What Albert Pujols Taught Me About Swing Mechanics
Written on September 7, 2015 at 9:27 pm, by Eric Cressey
Today, I've got a guest post from Bobby Tewksbary. Bobby has quickly established himself as one of the premier hitting instructors to professional and amateur hitters alike over the past few years. You might also recognize him as the guy who threw to Josh Donaldson at this year's Home Run Derby. I enjoy Bobby's stuff, and I'm sure you will, too! Be sure to check out his Elite Swing Mechanics E-Book, if you haven't already; it's fantastic stuff.
A lot of folks heard my name for the first time after this year’s Home Run Derby, where I pitched to Josh Donaldson. However, I never would have had that opportunity if I hadn't seen this swing of Albert Pujols in 2009. That was when I first saw Pujols doing something with his swing mechanics that most people don’t realize.
Even if you have studied the swing, you might be shocked or surprised at what you can see Pujols doing. It defies so much of what passes as "common wisdom" among hitters.
Over the last 6+ years, I’ve studied tens of thousands of hours of hitting video to better understand the swing and what makes Pujols’ (and all the other all-time greats) so special. I’m excited to share some of the most important things I’ve learned so you can improve your timing, power and batting average!
Albert Pujols’ Swing Mechanics
What exactly are we talking about? We are talking about swing mechanics and the movement Pujols uses to create consistent timing while being able to hit for power and for average.
When Pujols’ rear knee and hips are turning forward, his hands aren't going down… they are going up and back. Watch this clip a few times - study the hands, the hips opening, the rear knee.
This is very different than what I thought was right and it is very different than what most hitters are taught! Conventional instructions call for things like “take your hands/knob to the ball”, “stay inside the ball”, “stay on top of the ball.” In the big picture, these aren’t completely bad things but they are very incomplete.
I still remember how I felt when studying the swing the first time: How I swung the bat was very different than how Pujols and other great hitters swing. If Pujols was doing something different then me, then I was definitely the one doing it wrong!
A Deeper Look at Albert Pujols’ Swing Mechanics
The really special part of Albert Pujols swing is revealed in his barrel path. This is the secret behind his elite mechanics and what creates his good timing and his ability to hit for power and average.
Before, we saw how Pujols’ hands were working up and back while the hips were opening. Now we can see how his barrel is moving! When his hips are opening, his barrel is not moving toward the ball; rather, it is working deeper and flatter.
This is where Pujols is creating his timing for his swing. Instead of the barrel working TOWARD the ball, he is creating time by getting his barrel into the zone deeper. And because his barrel is working back and not forward, he is able to stop his swing if the pitch is not a strike. This gives him very adjustable timing.
Another key component to this movement is how short and quick his swing becomes. The lower body has already opened/cleared and the barrel already has speed. The swing's finish is very short, quick and explosive.
Look at how fast this is - and how hard it is to see this movement in "real time!"
Hitting for Power and Average
We know Pujols’ barrel moves deeper to start the swing, but how does this help him hit for both power and average?
The barrel is working onto the plane of the pitch earlier so the barrel stays in the zone for a very long time. This gives a very “long” zone in which he can hit the ball hard. Plus, when his barrel is going back, his lower body opening. This is creating an ideal swing sequence where the lower body’s turn happens first which transfers energy “up the chain” and all the way to the barrel.
In addition, the barrel is “inside” the ball later and works through the zone with great swing direction. The barrel gets behind and through the ball without having to guide or steer the bat. If you play golf, think of this as getting a good swing path and driving through the ball and not cutting or hooking!
Here is one more look:
The swing is built to hit the ball with power to all fields!
Teaching These Swing Mechanics to Other Hitters
Most hitters are taught a swing to either “push” the bat to the ball (linear hitting) or to pull/rotate the bat to the ball (rotational hitting.) Both of these swing styles create issues for hitters with their timing. Push/linear hitters tend to make more contact but lack power. Pull/rotational hitters will have more power but hit for lower average.
I call the pattern Albert Pujols uses "Elite Swing Mechanics." I use the word “Elite” because it is the swing the all-time great hitters use and continue to use. I’ve worked with Josh Donaldson, Chris Colabello (Toronto Blue Jays) and Cressey Sports Performance Client A.J. Pollock (Arizona Diamondbacks) - and hundreds of youth, high school and college players others on developing these Elite Swing Mechanics.
The first and most critical step is to developing better swing mechanics is to understand swing mechanics. The more you understand the swing, the more deliberate you can be about how you work. And when you improve your swing, you increase your abilities and performance as a hitter!
One thing that I really try to communicate to people is that I’ve never tried to invent anything with the swing. I’ve studied tens of thousands of hours of video to try to understand what the best hitters in the history of the game have done. The game tells showns us what works and the all-time great hitters all use the same swing mechanics. Whether I'm working with a pro guy or a younger hitter, the goal is the same: I try to help hitters understand the swing. If a hitter doesn’t understand the swing, then they are taking a huge risk with this very important skill. When a hitter understands how their swing works, it causes a few really good things to happen.
1. Increased Accountability - The hitter will take ownership of their swings in their training and games.
2. Learn from Failure Faster - Hitters will diagnose their failure faster and be able to make adjustments faster.
3. Trust in the Process - Hitters will trust their long-term plan. Go to work each day knowing you are building in the right direction.
The single most common comment I hear from professional hitters is, “Why didn’t anybody tell me this sooner?” Technology has made is possible to gather video and study hitters in ways that haven’t been possible before. The game is advancing and pitchers are currently WAY ahead of hitters. The first step toward building this knowledge is my Elite Swing Mechanics E-Book + Instructional Videos.
About my Elite Swing Mechanics Book + Instructional Videos
I wrote my book to help share what I’ve learned about the swing. This book isn’t a traditional book though. I’ve tried to create a product that takes advantage of technology to help reach hitters with all learning styles. This is what makes up my book:
*120+ page Elite Swing Mechanics PDF eBook
*Video instruction of keys points and drills with over 2 hours of total video instruction
*Audio version of book so you can listen to the book on your iPod/iTunes
*14-day follow up email program walking you through the information with videos and articles
*Bonus Articles & Exclusive Offers
*Money Back Guarantee - If you don't learn from this product, I'll give you a full refund.
Don't Take My Word For It
"I was introduced to Tewks' stuff two years ago and what he teaches has helped me progress as a hitter. I look at the swing with a completely different perspective now. I wish I knew the TRUTH in high school!" - A.J. Pollock
"Want to understand your swing? Bobby was one of the first guys who helped me understand the true mechanics! I 100% believe in his philosophy and I know it’s the TRUTH!” - Josh Donaldson
“The information was a game changer. What Bobby showed me taught me to do things I couldn’t do before. I learned how to swing better and it enhanced everything about me as a hitter.” - Chris Colabello
NOTE: The lifetime updates is a big reason why this is a digital product. I constantly perform research and learn more ways to communicate the movements of the swing. When I find new details or new wording that helps hitters, a digital product allows me to issue an update in ways that a printed book or physical DVD cannot. This is all about helping hitters, so this digital product format allows me to do that best.