“I Think Being Reliable Is Underrated. People Want a Player on Your Team That’s Reliable. They Don’t Want Somebody Who Would Strikeout or Homerun”
Kyle Harrington Interview 2021-08-25
Joey Myers 00:06
Hello and welcome to the Swing Smarter Monthly Newsletter AKA we're moving into Swing Smarter Hitting Training podcast. This is your host Joey Myers from hittingperformancelab.com.
Joey Myers 00:17
With me is take two, one of my dads, which we'll get into in a moment is Kyle Harrington. Kyle first let me welcome you back to the show.
Kyle Harrington 00:26
Yeah, nice to see you.
Joey Myers 00:28
The last time, some dummy forgot to push the record button. Yeah, that was me and for those that are listening and not watching, but I wanted to bring Kyle on I like to bring my dads on.
Joey Myers 00:42
Number one, his son Stephen I've worked with online training, he was one of my first hitters which he makes me feel old, because he is now going into his sophomore year college
Kyle Harrington 00:53
Joey Myers 00:55
Probably makes you feel old, too and he was a junior high when we first did that?
Kyle Harrington 01:01
It was before that actually; I think he was like 12 years old.
Joey Myers 01:04
Oh, geez, makes me feel older.
Joey Myers 01:08
I like to have my dads on. Number one because they're in the fire and there's a lot of dads out there listening and watching this that are working with their sons and their daughters on this whole thing.
Joey Myers 01:19
A lot of times you're left on your own, you're at your house, you're left to your own devices and for those out there that don't know Kyle, Kyle's got some golf background, so at least he had some golfing knowledge that he can go into with his son and many out there do not.
Joey Myers 01:35
I wanted to really dive in. I know, this was probably back, and you can correct me if I'm wrong with Stephen, I don't know, with Zenolink and Chris Welch. Was he in high school when you guys went over there?
Kyle Harrington 01:48
Chris Welch came to Clark, when Stephen was 12 and did a bunch of kids and got on there, got the data, and then he did it when he was a 14, 17, then this year, twice.
Joey Myers 02:06
Oh, so he did it again.
Kyle Harrington 02:08
Yeah, two or three times.
Joey Myers 02:09
Cool, and maybe it's around the 14-year-old year, I think we talked quite a bit about it. At that time, I was teaching the deep barrel in the zone and getting the barrel in the zone super early.
Joey Myers 02:22
One thing that you guys found, or Chris Welch found, you guys being there, was that Stephen was accelerating his barrel early, which is what we were teaching at the time, but by the time he got to contact, it was slowing down. Talk a little bit about that, build that picture of that story.
Stephen was accelerating his barrel early, which is what we were teaching at the time, but by the time he got to contact, it was slowing down. Talk a little bit about that...
Kyle Harrington 02:38
Ever since he was tested on a 3D type system, his barrels always decelerated between eight and 10 miles an hour before impact. From what I found out for Chris is that that's common, that a lot of hitters do that. They have that.
Kyle Harrington 02:56
It's not noticeable to the eye, but when it's done with a three-camera system or another system that can pick up that small amount of deceleration, it's really noticeable, you're actually slowing down into impact.
Kyle Harrington 03:15
Just to get your speed moves forward requires you to swing correctly, and to put the speed in the right spot of your swing. He's done that until just recently, he's kept his speed up till impact, literally, three weeks ago.
Joey Myers 03:36
Now, what are some of the things that you guys are doing to do that?
Kyle Harrington 03:39
Chris worked with him on the whole sequencing, the hips first, the torso, the arms, and then the bat, so that sequence, it was not perfect at all, and not even close. You would never know it because on tape, it would seem like it wasn't too bad, but on an optical system, he was showing very high arm speed, like ridiculously high arm speed with a bat speed that didn't translate to that arm speed.
Kyle Harrington 04:23
He had sort of things messed up, he was getting no bump from his hips to his torso, like very little bump, and because he was, among other things, rotating back too much. So sometimes that feeling of winding up, doesn't give you the right sequencing.
Kyle Harrington 04:40
Guys don't wind up a lot, but I guess we can get into that and see what you found on that over winding up.
Joey Myers 04:46
One thing that those out there know Javy Baez. I did a video analysis on him, probably back summer 2020 or something about a year ago. One thing, I hadn't really looked at his swing that close and when I slowed it down, I always thought before slowing it down that he was just really winding up like you're talking about, really winding up.
Joey Myers 05:05
When I slowed it down, what I saw was that same thing that's being taught, I think, by even progressive hitting instructors is to turn the hips in. I think most people got it from Ted Williams in The Science of Hitting was to basically take your belt buckle, hitters belt buckle and turn that in towards the catcher, and that's part of your loading phase.
Joey Myers 05:24
Now, the problem with that is and I taught that way early, until I started to investigate spinal engine stuff is now what we do is we keep the hitter's pelvis in a quote, unquote, neutral position.
Joey Myers 05:38
I tell my hitters to imagine there's a skewer going through both hip bones that is running parallel to the plate this way, and that they stay on that skewer all the way until close to stride landing, and then that front hip can start pulling off if it needs to open up.
Joey Myers 05:54
I think the problem with that over rotating, and the load that turned into the belt buckle in at the load phase. Getting to that stride landing position, what must happen if we're winding the spine up, like wringing the towel out, so we're pulling that front shoulder in and create neck pressure, we call neck pressure here, if the pelvis keeps pulling in towards the catcher, belt buckle towards catcher, then this front shoulder has to keep moving.
Joey Myers 06:21
When I looked at Javy Baez, I was seeing him really turn, they say when the pitcher shows you their back pocket, then the hitter shows the pitcher their back pocket.
When I looked at Javy Baez, I was seeing him really turn, they say when the pitcher shows you their back pocket, then the hitter shows the pitcher their back pocket. I think that’s flawed...
Joey Myers 06:33
I think that's flawed, because now what I have to do is my shoulders got to chase farther for righty, my left shoulder's got to chase farther in order to create the same torque, where instead keep the pelvis in the same neutral position, and then now pull that front shoulder in as far as you can to where you're keeping the head on a tracking position, because we're not letting the head pull off. That's number one, it's tracking right?
Joey Myers 06:54
The head must anchor how far the shoulder can go, but what that does by keeping the pelvis in line of a semi-permanent position until landing, and the head in a tracking position is now that shoulder is limited by how much it can create in the torque side of things. Is that something that you've noticed in the changes?
Kyle Harrington 07:12
Yes, it's the timing of the stretch. It's the more you want to turn backwards, when you go to stride, you're not going to get the same amount of stretch ...
Kyle Harrington 07:32
The feeling is powerful winding up backwards, but what it does is it creates a lot of hip velocity that doesn't sync up with shoulder that doesn't help you create a springboard from your hips to your shoulders.
Kyle Harrington 07:46
You're creating a velocity, but what happens is you go into a bracing. You start bracing with your stride to stop all this rotation in your body. It's not like your stride then works its way up and then you're sequentially gaining speeds.
Kyle Harrington 08:01
It's like you go into this bracing, where you're just trying to get balance, and stop all this movement. That doesn't help you necessarily like you're saying gain speed up the chain.
Kyle Harrington 08:13
Sometimes the feeling is better to feel like you're restrained almost and have no space. Like my son to prove it, what he did was, he would normally go on out on the baseball field, get a tee, put some balls on the tee and try to hit him over the fence, trying to and as far as he could hit them.
Kyle Harrington 08:32
He would put them to the pull side, and he would wind up big and turn really big and hit it and see where it went. Then he started putting the ball up front, not winding up, not turning back, and hitting the ball 20 to 25 feet further in the air.
Kyle Harrington 08:48
That totally convinced him, that feeling of room and space wasn't necessarily the best thing for him. He also said, it took a lot longer to hit the ball winding up. The more he wound up, the longer his swing was, but he didn't gain any power. He didn’t hit it as far. It blew his mind, I don't have to do as much, I get more stretch, and I hit the ball further.
Joey Myers 09:22
What dawned on me, this was probably three or four years ago, this is where my mind was blown. I was working with one of my hitters and I don't know if I told you this story, but it was a January, it was cold overcast here in California and cold here is not cold I know over there, the same cold, so cold to us though.
Joey Myers 09:39
We were working on his middle end approach, and this is a hitter who's been with me since he was seven or eight years old. Now, he was probably in junior high at the time or maybe going into his freshman year. He's going to be a senior this year in high school.
Joey Myers 09:49
We were working on middle end and he does really well with the catapult loading system, showing his numbers down shoulder and all that stuff, tension back here and he just couldn't pull the trigger on the pitch in, middle in, and he's like, coach, am I showing my numbers too much?
Joey Myers 10:05
At the time I was like, no I don't think so, Mikey, but let me go do some research and check it out. I went on Twitter, went on Craig Hyatt's page and he had a bunch of videos that were looping videos of major leaguers, hitting homers, January-February, this was the season prior videos.
Joey Myers 10:20
What I wanted to look at is I wanted to look at the hitters like the Miguel Cabrera's, the Mookie Betts, the Mike Trout, all these guys, what were they doing or not doing when they were seeing 96 in? Were they not showing their numbers as much? Were they showing them the same, nothing was changing?
Joey Myers 10:40
If that's the case, then what was happening, what was different on 96 in versus 88 away or 85 away. What I found was I'd look at both views, I look at the pitcher's view. You can see where the numbers are being shown and then I would look at the same swing from the chest view.
Joey Myers 10:55
What I found was that these hitters, Cabrera, Altuve, Betts, Trout, it wasn't that they were showing their numbers, it was when the barrel got into the zone. There was no change of how much they were torquing their thoracic spine, their t-spine, it was when the barrel got in the zone.
Joey Myers 11:17
More away, you saw the barrel, get in the zone deeper. But then your contact point was deeper, their contact point was deeper. The barrel path, some out there will say we'll get the barrel in the zone super early and then keep it on the plane as long as possible.
Joey Myers 11:32
That's not what the best do, the best do not jump the barrel in the zone early in the zone like they're putting the barrel in front of the catcher's glove and then coming all the way to 96 mile an hour fastball on the inner third of the plate and barreling it. That's not what they're doing.
Joey Myers 11:46
What I found was, what they were doing is that barrel, they were keeping it up, up, up up as they were turning, up, up, up, up, and then they would come.
Joey Myers 11:54
Imagine a catcher's glove in line with the hitter's belly button and they were knocking that catcher's glove off. Their barrel was entering the zone a lot later than early later and then they were making contact more out in front, obviously, for an inside pitch.
Joey Myers 12:08
The twisting of it, the upper half twisting of it, we call neck pressure down shoulder, all that stuff, kind of a loading stuff. It wasn't so much that I found was the issue of getting to the inside pitch, it was when the barrel enters the zone.
It’s not how much hitter loads their upper torso that’s the issue with getting to inside pitch, it has to do with the barrel path...
Kyle Harrington 12:23
Right. That's interesting. I've been really thinking a lot about how the bat gets on a plane. I had a good conversation with Chris the other day. He's like, Kyle, no matter what you do, you cannot make yourself slot by physically trying to slot better, like some guy slot real early.
Kyle Harrington 12:56
The bats really laid back and then other hitters are tighter. They can't slot as well, guys that are not as flexible. But you're right, they do, the guys that inside the pitch, they're not slotting as early.
Kyle Harrington 13:14
I think when they recognize it's outside, they can get it slotted earlier, and then go the other way with it. The interesting thing he was talking about was that you can't force the bat to lay back, and you hear like some of the best off guys too, be like, I used to think you get kind of try to get into positions. But the best players, their rotation takes care of the slotting.
Kyle Harrington 13:38
The lag is created, it's like a pitcher, can a pitcher make his arm lag more, but he can't, but if you give him extra rotation he can. So same thing, like the lag setup by that rotation that you cannot, you must just let it go to where it wants to go.
Kyle Harrington 13:59
I agree with you on that, that the guys are on the inside pitch. They know how to bring that point of contact out front on an inside pitch because they must hit it out there.
Joey Myers 14:13
Think about Bonds, right? People don't give him a lot of credit because of the whole PED scandal thing. I think I would give him more credit on his knowledge of hitting than I would have five years ago, for sure. I think he knows more, and we should be giving him credit for more than what people do, because they just write him off, he was a juicer, he was an HGH guy or whatever.
Joey Myers 14:39
Just remember, it was San Francisco, in his heyday, we had the big old giant arm guard on, and those balls are coming in at 97-98 up and in on his hands, and he was staying inside that ball.
Joey Myers 14:52
I have a different definition than most say is staying inside that ball, especially when it comes to this barrel path that we're talking about. But he used to keep that ball fair and hit it in the bay.
Joey Myers 15:02
Normal hitters would rotate to that ball, we say swing, we want to swing across our chest, not around our chest, he would swing across his chest. But what he was good at is he was really good at manipulating the barrel.
Joey Myers 15:16
I think part of it was that he choked up to help him do this. It was almost like he was this feel of swinging down, like those that are watching this, he had this feel of this, that's not exactly what he did in real speed.
Joey Myers 15:31
It was this way, but his barrel stayed this way, and you'll look at videos, and it just stays flat to the ball that's up in the zone or inside in the zone. He was one of the best.
It was this way [swing down], but his barrel [Bonds] stayed this way [flat], and you'll look at videos, and it just stays flat to the ball that's up in the zone or inside in the zone. He was one of the best...
Kyle Harrington 15:42
The best, he conquered. He took away the pitchers, one of the pitcher's best pitches. The way he set up and the way he said, you’re not going to beat me up in the zone. You're not going to beat him.
Kyle Harrington 15:56
Guys thought they could beat him up. You gave him 10 at bats, he's going to get you six times. You cannot do that to him, and he knew that. He took away that part of the game for most pitchers.
Kyle Harrington 16:10
Now he says, what else do you got? So now you're going to come in, what are you going to come at me with that 75-mile curveball and if it comes inside, I'm going to destroy it, so don't do that.
Kyle Harrington 16:21
He eliminated by having the swing that he had by choking up, by not having necessarily long limbs and long body parts and getting kind of low. He made this strike zone where can you throw it?
Kyle Harrington 16:35
I think that was the genius of Bonds and he does know a lot more about hitting than people know, they think it's like a more natural, the guy's a smart guy and his A-Rod interview was incredible.
Joey Myers 16:46
Yes, the one where he loses Bonds for a little bit on the phone and he's talking to him. The gold, the gold nugget, the biggest one I think in that interview. I think I have that somewhere on my hitting performance lab. Just go on hitting performance lab, go search and just put Barry Bonds Alex Rodriguez, I think that should come up.
Joey Myers 17:06
One of the pieces of gold in that interview is Bonds was talking with his dad, Bobby. I don't know if this was in college or high school or just when he was younger, but his dad told him, you need to perfect your down swing.
Joey Myers 17:22
This will ruffle a lot of feathers out there nowadays, not quite as many as five years ago, because I think people are starting to get the idea. But Bobby told him, I want you to perfect your down swing. He said it's easy to swing up, but he said when things are going bad, swinging up is the lazy person's way of getting in a slump.
Joey Myers 17:41
He said if you want to get out of the slump, you've got to perfect your down swing, which is what we saw in that up and in, to hit those up and in pitches.
Kyle Harrington 17:48
Absolutely and when you're late, where are 99% of guys when they're late, they're under, so he made sure he was never under when he was late. He didn't get his hands move vertically. Like he didn't have this move coming down at the ball. He had, like you said, this moves constantly.
Kyle Harrington 18:06
His hands were always high, and he always said in interviews, or a lot of times in interviews, keep your hands up. Keep your hands up. That's from a guy that looked like he had low hands.
Kyle Harrington 18:19
Keep them up because he knew the value of adjust, of not missing pitches. There's too many followed by back balls guys go, I just missed it. It's probably your swing, you missed it. You should have got jammed and hit it over the first baseman's head, but you fouled it back.
Joey Myers 18:41
I agree. You have that other camp out there that talks about that early supination, you'll get that barrel in the zone super early and then it's funny because when we talked about this high pitch, they said, oh, we train hit the high pitch, we train that, we have a high t-drill that we do.
Joey Myers 18:57
But if you watch the swing, you have a tee, a ball in one spot and then you got this early supination happening snapping again, that early snap and early supination is good middle away, middle down, not saying it's not good.
Joey Myers 19:10
But I'm telling you, it's not good middle end and middle up because a hitter has to make a compensation and most of the time for a lefty, you'd have to bend this front arm like a chicken wing in order to get there, which is going to lower your ball exit speeds because we're shortening the lever, and the longer the lever, the more the force gets multiplied at the end of it.
Joey Myers 19:26
There's a compensation that must happen to jump that barrel in the zone early and get to that inside pitch. But on the high tee, when they snap early, that barrels got to drop, it's got to drop, it doesn't stay up because that's the whole point of the snap and supination.
Joey Myers 19:41
What happens is yeah, off a tee, I can hit that pitch up. But if you look at the angle of that barrel, it's like a Nike swoosh sign if you can picture it out there for those that aren't watching me, but it's like a Nike swoosh sign but where the swoosh, where it turns from the upper part down into the lower swoosh part is low below the ball and then it comes up and hits the ball.
Joey Myers 20:02
Well, there's a problem there if we want lower strikeouts, and we want a higher batting average, which some can argue isn't as important in today's game, but I still think it is.
There's a problem there if we want lower strikeouts, and we want a higher batting average, which some can argue isn't as important in today's game, but I still think it is...
Joey Myers 20:14
What we're talking about with Bonds is that he stays flatter to that ball and so there's more margin for error.
Kyle Harrington 20:19
Right and when you really think about the greatest hitters, like the guys that hit for power and hit for average, where did they finish their swings? A lot of them finished low, because they were up, and they still swung up enough at impact on but I'm just saying that their hands were up high, higher, and then their finishes were a little bit lower than what you'd expect.
Kyle Harrington 20:47
How did Mike Schmidt hit a baseball? Think about where he finished. Look at all the homeruns, look at all the power. Mike Trout, low finisher.
Joey Myers 21:01
Ted Williams, Ken Griffey Jr?
Kyle Harrington 21:03
Well Ken Griffey is a little higher but yes.
Joey Myers 21:05
But he had that down part.
Kyle Harrington 21:08
Yes, he let go of the bat. I'm thinking of another low, Mike Piazza. Even though he held on to the bat, if you watch him hit high pitches, he doesn't finish high. He's not coming up, constantly coming up at the ball.
Joey Myers 21:23
DiMaggio, Babe Ruth, you go back-back.
Kyle Harrington 21:26
Yes, a lot of guys finished lower who were power and average.
Joey Myers 21:33
Interesting. A lot of the high finishing like the Fred McGriff and who's the other one? Shawn Kemp, am I mixing basketball? I've been out of sports this last year.
Kyle Harrington 21:50
Joey Myers 21:50
Yes, I was thinking basketballs. Matt Kemp. I did a video where I was comparing him to Ted Williams and we're just looking at the shoulder movement, in the beginning, where we talked about that front shoulder starts down and then as they go into their turn, it pops back up, and then at the end of the turn, that same front shoulder is down now at the end, so that up-down-up type of thing.
Joey Myers 22:13
Kemp was down with the front shoulder, and then he would stay up, and he would finish up here with that back shoulder whenever finished down like it was supposed to, but he was another one that was high finish. It makes it hard to be able to get up on balls now where guys are elevating, they're throwing balls 95 plus 100 miles an hour? How in the heck can you get to that pitch?
Kyle Harrington 22:36
Right. That's why I think that players should really consider, it's easy to hit off BP and off 60 mile an hour pitching, it's one thing to perform. But in game speeds, what the other advantage of during game speeds of having a swing that doesn't move up so much out front in your swing, is that think about the curveball, you're fooled, your butt goes out.
Kyle Harrington 23:03
Everybody rolls over curveballs, but some people roll over curveballs a lot less, and those guys are usually guys to finish lower. The more your bats moving vertically through the zone out in front, occasionally, you're going to catch us a pitch way out there and hit it up far, because you have such a launch angle on it.
Kyle Harrington 23:24
Being reliable hitter for your team, you must do other things. You must deal with to not roll over ball sometimes.
Joey Myers 23:35
Right and think about the big leagues and we can in on this, and we'll see where people can find you.
If you think about the 95-mile fastball or 90-95 is traveling down at about five degrees. If you have a 15-degree attack angle, those don't match up, those don't parallel, so you only got one shot, so that time you better be perfect...
Joey Myers 23:42
If you think about the 95-mile fastball or 90-95 is traveling down at about five degrees. If you have a 15-degree attack angle, those don't match up, those don't parallel, so you only got one shot, so that time you better be perfect.
Joey Myers 23:59
I think Perry said this, if you're located in that same 90-95 plus up in the zone instead of five degrees down its three, now the same 15 degree doesn't play, again if you want to bring the strikeouts down and you want to keep the batting average up.
Kyle Harrington 24:15
There's no margin for error that way, I think Barry Bonds did it in a way where he swung the bat hard enough to hit homeruns when he didn't hit them perfect. I think that should be the goal, swing about hard enough that you don't have to hit it with a perfect launch angle right, so you can hit a homerun, be able to have a little bit flatter swing without bad speed to hit homeruns all over the place.
Joey Myers 24:41
Fat on fat, right? Fatter the barrel, fatter the ball.
Kyle Harrington 24:45
Yes, and very reliable hitter. I think being reliable is underrated. People want a player on your team that's reliable. They don't want somebody who would strikeout or homerun.
Joey Myers 24:56
Those high school coaches, I tell you what, that is their mantra. They hate, not all of them, but many of them for my hitters. And again, we don't teach a launch angle swing in the sense that these coaches hate, but because the launch angle is just a metric, it's just a number.
Joey Myers 25:13
We base ours, our main 20% on the 10-to-15-degree launch. So that ball that we call hitting back through the tube, so the pitcher throws a ball through the tube, to the catcher, that they're hitting that ball right back through that tube, whatever height it is.
Joey Myers 25:26
That's the tube, that's our main thing. If we miss a little below the ball or a little bit above, we'll get that hard one hopper through the infield, or we'll get that dinger and double, we'll turn that 10-15 degree into a 20 to 25, but our goal is not to do that.
Kyle Harrington 25:40
You don't optimize your swing for distance, you optimize for the most power you can have, most doubles, most home runs
Joey Myers 25:47
Kyle Harrington 25:47
Not the furthest home run you can hit.
Joey Myers 25:51
Kyle Harrington 25:51
Home Run Derby ball.
Joey Myers 25:53
Which has its place, and we do that, it has its place but not for game swings, competing swings.
Joey Myers 26:01
Alright, Kyle, hey, I want to be respectful of your time. I know this is probably towards the end of your day here. Where can people find you to get more information? I totally encourage people to go check you out.
Where can people find you to get more information?
Kyle Harrington 26:12
I'm on Twitter a little bit. I'm not on as much as possible, but I would say go to your site, I would say your sites get off more information, I like talking about baseball and having talked to you guys that are really knowledgeable like Welch and yourself and Stephen's head coach Jim Sheppard, he's awesome.
Kyle Harrington 26:30
You need a bunch. You need guys with different ideas that are willing to discuss things and figure things out.
Joey Myers 26:39
You need a village, we say critical thinking and you're critical thinking dad, and if it's one piece of advice I want for parents listening out there that you can learn from Kyle is to be a critical thinking dad.
Joey Myers 26:51
I'm fine with my players asking me questions. I'm fine with parents even bowing up and saying why they don't think this works. You better bring better data and case studies and things like that if you're going to do that because we're going to go into a dialogue and that kind of thing, but I welcome that, I want people to bring that kind of stuff in but Kyle's great.
Joey Myers 27:10
One of my dads again, critical thinking, and thank you again for your time brother. I know you're a hard-working dude. What we'll do, take three, take four sometime in the future, but thanks for your time there, Kyle.
Kyle Harrington 27:23
You got it, can't wait.
Joey Myers 27:24
Kyle Harrington 27:25
Joey Myers 27:26