by JP Fasone – Hitting Intern
In a previous blog post, we looked into how the descent angle of front toss can affect the feedback athletes get, especially when hitting plyos. If your brain started racing with ideas of how modifying descent angle could address bat path flaws, then I like the way you think.
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If you took the time to read part 1, you know that descent angle describes the vertical angle of the incoming pitch (or flip) and can affect the feedback the athlete receives. The ball flight feedback can tell you a lot about the athlete’s attack angle.
Hitters with higher attack angles will typically hit a lot of top spun ground balls on mishits and super high fly balls when the ball is squared up. On the flip side, athletes with lower attack angles will typically hit high, soft fly balls with a ton of backspin and a lot of hard ground balls.
None of those ball flights are particularly productive, and those athletes should be flagged for attack angle issues.
Low Attack Angle
Athletes who struggle with low attack angles will typically create batted balls with a lot of backspin, especially if hit at positive launch angles. Let’s use ping pong as an example.
Low Attack Angle = Clipping the Ball and Loss of EV
We can see that in both cases, as the bat or paddle works down to contact (negative AA), it catches the bottom of the ball, creating the backspin. This is why we will often cue guys to try and hit balls with topspin to promote a positive attack angle.
We can also change the training environment to promote a positive attack angle by adjusting our front toss descent angle. By tossing the ball slower with more of an arch, we can create a steeper descent angle, which requires the athlete to increase their attack angle to make flush contact. This idea can be taken to the extreme with the softball toss drill.
Softball Toss with Plyos
The athlete intends to match their attack angle with the descent angle of the toss to create flush contact with the plyo. The flipper’s goal is to throw the ball high, trying to get it to land on the back of the plate, creating an extremely vertical descent angle.
As always, making a specific external target, like the top of the cage, allows the athlete to self-organize to achieve that goal.
High Attack Angle
Athletes who struggle with high attack angles will demonstrate opposite ball flight characteristics. Typically they will hit balls with a lot of topspin, especially at lower launch angles.
High Attack Angle = Topping the Ball and Ground Balls.
For hitters like this, flips must be tossed with as little descent angle as possible. Flipping with a little more velo and lowering the release point can help achieve this goal. Once again, we can take this to the extreme with velo at the top of the zone.
Velocity at the Top of the Zone with Plyos
The flipper’s goal is to throw the ball at the top of the zone, trying to toss it so that it continuously moves upward. To square up the ball, the athlete will have to lower their attack angle, trying to match the angle of the incoming pitch.
Cueing hitters to hit balls with a lot of backspin will promote a lower attack angle. We can also change the external target to a point lower than usual, like the head of the person flipping.
We have discussed at length how environmental constraints can change the athlete’s intent and drive adaptations. Intention drives actions, and environments can shape intent. Make sure you’re taking everything into account when you set up the cage.
Design the environment with detail and precision and let the athlete create new movement solutions. This is the beauty of the intent-action model. Something as simple as changing the descent angle of your front toss can address major swing flaws.
Get in Touch
Low attack angle giving you problems? In-gym and remote options are both available.
By Driveline Baseball
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