If interested in setting up your own Green Light Hitting Assessment to determine your Level, please visit our GoWags website here to purchase an initial assessment.
The first level that must be achieved in Green Light Hitting is the INTENT to swing. Level One hitters must be trained on the basic Green Light Hitting mentality. I'M GOING TO SWING THE BAT ON THIS PITCH!
Common coaching phrases like "Make it be a strike" are often times very detrimental to Level 1 hitters. They don't need to process. They need to react. "No take" ATEC ball batting practice is perfect for Level 1 hitters.
Once a player has demonstrated the ability to WANT to hit the ball, we must then try to match the player's bat path to the ball's path. We may continue to work on similar things that Level 1 players work on, but Level 2 players now must understand where we would like to hit the ball as the ball moves towards the catcher. We place the tee slightly in front of the plate and ask our Level 2 players to drive the baseball.
We aren't too concerned how they hit it, just that they attack it out in front of the plate.Young developing hitters can become victims to the tee that is placed in the middle of the plate. We must train our Level 2 hitters to get the ball out in front.
Once a player has demonstrated the ability to hit the "tee" ball out in front, he must prove he is willing to get the thrown ball out in front. A Level 3 hitter should have already proven a willingness to hit. What he needs to prove now is a willingness to engage his hips.
We encourage Level 3 front toss to be done with lightweight balls (ATEC, Incredible balls, or wiffle balls). They feel great when you hit them but it doesn't hurt when you get jammed. We also suggest that this training be done from 15 to 20 feet. We must be careful at this level to not correct a kid who is attempting to get the ball out in front of home plate - albeit mechanically incorrect. Our focus for Level 3 is more about willingness than efficiency.
Front Toss Video Coming Soon
It is essential for development that the Level 4 hitter begin to feel the hips work as they swing the bat. We do not expect the Level 4 hitter to use his hips on two planes (Level 5). In other words, the ability to drive the outside pitch is not a graduation requirement. Drills should still be focused on driving the pitch middle - in. Hitters must begin to push into the ground and rotate and rotate fast. Level 4 hitters are generally young hitters. The bat ball impact is a collision. Level 4 hitters must be convinced that turning fast is essential to winning this collision battle. We recognize that Level 4 hitters don't have extreme athleticism yet (degrees of freedom) so turning fast might mean that they're shoulders and even head turn off the ball. So be it right now. We must unlock the hips before any further significant growth can take place.
Wave Master Video Coming Soon
Level 5(One of the toughest levels to achieve):
The hips must begin to work on two planes. It is no longer acceptable just to move the hips but now the hips must move with the head inside the knees (toward the plate). This posture or tilt allows a developing hitter the opportunity to handle the ball away authentically. Many times, this posture or tilt is difficult to attain because the athlete simply doesn't have enough core strength to maintain his position over the plate. One of the biggest hindrances to developing necessary tilt, posture is the player's insistence on "staying balanced." Green Light Hitting does not teach a balanced swing!!!! We believe the term balance in the eyes of knowledgable hitting instructors is actually what we call IMPULSE FLEXIBILITY (Level 11). Level 5 players must maintain proper posture as they turn fast. If they turn fast with proper posture they very well may lose their balance over the plate. The ball bat collision is a milli-second in time. We want the bat moving as fast as possible. By training a hitter to maintain balance, he often decelerates much too early and moves the bat "off plane" to achieve this undesired result of "balance."
No Stride, Outside Corner Tee Work Video Coming Soon
Level 6 is only different than Level 5 in that we allow a player to finally take some pitches from distance. Our Level 1-5 hitters have been trained in a "no take" environment to foster the Green Light Mentality. Now, we're permitting a player to recognize the fact that he might not be able to smash the baseball.
Level 7 must recognize that the lead shoulder plays a roll in the swing(essentially the 3rd degree of freedom). We want balls to fly off the bat with back spin rather than top spin. To create a consistent ball flight we must engage our lead shoulder with the ability to "stay through the baseball." Our focus with our Level 7 hitters is to maintain their bat path through the baseball even after contact has occurred. Now that the hips should be unlocked and performing their role, we address the lead shoulder joint and make sure it is staying through the ball away and not rolling over prematurely. End of the bat contact should be extremely rare for the Level 7 hitter. Getting jammed is a much more acceptable swing flaw rather than end of the bat contact. We do not want to exit the zone prematurely in Level 7. If during batting practice, foul balls or even swing and misses are prevalent, Level 7 has not been achieved.
Open Chest Drill Video Coming Soon
"Pain is the greatest teacher." Unfortunately, this truth makes Level 8 difficult. Players have a difficult time staying over the outside corner when they feel vulnerable to the inside pitch. Level 8 is about maintaing proper posture over the plate and staying through the outside pitch despite the fact that a pitcher might go inside. We're not interested in adjusting quite yet (Level 9) but we want to make sure with our tee work/ front toss drills that the threat of in doesn't pull us off the outside pitch.
We must now learn to how to handle the inside pitch deep to the plate. This adjustability is critical. The ability to impact the inside pitch very late in its' ball flight is the very beginning of how to hit off-speed pitches. We must give the developing hitter an opportunity to allow the ball to "get in" or "travel" by training him to hit the ball with the hands inches from the torso. Many players struggle with Level 9 because for years they have "taken their hands to the ball" and now feel the need to be "quick" on the inside pitch to get it out in front. Development beyond Level 9 will only occur when a player can handle both the outside and the inside pitch location in a deep position.
Level 10 differs from Level 9 in "distance trained only." Whereas Level 9 is a developmental Level in teaching a player to impact the ball deep to his chest, Level 10 is the implementation of this from actual distance thrown. A Level 10 player will NOT take the inside pitch 2" off the inside corner. He will adjust to this pitch with a proper scapula pinch. Level 10 players must learn to move the barrel of their bat laterally late in the swing. Without this adjustment skill they'll always be at the mercy of the late moving pitch. Level 9 players can execute these adjustment skills of the tee wile Level 10 players can execute these skills from the thrown ball.
Hitting the ball deep is the precursor to hitting an off speed pitch. If your swing is programmed to go get an inside pitch "out in front" you'll always cheat to the ball coming out of the pitcher's hand on the inside window. Once a player proves capable and willing to handle each pitch including the inside pitch deep to your body, we begin to show them curveballs. These curveballs are thrown in PREDICTABLE SETTINGS. This means we're not surprising them with the pitch. Essentially it's curveball batting practice. We teach the hitter to recognize how the ball pops up out of the pitcher's hand. Our training centers on what we refer to as "Impulse Flexibility." We want the Level 11 hitter to realize that hitting curveballs won't always look ideal. We will often be fooled by the speed of the pitch and a flexible lead knee will help our hitters "let the ball travel."
Level 12 training involves training the hitter to hit both the fastball and the curveball. Similar to Level 1-3 we want our hitter rooted in a foundation of aggression with this new challenge. We do not want our developing hitters to be in "take" mode. A common error in training and developing curveball hitters is to train the take prior to the hit. We want our Green Light Hitters to work in a "no take" environment with Level 12. A batting practice pitcher or a front flip pitcher will vary his pitches (fastball/curevball) or (7's and 3's)* and the hitter will swing at each and every pitch so long as it's not a gross miss. If the ball is in a hittable position we want to try and swing at it. The reason for this is extremely revealing for curveball development. Hitters take pitches for two primary reasons; they think it's a ball or they can't hit it. We must eliminate the variable of "we thought it was a ball" and get after the reason why they can't hit it. The reason they usually can't hit it (assuming Level 9 and 10 have been achieved) is they lack the proper Impulse Flexibility. Level 12 is simply about training a flexible lead knee in getting to off-speed pitches in an unpredictable setting.
* front flip speeds vary from 1-10. 1's are very slow while 10's are extremely fast.
Level 13 is similar to Level 12 with the exception of the take is allowed. Once a player proves capable of hitting bad curveballs without the excuse of "it was a ball" we give them the choice as to what curveballs they choose to hit and choose to take. The last thing a coach or hitting instructor should impose on a player is what pitches he is capable of hitting and not hitting. There have been very good bad ball hitters. If a player proves capable of hitting 2-0 curveballs, good for him. However, this Level is the Level where DISCIPLINE appears. As pitchers become more and more precise and unpredictable we do ask our Level 13 hitters to GET THEIR PITCH ON THEIR TERMS. Level 13 hitters are still on Green Light (OF COURSE) but their more discretionary with their swings. They understand the value of the 2-0 count. They understand that taking a strike isn't necessarily the worst thing in the world if it wasn't a pitch that they were anticipating. Level 13 hitters have tremendous impulse flexibility but it doesn't mean they have to use it if they're in an advantage count. This is a very difficult Level to pass as it requires a tremendous amount of repetition in an unpredictable setting (throwing curveballs and fastballs). Hitters that swing at bad batting practice curveballs in the dirt aren't quite Level 13 hitters, yet. They're still Level 12 hitters, at the best.
Level 14 hitters are the high end high school player and the college player. They may not have necessarily developed Level 13 skills entirely but their quickness has developed to where they are at least successful against a very good fastball. This quickness has allowed them to "let the ball get deep." Although hitting off-speed pitches will eventually be a necessity for developing as a hitter, Level 14 is simply about getting to a high level fastball. We do this through training and a new re-commitment to quickness and explosion drills.