Tried and True: One College Player's Experience with MaxBP
"I watched helplessly from the first base coaches box and could see the pain, frustration, and total dejection on my son's face as he walked back to the dugout after yet another strikeout,” said Chuck Barnard, recalling a difficult moment during his son Billy’s Babe Ruth season early on in his high school career.
Billy, Chuck said, was ready to give up the sport amidst struggles at the plate as well at shortstop. Wanting to see his son succeed and recapture that joy for the game, Chuck opted to invest in a MaxBP pitching machine, hoping that “it could help with his timing and eye-hand coordination”.
The machine arrived with only a handful of weeks remaining in the season but, as they say, there’s no time like the present. So the Barnards got to work. As Chuck described it, early struggles turned into improvements, which then became increasingly substantial. Billy’s strikeout rate declined, Chuck said, and he managed to get his first hit in the final game of the season. 1-for-23 with 13 strikeouts isn’t a varsity batting line by any stretch.
So, they went back to work, practicing with MaxBP through the rest of the summer and starting right back up again the following spring ahead of the baseball season.
Billy played junior varsity his sophomore year; his former summer league coach, also coach of the high school’s varsity team, wanted to see that his hitting had improved.
“ I give [MaxBP] a tremendous amount of credit for his turn around,” Chuck said, “He hit .333 with a .404 on-base percentage and a .840 OPS [that year].”
And the hard work paid off: in his junior year of high school, Billy made the move to varsity starter, playing shortstop, and picked right back up where’d finished the previous year.
He led his team with a .407 batting average and .492 on-base percentage along with14 runs batted in; his efforts translated into a second team all-conference recognition at shortstop. According to Chuck, over the course of 68 plate appearances during which he saw 241 pitches, Billy swung and missed at only three pitches over the course of the season.
And it wasn’t just one person reaping the rewards:“One of [Billy]’s best friends started using the machine with him this year,” Chuck said, “That player hit lead-off and batted .357 with a .456 OBP. Last year, that same player while on the varsity team only hit .208. Did maturity have anything to do with their success? Probably. Watching them hit I know the MaxBP pitching machine had a tremendous impact on their timing, eye-hand coordination, and vision.”
Billy’s effort was enough to draw the attention of New England-area college programs who saw potential in Billy’s 5’8”, 140 pound frame and Billy joined the University of Southern Maine baseball program after graduating high school in 2019.
The Covid-19 pandemic threw a bit of a wrench into his first collegiate season but Barnard joined up with one of the few operating summer leagues in the country, playing against D1 and top D3 players looking to stay sharp after a lost season, and was named a league all-star.
We circled back with the Barnards this spring to see how Billy had fared at the college level. Chuck explained that his son hasn’t been seeing as many at-bats this season as his coaches shuffle the line-ups, and had been hitting fewer line-drives in batting practice than previously. The duo, Chuck explained, have come up with an off-season workout plan to help get back to aspects of the game that had previously worked, including using MaxBP to keep visual and timing skills sharp.
Chuck reported that his son had brought the machine to campus a few weeks prior for the team to use in training and “Lo and behold, their hitting has been improving over the past couple of weeks,” Chuck said, “The team has actually gone 11-and-2 over that time frame.”
“Last year was a bit of a struggle in the beginning of the summer because he was working on changing his swing to try to improve his bat speed and power numbers,” Chuck said, reflecting back, “He was not using the MaxBP during that season as he was doing much more t-work and work at a local facility.”
Chuck continued: “He did not use the MaxBP this fall for no particular reason. He has been over the past two weeks and he is kicking himself for not having used it regularly as he did in high school and at the beginning of his USM career.
As the school year comes to a close, the Barnards want to ensure that Billy is ready to progress through the lineup next season and make an impact on the field as much as possible. Both father and son have focused on MaxBP as a key component of the training needed to reach and maintain a high level of skill; they know that it worked before and they know that it can work again.
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