Why the Controversy
Letter from Don Slaught, President of Rightview Pro
Most of the controversy over instruction stems directly from a miscommunication either between coaches or between coaches and players. RVP has set out to resolve the major controversies over the proper mechanics of pitching and hitting by providing the coaches and players the technology, the models, and the instruction to help them communicate more effectively. RVP has helped define and standardize instruction in both baseball and softball by creating a product that lets you slow the motion down, see it from every angle, and compare all the best, while listening and watching some of the top instructors in the country define and illustrate the key principles of the motion. Below I will list some of the major controversies and explain how RightView Pro can help provide the answer.
Focusing on just one Principle
Nothing illustrates this better than the controversy between Charlie Lau (weight shift or linear theories) and Ted Williams (rotational theories). Both men were correct in their analyses but they both chose different principles to accentuate. The most efficient swing is a product of both linear and rotational forces. Ted Williams, Charlie Lau, and all of our Major League Models display the principles of weight shift (linear) and rotation in their swings.
RightView Pro focuses on what all the great hitters do and shows the linear move into rotation. It also illustrates what makes these hitters more successful or more efficient. RightView Pro defines these principles and delivers them in an easily understood fashion.
Words mean different things to different people. Two great examples are the terms “Launch Position” and “Power Position” to describe the position after the stride. Students take this to mean that they are in a strong position with tension ready to blast off. The problem is that the position itself is not inherently strong nor can the student blast off with his hands behind him. The student is just in a position that will allow him to take a strong powerful swing with acceleration through the ball. When we draw our fist back to punch, we are just in a position to deliver a blow. We are not flexing anything to feel strong nor do we feel a lot of tension. The majority of the acceleration does not take place until the hands get in front of your center of gravity.
RVP uses terms that are easy to understand and do not add unwanted connotations. In the example above, RVP uses the term “toe touch” to define the frame of the video in question and defines the position as “The ready position.” We get ready to swing, and then we swing. RVP also uses video to define the movements. Words are subjective; while the video is objective. “Video can’t lie.” It would be very tough to teach, “Squish the bug” when none of the Major League or Fast Pitch models spin on their back foot.
Lack of access to the best models
Most people only get to see the Major League swings at game speed. This limits the amount of analysis that can be done. For example, with the naked eye a person can see that the Major League hitters start in a 50/50 stance and finish their swing in a 50/50 position. The problem arises when there is the assumption that the weight remained at 50/50 throughout the swing. During the swing virtually all of the weight gets transferred into the front side and then transfers back to roughly a 50/50 position at the finish of the swing.
RightView Pro provides the user both the technology and the models necessary to thoroughly analyze the swing in a way never seen before (60 frames per second—twice as many fields as TV or standard Video). The other big advantage is the ability to have four of the best hitters in the game synchronized and side-by-side on the same screen. This enables the user to study all the principles present in the Major League swing. Time and experience have also confirmed the similarity of the swing for baseball and fast pitch softball. This helps explain the popularity of the RVP approach for fast pitch players.
Limitations of selected medium
Books and videos are limited in the information they can provide. Once they are printed and on the shelves there is no way to update or improve the information. Wade Boggs said it best, “The only thing harder then hitting is to write about hitting.” If you have ever tried to talk about hitting over the phone you know how hard it is to get your point across. Books provide still images but leave the reader wanting to see what happened just before and just after. Posed pictures in books create their own inherent problems because the only place one can accurately pose is in the “stance” or at the “finish” of a swing. Videotapes provide only 30 frames per second and cannot be easily updated.
RVP is dynamic and interactive. It is our goal to have it grow and improve through the use of updates and upgrades as new information and new features are available.
Credibility without proper content
“Hitting” and “teaching hitting” are two very different skills. All good hitters know what it feels like to swing the bat well but that doesn’t mean they know exactly what they are doing or how to deliver information to a student. What a player thinks he is doing and what he is actually doing can be very different.
RVP’s instant visual feedback can improve everyone’s coaching ability by providing a means for better communication between the coach and student.
Sciences answering the wrong question
The sciences have been studying hitting for many years. Physics studies the forces involved in the swinging of the bat and the amount of force that is applied to the ball at contact. The study of biomechanics looks at how our body can generate the forces necessary to swing the bat at high speeds. Neurologists look at the decisions and neuron response times necessary to hit a ball traveling at 90 m.p.h.; and how the human mind calculates how, when, and where the ball will cross the plate. Vision specialists study the visual cues that our minds use to determine when and where to swing. All of these sciences give us clues to becoming a better hitter but just one or even all of these sciences cannot answer the real question of how we hit. No one has been able to re-create a model that represents all the factors and forces involved in a batter’s swing. The real equation is: How do we deliver as much force into the ball, while hitting through the biggest zone possible, while being the most efficient to the ball?
RVP believes the best hitters in the game provide the answer. Instead of trying to recreate the perfect model, we have asked the sciences to define what the best hitters do. What principles do you find in all our models? What makes them more efficient or more successful?
RVP provides the evidence that all our models are virtually the same from “toe –touch” through “extension.” These models demonstrate that there is really only one efficient way to hit.
Coaches tend to talk about and describe flaws they see in the swing but neglect to recognize that the player cannot see himself. Hitters hit by feel and any minute change can feel very big. This forces coaches to exaggerate their words in order to get the student to make the correct adjustments. An example of this would be when a coach tells his player to swing down on the ball in order to keep him from collapsing their backside. The problem arises when the player now believes that he/she is, and should be, swinging down on the ball instead of swinging on the plane of the pitch.
What a player thinks he is doing and what he is actually doing can be very different. RVP uses the video to show the player exactly where he/she is vs. where he/she should be. The coach now has the tool to correct the problem with accurate descriptions.
You can only teach what you know.
Instruction has come a long way in the last 20 years but there is a tendency to use the same phrases and teaching techniques we were taught in our youth. Hitting instruction today utilizes modern visual technologies that were not available 20 years ago. Nobody teaches things wrong on purpose. Gandhi said it best. “If I seem inconsistent in my teaching it is because of my pursuit of the truth and I can only relate the truth as it is revealed to me.”
The RVP technology helps you expand your knowledge and is helping us learn more and more about the dynamics of hitting. Just like the VCR revolutionized hitting instruction in the early 1980’s, this system is revolutionizing how we learn and teach hitting today. I am excited about the things we have learned but I am equally excited about the things we will learn in the future using this technology.
Hitting instruction has become too controversial
All coaches, players, and instructors have theories on hitting, but they have stopped sharing and challenging their beliefs for fear of arguments that they cannot resolve.
I hit .269 in my first eight years in the Big Leagues and I hit over .300 in my last eight years. I hit over 30 points higher in my 30’s because I challenged conventional wisdom, listened and read everything I could find on hitting, and then set out to prove it right or wrong.
The RVP products provide everyone the proof and the references to challenge, share, and communicate their instruction. I also believe the number one responsibility of a coach is to remain a student of the game.
RVP has set out to define the core principles of the hitter’s swing in baseball and fastpitch softball, and to provide the most accurate descriptions of those principles. We believe our product can bridge the gap from coach to coach and from coach to player. It is very tough to teach something wrong when you are looking at the very best. My son said it best when he was only eight-year-old, “Oh, Dad, it’s easier to show than to explain.”
The Hitting Equation
“How do I deliver as much force as possible into the ball, while hitting in the biggest zone possible, while being the most efficient to the ball? I believe the best hitters in the game provide the answer.”