Private Baseball Lessons in St. Louis - Rick Strickland Baseball

James Creighton Jr. was a Civil War-era pitcher whose dominance changed baseball from a game emphasizing fielding, to one showcasing the contest between pitcher and hitter. And ever since then, the latter have been getting the short end of the stick.

After all, one of the most famous years for a hitter was Ted Williams’ 1941 season. It marks the last time a player finished a season with a batting average above .400, and is a constant reminder that success a mere 40% of the time is a fantastic achievement for a hitter.

Most hitters, however, finish their careers with success rates south of 30%, which leaves quite a bit of room for improvement. And since we all know practice makes perfect -- or at least helps people improve themselves at most activities -- hitters are constantly looking for ways to get better and raise those batting averages.

Deep Practice
Fast forward from James Creighton’s day to today, and pitchers are still hitters’ arch nemeses, humbling them -- at times even embarrassing them -- with their sinkers, sliders, screwballs, and the rare but deceiving knuckleball.

But to even get to a point of succeeding three times out of ten, professional baseball players have had to spend thousands of hours honing their craft, practicing not for perfection, but for slight improvements and the chance to fulfill their Major League dreams.

One well-known mode of practice that has gained some traction in the game of baseball recently is called “deep practice.” This is a style of training that stresses viewing a task holistically; emphasizes learning it progressively, piece-by-piece; and recommends slowing down and speeding up repetitions to become more attuned to weaknesses.

It’s a process that’s highly focused on error recognition and correction, which is good, because plenty of things can go wrong for novice hitters.

On-Demand Video
Given today’s world of modern technology, deep practice for hitting a baseball is easier than ever. Especially when it comes to observing experts perform, which is one of the best ways to “view the task holistically,” as it were.

In our 24/7 Sportscenter culture, with all its attendant highlights, clips, (former) Vines, and Vimeos -- to say nothing of well-produced YouTube tutorials -- professional ABs are available for daily, practically instantaneous, HD….on devices that fit in your pocket. Which can be connected to LCD TV monitors, mounted on a wall in your batting cage, and controlled with the swipe of a finger for repeated views and the ability to slow down and speed up playback as necessary.

Data Analytics
Video allows you to closely observe and emulate your favorite pro hitter’s swing, but it’s often a solitary endeavor that doesn’t provide much in the way of reliable feedback. And since detecting mistakes is a critical component of progressing as a hitter, there are other hi-tech deep practice methods to consider.

HitTrax is an instructional tool that combines the batting cage with sophisticated software that measures hitters’ swings, analyzes the data, and delivers feedback in real-time. It displays the likely outcome of your batted ball on a screen featuring a “virtual ballpark” so you can experience realistic outcomes of the contact you’re making.

Knowing where a batted ball would have gone in a real-game situation -- as well as knowing the exit velocity, distance hit, launch angle, and strike zone analysis -- helps hitters identify tendencies and allows for the sort of bit-by-bit error correction that’s central to deep practice.

Biomechanical Recognition
And speaking of “virtual,” can BP get any more hi-tech than the interactive baseball simulator known as iCube? It’s a virtual batting cage that allows hitters to practice their swings in a real-game situation, but without having to swing at actual pitches.

Thanks to a pair of lightweight motion-tracking “virtual reality” glasses and even more sophisticated software -- endorsed by former American League MVP, Jason Giambi -- players can get as many reps as they want, against any kind of pitch they need to improve on, with less wear-and-tear on their bodies, indoors at anytime.

The focus is on allowing amateurs -- and professionals, too, as the Tampa Bay Rays are reportedly using the technology -- to experience a pitcher’s positioning and movements before, during, and after their delivery. This helps with recognizing what pitch may be on the way, and with becoming more aware of the strike zone.

Technology Use in BP
For hitters, building and maintaining their skills requires serious commitment. Thankfully, numerous hi-tech tools are making the time investment easier to manage, and Rick Strickland Baseball has the technology, the analytics, and the trainers to make those commitments worthwhile.

So for young baseball players looking to improve their productivity at the plate -- and to do their part to fight back against the James Creightons of the world -- they can train like a pro with Rick Strickland.

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