about if you take too much idea of the shoulder swing, which they’re fabricating out there, sadly, probably to to large extent based upon where we should be in the game. But that means that our shoulders are turning off plane, they’re making an arc around with the extension of that arc being our hands on the bat, to get the bat to a point where it hits the ball. And then when you continue that spin around, and you know, we go off offline, the biggest thing I tell people for us, we want to get to that position of 5050. And it’s like I want to put my front hand in in a pocket for now. And I want to have my right hand and my elbow right at my ribcage and my right hand pointed out over the plate, probably above which is inside of my back foot. And then I just want to just steak all the way forward to from A to B. And as I do that just bring hand and elbow, straight down the line. And what that means is that the bat follows that pattern and allows me to have a lot of contact points out in front. We’re not getting balls up at the plate. If we’re, if we’re set up in a game, we’re on the plate, we’re hitting at the plate where we’re getting beat up a little bit, we want to get contact out in front through the ball. So it’s going to look like is when I swing, my bat gets to a point of contact, the ball gets hit yet my bat tries to continue along the same line as that contact. The Arc would be or the you know, added around it would be that hits the ball and immediately starts going off playing, you know, flat around the body. And there’s just, you know, again, we talked about the posterior chain, the strength of the body when we Hit through the ball in that kind of that squatting or spanking or movement mode motion, whole backside now follows that move just like it does when we throw. And it’s just a bump. It’s where bodies are designed, so clean and efficient. And once you start crawling those kind of strengths and forces, you know, fall cert you are using it all just starts jumping off the bat. Yeah. Yeah, and I’m sure since you Yeah, go ahead.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Yeah, yeah, sorry. I was just gonna say, you know, something that you said when I was out there that I thought was good for the focus on the body movement in the hand path, not so much hitting the ball, because the focus of hitting the ball leads to more trying to get the barrel to the ball, which sometimes is, it’s caused with the use of the shoulder.

Doug Latta
But and again, as these times about it, although it’s completely the way we’re our bars are designed for maximum efficiency and force and stability. The minute we, you know, picked up a bat and flattened it out, we started using our bodies wrong. Yeah. So, I mean, and that’s, you know, people talk to me about all this new way of hitting and I tell people, are you kidding me? If we’d hit like this, in the 19 100 years ago, in the 1920s, it would have worked because its body efficient. We weren’t being as efficient as we had to be. But again, you know, it just Of course, evolved around people learning the game of baseball and not really thinking too much about it other than hit the ball, I needed to do this. And I you know, over that works, I’ll go for. So, you know, it’s now that we’re looking at trying to change, you know, basically, oh, wait 100 years or more. You know, bed, potty movement training for a substantial number of players in the game.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
And we hit through the ball with the the outside pitch, the middle, in the inside, so there isn’t a different swing for each position.

Doug Latta
In fact, I’m hoping to get a clip of ft. Rendon last night, had an app that where he took a pitch away, I think it was a one two pitch. He took a pitch that was away, and you’ll see how his hands came right in the same slot. You never saw anything going out at the ball away. But we’re going to be able to publish that clip where you realize from that one hand path, I can cover the whole zone. You know, I don’t need to push the barrel around. But the problem with young hitters and hitters that have been, you know, barrel swingers or shoulder swingers or You know, all those variants out there, they don’t know how not to go after the ball with the barrel because their body has always put it in position where that’s what has to happen. So the key is, as you say, it’s just a matter of seeing how we can start training to take better swings, then be able to be consistent those better swings in a practice environment, then be able to take those field swings out into competitive environment into a game and start trying to become consistent. Yeah, but you have to overcome all that wiring mentally as well as, as physically. But once they start having some success, then you can build on that consistency.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Yeah. And I think, you know, at least from what I’m seeing, if, if a guy gets the setup, right, and they’re balanced, and they’re moving forward, they should be fine. But that the other thing that I’ve been kind of noticing and starting to pay more attention to is it the, the the tension level? You know, they get everything right, but the tension level is, you know they’re too tense, then that’s going to tend to lead to more of that front shoulder pulling off. So so the tension level matters.

Doug Latta
Absolutely. It’s so tough because obviously sitting in the box and the game is, is definitely an anxious environment that’s going to have potential for a lot of tension. So it’s almost counter again to human nature, but we have to really get as relaxed as possible. And, you know, get the shoulders out of it, and be almost upper body neutral, just relaxed, in order to have, you know, our maximum effect when we make that move and, you know, start our swing. But that’s another reason you see a lot of the kids are very children engaged. That’s tension Not only that, that take them out of their legs, and create bad body boots, but also creates a lot of, you know, upper body tension, which is, you know, going to have a negative impact not only on how they’re moved, but also how they see, vision is directly impacted by the tension. So, you know, constantly it’s, you know, how relaxed Can you be, you know, which is completely antithetical for anybody that, you know, it’s three, two pitch bottom of the night, you know, game situation online, and now go hit. So, you know, anxiety as part of our game. But we have to make it less of a part, the only way to succeed is once again, you know, paying to relax and as calm as possible. And then of course, trusting that all the work you’ve done. Is there.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Yeah, and another word, another word that gets thrown around a lot is adjustability. Can you talk about that a little bit.

Doug Latta
Oh, absolutely, you know, we talk, it all comes back to the same thing we talked about being balanced moving properly. adjustability is the ability for me to, you know, start my move and be able to handle different pitches, different locations that quickly because if I have no adjustability, I start my swing then either I get through a dome, and in most cases, that means I’m probably going to get blown up. But as we talked about being able to go in that line and maintain that hand path, allows us to be able to hit in a line which means I can get to the fastball, but I still have enough time and ability to actually continue to adjust to other pitch speed movements and locations. We pretty much show people that the minute that the top hand comes around the bottom hand, or you know the wrist or breaking we’ve lost All adjustability, which means we can only get to a very limited number of balls. And, you know, that may not be as evident at the lower levels of the game. But once a hitter is exposed to, you know, we’ve been in velocity, and then of course better, you know, spin game. He holds those swings are just exposed, and hitting now becomes almost impossible. Yeah, so what we want to think we definitely want to think about having that swing path we talked about that goes hand in line, the ADB line that gives us adjustability downstream. And anybody that thinks that we can be perfect, well, we can’t take any swing, duplicated 100% to a certain point in time. Now, it’s a variation of what’s happening, you know, across the board in pitching, and I’ll just tell you, I’m not a golfer. But I think a lot of people have just been consistent with the golf balls standing on threat not even threatening them, you know, down below and taking a swing at it. So the dimensions of difficulty go away. So, there’s not a need for adjustability and golf, that ball is always going to be where you place it. in baseball, we have to be able to contend with, you know, you know, between 98 and 78. with, you know, various movements, it’s going to get worse. And that’s, you know, I’m not saying that the amateur player, the high school player, college players don’t deal with, you know, increasingly better pitching they do. But what I feel is that from the minute they start swinging the bat, they should have the moves and the patterns that are going to be able to carry them and allow them to adjust to their pitching.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Yeah, yeah. Okay. Can you talk about that? Those kids that get really top hand heavy and they break that rip really early and turn them back out of the zone. Can you talk about that a little bit?

Doug Latta
Well, you know, that’s usually they’re trying to kind of get the barrel control. But you also start realizing that becomes a very limited contact point. Because, you know, they’re going around the ball, generally. And again, this could be, you know, like, a lot of stronger earlier. You know, I call the manchild, the kids, it gets stronger earlier age, they develop a little faster. They can actually be more physical at the ball. And everybody suddenly says, Oh, my God, look, this kid is gonna be great. And then suddenly by high school or college, they’re not even on the scene because the mechanics that they applied with their physicality, weren’t going to allow them to adjust. So just being able to get the barrel on the ball now seems to work. But that’s a diminishing return. When you start seeing pitching get harder, a little bit better velocity. And definitely, when you know the curves of sliders and change ups are getting better, and guys, you’re gonna be able to throw those consistently. So in any one that’s gonna be like a top hand dominant, trying to like control the barrel. Now I’ll say the top and a dominant underneath, but not around here. So I’m talking about the kid that’s bringing that barrel around, just realize that they’re not going to be able to cover a fraction, they might cover a third of the pitches, possibly addressing cover them well, but just because of what that move means, if you look at the strike zone, and you look at what the hand and barrel are doing, you know, it’s like from the pictures you Do you realize, you know, there’s some tremendous holes in there.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Yeah, so So talking about the barrel and I know you’re not a big fan about talking about it, you know, you’d rather Talking about the hand, but, but if you go on social media, you’re gonna see the barrel flying over place. So what was should the barrel be doing?

Doug Latta
actually want to see, ideally, we don’t want to see a lot of pre pre pitch swing that movement behind this particular claptrap because that put it is heaviest. And I have no other choice but to bring it around as we talked about to make an arc swing. So, once you get to that 5050 we’re looking at our hands probably being fairly vertical, somewhere very close to, you know, you know, top hand on top of bottom hand, maybe slightly off, but it’s going to be up and down. And then the barrel is just static following the hands as they pull you into that line we talked about to go into the HB path. And the bat will just be following that move until the point that now we started Getting closer to the front of the body. And now we’re going to sync it all together. And then the hands may make a move from the barrel there to the ball. And that’s happening for us from that a beeline, which that’s your adjustability. But I don’t really want to see the bat certainly starting to swing behind the hitter, either in an arc or even in a flat zone because that’s called dumping the barrel. Yeah, I really want to kind of create almost a, you know, the bat will be parallel to the ground as it’s getting probably to my midsection. You know, just be led by the hands.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Yeah, so, so good, man. So we’ve been talking about about the swing, I’d like to talk a little bit about about hitting. You get to work with great hitters across all levels. How do you help them understand what their approach should be?

Doug Latta
Well as people think You know, every hitter is different. At the major league level, there’s an incredible information that’s available to a hitter on you know, the opposing pitcher, what their history has been, you know, you know, what’s their predictability from a point of certain pitches in certain counts and situations. What that pitchers done over the last field three stars or three appearances you know, spin rate, there’s a lot of data that’s out there for hitters. There’s also you know, the edge station of how that you know, pitcher going to try and pitch you set the highest level of the game. There’s a lot of information available. But it still comes down to the approach of each hitter is going to be slightly different. As I’ve always talked about, you know, building a hitter there’s no it’s not one size fits all the same thing has to go for approach. Yeah. And I think that filters down into You’re, you know, obviously collegiate and, you know, high school levels. Or youthful, obviously, the younger the hitter, the simpler you want the approach. And I guess Above all, I’d want hitters to be progressive from the standpoint of really trying to, you know, really go after their strikes out. The problem is you don’t want them, you know, you want to kind of temper their aggressiveness, rather than try to overcome them being passive if you know what I mean. Yeah, what the one you want them wanting to hit, you want them, you know, swinging the bat. Now as you get up in high school, and you’ve got, you know, a little different, you know, pitching modality coming at them. It’s matter of trying to, you know, figure what are the strengths of this hitter? You know, can he handle the whole plate, does he have good coverage? Or does he have a problem, you know, Getting into lane one, or lane two, a lot of hitters of appeals split the plate and we’ll talk about lane one, middle in lane two middle away. Sometimes there’s three lanes. But the key being that whatever the swing of the hitter, what they can handle, you know if their swing isn’t going to, let’s say you’re saying, look, you know, you’re going to we’re going to sit lean to, which is a way we’re going to, you know, drive the pitch away. Well, that won’t work if that hitter swing doesn’t allow him to do that. So sometimes we have to take into account what this hitter is capable of doing it where the hitter is in the lineup, what you expect from this hitter. There are certain guys that you probably want to be, you know, fairly particular when they hit you they have guys that you’re going to go deeper into accounts. And then on the flip side, you know you’re going have other hitters with, you know, lesser or you know, different abilities, which their approach has to be based on where they’re likely to be in a game and what the situation is. So, again, I guess the broadest approach, I can give that work through, but is how relaxed Can you be in your setup? Yeah, it all starts there. If you think that I’m ready to relax and go fusible, we’re probably going to be pretty good. And by the way, that’s just what we do two strikes two. I think I think we talked about that is, you know, people panic when, you know, when there’s two strikes, there’s no reason to. Yeah, it’s just coaches overreact to it. Parents overreact to it, you know, we’re gonna strike out and there’s no big deal to it. It’s, it’s not that big deal if people seem toprefer a pop up or

45 hopper to pitcher as a better than Australia, but hey, alto now we’re going to make a lot more out to our life that we are going to have successes and you know places that you’re going to be swinging misses, but the problem is if the getting hitters to just relax, don’t do anything different, really relaxed and go see the ball. You know go on time we’ll see the ball. Don’t wait to say I gotta make sure it’s a strike because by the time you’re waiting to see about make sure it’s a strike. Yeah, you’re gonna be late or trouble. Yeah, yeah, that element of timing always comes in.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Right and you see that all the time. You know, they’re, so whatever they’re doing, they’re they’re trying to let the ball get deep. They’re trying to stay back. They’re trying to see the ball, the strike, and then they’re trying to cover every pit that the pitcher has. And instead of just saying I’m gonna get the fastball and I’m gonna catch it out front. truck, my swing world, just two other pitches.

Doug Latta
Ingo, I mean, I know that it will, the average person is not going to understand that but that’s, that’s the exact absolute key to hitting, I’m going to be on time for the fastball. And I’m going to be able to make my adjustments. Because if I’m doing everything right, I will be able to have better pitch recognition, understanding what’s coming at me. If I’m on time, which generally most people don’t understand, good timing would probably fall under everybody’s criterias Oh, they’re early. Well, yes, I’d rather I want to be early, I want to be moving to balance. I want to be starting that move, you know, right when the pitcher pulls ball out of the glove, and I’m going to learn to try to adjust from there, you know, but being able to do that game changer. Right, both. Like I said, most young hitters, you know, wait to see the ball coming at them before they start. And then they’re making decisions and The good ones can kind of rock it that barrel around hit the bone or everybody applauds. But the reality is, it’s not the way we want to swing. And that’s where you get those upper body swings. It’s kind of just developed from there. Yeah. relaxed, but you can go see the ball works all the way around.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Yeah, so let me ask you this. You got a hitter and he’s hitting well, but the swing we know, won’t translate to the upper levels. But but he’s hitting. So for the coach in the parent, do you do let him go? Or do you bring awareness?

Doug Latta
Well, here’s the tough one. For me, it’s where is this player at? You know, at his level, if he’s getting ready to go to high school, or he’s in high school, getting ready to go to college. If they’re having some success. When they come in to me, I’m still going to be looking for the things that are going Going to be issues later. Now, if somebody’s swinging the bat, well, they’re going to stay with that hot streak, I get that. But we also have to present out that let’s say the 12 year old or 13 year old who’s really hitting the ball really well at their level. And if you look at that swing and understand, you know, what are going to be the problems later? Here’s the tough question. If you continue swinging, the way he’s swinging, he’s just building in a worse pattern and muscle movement that may not be easily corrected. So when that failure does happen? Well, it could, it could be a lot more. It could be intensely more difficult to try and fix that. On the flip side, if somebody’s sitting, kind of let him hit. I mean, we see that if you look at Major League Baseball, I can see that there are a lot of variations to swings and Take the top hitters in the game, they all look different. So as long as you know guys getting the job done, you got to kind of step back at higher levels. Unless you see something, you know, you know is going to be a long term detriment. But usually, like I said, the key is, where do you want this hitter to be? Because when do you want them to start working on corrective moves when they’re failing? Or before they start failing? Yeah. Well, there’s that yeah. So a lot of it’s come from level to hitter. For you and the season, you’re going into play out season for high school baseball, you’re kind of going to let things be presumed you want guys comfortable with going in that competition? So the trick is being able to understand what blues are going to be in the future. And maybe it just be let’s get your timing earlier. Right, right might be something non swing related from one standpoint. Just try to get pieces or the littlest thing in that might be you know, something you can build from you know for the future swing that’s a tough one. And again it just takes in get all the variables involved for a younger hitter you know, pre High School, absolutely get after it, you want them to be at their best when they’re learning to compete and the sooner they have a good swing, you know, or better swing mechanics in between they take is going to build them for the future, not tear them down. So I think you know, and then of course, younger High School players as well because, you know, they’re going to want to compete at their highest level. So it’s, it’s going to be one of those, you know, almost individual by individual determinations, but me, I’m like, let’s start this process getting fixed as soon as we can without causing somebody to be too uncomfortable. Now, there are cases where obviously I work people and you’re going to get uncomfortable but you know, we have to get this done. We’re under a deadline, you know? Yeah, no ifs, ands or buts about it, we got to perform. Yeah, well, but likely most youth players, most non professional players, or sub college players may feel that there are, we have time. So, you know, starting to work might, you know, do this revamp, there might be a time where we can suffer through a little bit of quote unquote, being uncomfortable.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Yeah. And some kids need to, you know, unfortunately, you could show them and you and you could talk about it, but some kids are not going to buy in until they fail enough, which it would be really unfortunate.

Doug Latta
Absolutely. And, and, you know, the kids and the parents are out there looking at social media and all that there’s a lot of self promotion up there. And, you know, there’s no filters there’s, you know, I don’t know it’s, it’s like, you know, almost out of control the Look at all these things and, you know, you have to be very careful what you buy into what’s really going to work and it’s not a matter of, you know, don’t listen. You know, don’t listen to me talk by hitting go watch your hitters hit. And then she, how that fits what they’re doing. You know, but, but there’s so many things out there that these kids and parents are exposed to that really work against them. You know, and, you know, fixing it later. not the easiest thing. I mean, I wish there was a magic button on every hitter, but I think you’ve done enough hitters realize it takes a lot more work to get a new habit. Yeah, but if you love the game of baseball, you expect to play and you’re gonna do what it takes to try and get better.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
So so a couple more questions, Doug, I don’t want to take up more of your time. You know, I know. Right now you are the resource What are some of your your resorts? What did you have any go to resources? Got it? No.

Doug Latta
Obviously, people in the game that I talked to we share ideas and all and my guess. Yeah, yeah, there’s not necessarily a resource. You know, there might be someone I might talk to, but generally, I’m doing get people calling me. Right, right. Yeah, no, no. Yeah, cuz I might be a resource. Yeah, I think I think what it I know sounds funny, but we’ve kind of been doing this a long time where, you know, we can we’re kind of seeing what’s going on, we’re kind of ready to have a really good idea of how to put the body in a better position of late nights that I’ve done a couple of people in the kinesiology field that I like going to so I would say they’re definitely resources because their level of expertise is far beyond mine could ever be on that physical side of things, my understandings good, but they have the gift of being able to figure out now, for this person, this is exercises we want them to do. So I would say yeah, there are some resources out there. Yeah. Yeah. It definitely made me think about that when Jeff.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
So if you were me and you were interviewing yourself right now, what would you have asked that I didn’t ask.

Doug Latta
I thought you did a pretty good job. I’m trying to think from a listener standpoint, what would be something that, you know, they’d love to hear that neither of us thought to talk about or ask. And I think we pretty much covered it. Yeah. I think I think the key is, if I have younger hitters, you know, all the hitters are working on balance. From the major league down and I do work with amateurs so we have I entered it helps me really understand the human body better to watch how amateurs move how young amateurs move, how, what the levels of human development are in, you know, making changes and things like that. But for younger hitters, definitely lots of balance work. I like to keep the bat light on the shoulder rather than trying to create additional muscle torque by trying to have to hold it up, attention in the muscles, relax, good move to the ball, get a nice, you know, kind of the sweep idea that kind of effect all swing idea of getting down that line and and over. Other than that, I think we have to wait for your listeners to come up some questions for us.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Doug did this has been awesome man and for the people that are listening, you know, john, Jonathan gellner, who is a A friend of ours, you know, he had his own podcast called ahead of the curve, which I highly recommend checking out and, and you know him and Craig Hyatt and Doug, they did a bunch of clips together and you can find that on YouTube on his, you know, ahead of the curve YouTube channel. So you can get kind of more of a visual of what we’re talking about here today. So Doug,

Doug Latta
Oh, absolutely. That’s a great point. That’s a great point. Good job. It’s I think that’s a tough thing. Jeff, you’re right, because we can talk about things and we can see it in our head or, or what we feel. Yeah. But for a listener, yeah, to be able to tie that to some video ideas. That that’s good. Thanks for that. It’s a good plug too. Thanks.

Geoffrey Rottmayer
Yeah, yep, absolutely. Doug, thank you for coming on.

Doug Latta
Well, I hope to see you soon too. By the way.

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Download now: Ep. 58: The Ball Yard with Doug Latta | A Baseball Podcast

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Geoff Rottmayer

Geoff Rottmayer is the owner of Athletic Mission Baseball Academy, a training facility in Tulsa Oklahoma. Geoff also host The Baseball Awakening Podcast, which was developed to provide content to the baseball community straight from the source. In addition that that, Geoff, is helping coaches and professional start their own podcast and find their own voice.

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