Baseball Swing Parasites and How to Debug Your Game - Parts 1, 2, & 3

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Baseball Swing Parasites and How to Debug Your Game - Part 1


by Nate Barnett

Baseball swing parasites are those unseen and sometimes unknown things that affect your performance at the plate in a negative fashion. Without taking care of the parasites, your baseball swing will begin to decay, wither, and become quite vulnerable to good pitchers. This is true especially as you get older and the pitching gets progressively better. I will be writing a few articles on three very common parasites that can damage your baseball swing. The reason for splitting the articles up is simply length and retention. So stay tuned for a couple more after this one.

Parasite #1 - Failure To Understand Your Machine

Your machine in this sense is your body. I find that most athletes tend to receive baseball instruction to the extent that it will correct problems identified by the instructor. However, this is where things break down. Few players take that next step and learn how mechanical problems are caused, and then what to change to solve the problem on their own. Without this root understanding, a player is continually frustrated by new and/or continuing problems that affect his swing since he lacks the complete knowledge of how his machine works.

There are multiple reasons for this lack of awareness of how the body works during a fundamentally correct baseball swing. Most have to do with a deficiency in vision for what benefit complete understanding would give the player. Below I've outlined a few good reasons why you invest some time and effort into creating a smooth swing at the plate.

1. Find a way to up the stakes. Think of the need to learn all parts of your swing as if you were getting paid to do it. The more you read, watched, and learned about the swing process, the more money you would get paid. Hey, a Major League Baseball paycheck is nothing to scoff at, it's some good coinage. Start the long-term thinking process now.

2. If you don't learn how your machine works, you are allowing the potential for poor coaching and advice to creep into your game. When you receive live baseball instruction, watch a video, or read a book on the skill you're learning, how do you know it's good advice if you don't understand proper swing mechanics. It's safe to broaden your understanding.

3. Understanding your mechanics will bring confidence to your game which will translate into positive self-esteem on the field. Baseball players who fail to understand these mechanics are typically emotionally inconsistent players who are excited when things are going well, but very frustrated when things aren't. Their game becomes a roller coaster of consistency and emotions.

Look for the follow up article, as I'll discuss the second of three hitting parasites, Letting The Upper Half Of The Body Begin The Swing.

Nate Barnett is owner of BMI Baseball and is based out of Washington State. Check out his new ebook Hitting Mechanics 101, on complete hitting mechanics. Features include numerous illustrations, video clips, and a special offer to discuss your hitting questions over live on the phone strategy sessions.

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Baseball Swing Parasites and How to Debug Your Game - Part 2


by Nate Barnett

If you haven't checked the first article in this three-part series, do a quick search for it. It's the same title, except Part 1.

When working on youth baseball drills that focus on the baseball swing, it's important to understand the various common "parasites" that many baseball players are susceptible to. The second focal problem I'll examine in this article is the issue of hitters beginning their baseball swing with their upper body.

Parasite #2 - Upper Body That Initiates Energy

The first parasite we mentioned was many players' lack of understanding of how the body works while hitting a baseball. Here, we will take a look at how energy is created within a fundamentally sound approach. While this parasite is a bit difficult to explain within text, stay with it, and run through the information a couple of times to grasp the concepts.

In many sporting activities, the lower body of the athlete is responsible for creating the energy used in a quick and powerful movement. If you will study any video on hitting a baseball, pitching, javelin throwing, shot put, martial arts, ice skating, or golf, you will notice that they all have one common core movement. The lower body is used for creating energy or torque. And torque is necessary for a hitter if he is going to generate any kind of bat speed.

When swinging, torque comes from the lower body. As the body rotates, the process begins with the hitter's back knee and hip. If the front side of the hitter remains stable (and doesn't open for a split second) the hitter will begin to create a whip like swing that will generate bat speed. The hitting parasite I want to point out occurs when hitters do not create any torque within their swing.

If the hitter begins the hitting motion with his hands first instead of his lower half of his body, a variety of problems will occur.

1. Slow bat speed will occur because of low torque.

2. A long swing will occur since there is a high likelihood that the hands will separate from the body.

3. Minimal power will be generated thus causing many weak pop-ups and ground balls.

There are many resources that are designed to solve this problem, and this is not the topic of this article. Instead, here are a few symptoms for you to look for while trying to identify this specific hitting parasite.

1. Off balance and falling away from the pitch.

2. Back foot not being rotated upon contact.

3. Back leg strait and body forward at end of swing.

4. Hips slide forward before contact (video camera will reveal this)

5. Shallow pop-ups to the opposite field.

6. Getting continually jammed on inside pitches and missing or fouling off outside pitches.

In the third article in this series, we'll look at the final hitting parasite, self-doubt.

For more information on solving hitting mechanical problems, check out Hitting Mechanics 101, an ebook on complete hitting mechanics (located on main website). Features include numerous illustrations, video clips, and a special offer to discuss your hitting questions over live on the phone strategy sessions

Nate Barnett is owner of BMI Baseball and is based out of Washington State. His expertise is in the area of hitting, pitching, and mental training. After finishing a professional career in the Seattle Mariners Organization, Nate pursued his coaching and motivational training career. His instructional blog is located at

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Baseball Swing Parasites and How to Debug Your Game - Part 3 - Self-Doubt


by Nate Barnett

This is the third article in this three-part series on hitting parasites. Do a quick search for the previous articles to round out the readings.

The first two articles dealt with parasites of the physical part of hitting a baseball. This final article discusses the mental baseball parasite of self-doubt and how it can debilitate your game. Since what goes on in your head while up at the plate can play a large role on how your body performs, it only seems fitting that we dissect this mental parasite thoroughly.

Parasite #3 - Self-doubt

Because hitting is such a mental performance, zero tolerance for self-doubt must be the objective. The mind works as a giant and elaborate computer than constantly sends messages to the body giving directives on how to perform. Self-doubt parasites eat away at the wiring between the mental computer and the body. This causes athletes to become uncertain in many of their movements and in the art of hitting a baseball, there is no time for uncertainty. Here are some prime self-doubt situations where parasites hop on board if your mental game is not right.

1. Late in the game and having an O-fer day

2. Full count when having a poor day

3. 0-2, 1-2 counts

4. Pitcher with a good pitch (fast fastball, curveball, etc)

The negative affects to the baseball swing self-doubt causes are numerous. Mainly, it causes the hitter to resort to defensive hitting techniques which is demonstrated by hitting behind in the count or swinging at very few fastballs early in the count. Many players who are prone to the self-doubt parasite tend to be streaky and inconsistent hitters. This defensiveness will only cause prolonged frustration which then fuels more self-doubt and more frustration.

So how do you debug your system and keep the self-doubt parasite out?

1. Understand why self-doubt and failure is occurring and begin to have others help with the problem.

2. Know your swing inside and out and find a hitting coach who knows your swing who will help you through inconsistencies.

3. Have a mentor who is baseball specific who you can call and receive guidance from.

4. Relax, baseball is full of failures. A baseball season is like a marathon and not a sprint.

5. Be consistent on working on your strengths during practice. On a scale of 1-10, work to get your strengths at 8 or above. Bring weaknesses up to a 5 or 6. You can afford a couple small holes in swings, or some inabilities to hit certain pitches, all the way up into high school baseball. But the key is what you do with a pitch in your preferred hitting zone that will make all the difference in the world for your confidence.

There is one common remedy for all the hitting parasites I've shared in these past three articles. That is, hard work. I don't mean for it to sound cliche, it's just no truly good hitters develop and rid themselves of hitting parasites without it mixed into a solid dosage of baseball drills.

Nate Barnett is owner of BMI Baseball at His new FREE ebook, Toxic Baseball: Are you polluting your game? can be found on the main BMI Baseball website and discusses in more manner depth how to deal with failure in baseball.

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