The Search for My Perfect Swing — Part 5

Mechanical Teaching Aids

Part 5 will show you some of the teaching aids I’ve currently developed. Most are “works in progress”, however, I’ll explain their purpose and what I hope to add.

Line of Flight — This is a very simple aid, but, probably the most important. It shows the path that the center of gravity of each shoe should follow to the stake. All of the other aids work off of this very simple string that my pendulum swing should trace back and through.

Line of Flight

Line of Flight

Select the photo and double-click to see a larger version. Note, this is my right side approach for 30 feet. Since I do not stride, I only need this one 16×16″ block to simulate the foul line at 27 feet.

The All Important Plumb — Here are two photos of the plumb. It hangs down directly over the line of flight and permits me to address the stake by aligning the center of gravity of the shoe directly under the plumb. From this position I simply allow gravity to drop the shoe and continue on through the backswing. On the forward swing, I try to release the shoe and touch the plumb on the upswing.

Hanging Plumb

Hanging Plumb

Plumb and Center of Gravity

Plumb and Center of Gravity

The On-Plane Aid — This device took a little planning and about $100 worth of PVC pipe and connectors. The development started with tracing my swing arc. It turns out that my radius is 27 inches. So, this device started with a single arc with a 54 inch diameter. It works beautifully, but, I began to rely too heavily on touching the arc with my wrist back and through. It became apparent that I needed two arcs spaced apart that permitted me to swing back and through without touching either side of two arcs. So, I modified the first device by adding another arc that was adjustable in and out for wider or narrower spacing. Finally, I had to add adjustable feet to accommodate the unevenness of my approach area. Once I have verified my release point, I will be adding a little tickler at the appropriate spot on the upswing arc to synchronize my release point.

Single swing arc

Single swing arc

Double swing arc

Double swing arc

I am considering adding a little reminder that will touch my neck or head to remind me to keep it from moving back and forth. It will also remind me not to alter the vertical swinging of the pendulum (my arm). Moving my body in any direction will disrupt the accuracy of the swing.
NOTE: A LESSON LEARNED — When I first started using this aid I noticed that my shoes would consistently land right of the stake. I realized that when I was dangling my arm down through the arc, that it was in a relaxed state. In the process of swinging my arm forward my arm would straighten slightly. I realized that I needed to extend my arm to a fully extended position, i.e., no bend at the elbow to eliminate this problem. If you want to verify this, hold the shoe at your side in a relaxed manner, then straighten it slightly and note that the shoe moves rightward, off plane. I now concentrate on keeping my arm straight (not rigid) throughout the swing.

Correcting Your Stride — This aid is a simple board to assist in striding correctly to ensure that your hub moves along the line of flight. When I was pitching from 40 feet, I noticed that I had a tendancy to step too far to the right and not parallel the line of flight, forcing the shoes to miss right. This board consists of a divider that allows me to position my feet side by side (straddling the divider), stride forward along the divider on the forward swing and also step forward with my right foot so that both feet ended up even at the foul line. Note — the divider on the board is angled to run parallel to the line of flight. In the Pendulum Swing you do not want to stride toward the stake. You want your hub to follow the line of flight, not your feet, forcing the feet to end up pointed left of the stake but still parallel to the line of flight.

Proper Stride

Proper Stride

The Electronic Glove — This is a very simple teaching aid that contains a little circuit that will show you exactly where you are releasing the shoe. When you grip the shoe with finger and thumb, a circuit is formed that turns on a 12V LED. It stays on until you release the shoe. The concept is, to tell you where you are releasing the shoe, both vertically and horizontally. With this information I can plot the flight of my shoe from start to finish. I’ll discuss the program that calculates this plot a little later. A friend of mine, an electrical engineer, was kind enough to change the circuit so that the LED went ON when released, instead of OFF. I’m also wanting to add a little vibrator and sound generator to give me instant feedback. I am also considering adding a little circuit to my Swing Arc platform to alert me when the shoe reaches the proper release point. By setting this circuit at the correct release point, I can determine if I’m releasing early or late. Two photos below show the state of the glove while ON and OFF.

ON -- In Mid Swing

ON -- In Mid Swing

OFF -- Shoe Released

OFF -- Shoe Released

Pendulum Man — This is what started my search. I had noticed that when I addressed the stake, i.e., brought the shoe to eye level and sighted directly at the stake, it didn’t look like the shoe was over the “line of flight.” I wanted to visually ascertain what I should see when the shoe became part of the pendulum. So, I created what I referred to as “Pendulum Man,” for the sake of describing what I wanted it to represent. With a few pieces of PVC I built a representation of me. It was to represent my height, shoulder width, head location and arm length, with horseshoe attached. After I completed it, I set it down on my 40 foot approach with the arm at 90 degrees, directly over the line of flight, and, the center of gravity of the shoe pointing directly at the stake (first picture below). Note that the bottom of the photo shows the line of flight string, directly below the arm and the shoe aligned with an extension of the stake in the pit.
The second photo is photographed from where my head and eyes would be. To my amazement the visual alignment was way to the right. It was at this point that I decided I needed an indicator to show me where the shoe should be, when addressing the stake. Thus, the Plumb, pointing straight down at the line of flight and far enough forward to center the shoe at arms length, below the Plumb. I quickly realized that bringing the shoe up to eye level and aligning it with the stake could not possibly be part of the pendulum swing. As I mentioned before, that little piece of string was the genesis of the development of my swing and this blog. Below is a photo of “Pendulum Man” in the resting state.

Pendulum Man (resting)

Pendulum Man (resting)

Arm on line of flight

Arm on line of flight

Visual location of the shoe

Visual location of the shoe

Release and Height Frame— I decided I needed an accurate method of determining the release point, i.e., point downrange and height and the actual location of the highpoint and location downrange. I purchased enough PVC and multi-colored twine to create a checkerboard pattern in 3 inch increments in a 5 x 10 foot frame.

Location Frame

Location Frame

Email me if you have any questions or comments. 
Continue to Part 6
Table of Contents

Advertisements

Leave a comment

No comments yet.

Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s