ABCA Clinic Recaps - Rocke Musgraves


Liam Carroll

Hitting Drill Revival: Saving Swings
Rocke Musgraves – Head Coach, Louisiana State University – Shreveport

Coach Musgraves was incredibly passionate about hitting technique, how to coach it and how to coach approach.  It was awesome to hear how, despite being very experienced, he invested time into evaluating what he had been coaching for years by taking a closer look at the swings of MLB hitters.  He realised that some of what he had been coaching wasn’t in fact what the best hitters in baseball were doing and he was humble enough to change things.

Under the sub-heading “Attack or Be Attacked” Coach Musgraves’ presentation covered three main areas:


1. Create an approach and swing that leads to more runs.  Create habits of being selective to increase on-base percentage and more extra-base hits.
2. Create drills that do the “talking” and create a “feel.”
3. Timing takes time.  Less tees and front toss and more live work.
4. Create a one-piece/rhythmic swing, not “piecey.”
5. Create a swing that still hits when you are not perfectly on time.
6. Create a swing that does not spend time over the back foot.
7. Create a movement or stance that gets us as close to the plane of the baseball as possible.
8. Triangle Theory.

Drills for Swing Movements

1. Decline Drill.
2. Stride Out Drill.
3. Karate Kid Drill.
4. Vlade Drill.
5. Sprinter Drill.

Drills for Approach

1. Two-Thirds
      a. Middle
      b. Away
      c. Short Toss Drill
      d. Live
      e. Cage Wars
2. 2 Strikes
      a. Sprinter Drill

Using video of his players and by demonstrating himself, Coach Musgraves emphasised how important he thinks it is to have an aggressive linear movement before rotation.  He preached width between the feet as a way to get the bat closer to the plane of the pitch, looking for his players’ feet to be spread at approximately 65% of their height.  This helps with Goal #5.  He has analysed a ton of video and “Triangle Theory” means that when the stride foot lands, an Isosceles Triangle can be drawn on the hitter (the two equal lines being from each foot to the top of the head).  I think this is a great, simple tool to incorporate if you’re using video analysis and is a measure of how well a hitter is using his or her body to generate energy.

One of the drills I particularly liked was the Stride Out Drill: Coach Musgraves has his players set up with narrow feet and low hands, close to their centre of gravity.  They must then exaggerate the load/stride movement, which forces the linear move that he’s looking for and encourages the hands to “separate” or move back while the centre of gravity moves forward.  It also lets players know, or feel, when the linear movement should end and rotation should begin.  I’m a big fan of drills that have a process designed for a specific result – sometimes it’s a great thing for a coach to keep his mouth closed and let the player feel and think his or her way through the process.

An interesting two-strike physical adjustment Coach Musgraves teaches his players is for them to set up with their centre of gravity closer to their front side.  This eliminates some movement and makes for a more efficient swing while retaining linear and rotational movements.

For an indication of the success his hitters are having, last year Coach Musgraves led the Pilots to a 54-6 record and a 3rd Place finish at the NAIA World Series.  The Pilots team batting average was .344.

My Most Important Thing

Some good hitters have swings that look great (Ken Griffey Jr.) and others that look bad or downright funky (Hunter Pence).  But they all share some technical absolutes.  The same is true of approach: some components of an approach are similar, others are different but all great hitters have one.  Coaches must determine an overall hitting approach for the team and then help each player hone an approach that’s going to help them perform individually and function within the offense as a whole.  Practicing hitting shouldn’t only be about the technique.

Last Up: Kevin Barr

On Deck: Matt Talarico


tagged under: baseball, coaching, softball, hitting

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About Liam Carroll

Liam Carroll

Liam was a Regional Coach and then Development Coordinator for BaseballSoftballUK until May 2014. He returned to his hometown of London to work for BSUK in 2010 after stops in Somerset, Bristol, Cornwall, California and Nevada. Growing up playing in Britain, Liam made the move to America to study and play university baseball. After figuring out that his future would be brighter as a coach rather than player, he moved to the University of Nevada Las Vegas to finish his degree and coach college baseball. Since then he’s coached youth and adult teams on both sides of the atlantic and with the Great Britain Baseball National Teams.

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