The haymaker punch, also called the "clothesline punch," has been neglected in MMA and boxing instruction for far too long. In this book, I show boxers, MMA fighters, or even regular people looking to improve their self defense, why the haymaker is such a valuable movement for ending a fight quickly, and how to train to be able to call on it when you need it.
I see my job as a movement coach to point a spotlight on the movements that have been taught incorrectly or just plain neglected. Many will say, just as they did when I started in baseball, that I don't have the necessary experience to have opinions about a movement in MMA. But I know an opportunity when I see one. And right now, there is an opportunity for any MMA fighter who is willing to practice the haymaker.
In The Haymaker eBook, I will walk you through my personal journey in becoming a movement coach, why the haymaker has been neglected, why it is the most valuable movement in MMA, and how to incorporate it into your training to start ending fights more quickly and decisively.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 - Big Improvement Through Small Changes
In this chapter, I talk about my journey to help athletes drastically improve their performance through make small adjustments to their most valuable movements.
Chapter 2 - The Haymaker
Here I talk about the difference between the Haymaker and the Cross, the different kinds of Haymakers, and the various fighters who have implemented the Haymaker punch with great success. I also talk about the myth of "Conception to Contact," which says that conventional instruction has thought that it's important to decrease the time as much as possible from the time that you decide to throw to contact, but what's really important is what I call "Perception to Contact." I also discuss other myths and misconceptions held by conventional striking instruction.
Chapter 3 - How the Haymaker Leads to More KOs
In this chapter, I get into detail about why the Haymaker works so well - the mechanical systems behind the punch that give it more power and consistency.
Chapter 4 - How to Train the Haymaker
Here is where I give you the drills you need to incorporate the Haymaker punch into your own game. One of the things I talk about is the tendency of conventional instruction to use way too much punch resistance way too often. I also talk about ways to disguise the Haymaker so your opponent isn't ready for it.
Chapter 5 - In Closing
Lastly, I talk about how MMA, like any sport, is simply a game of odds. The way to increase your odds of success is to increase the odds of success of your most dangerous weapons first and foremost. I also talk about how the future of MMA will certainly be one in which the Haymaker punch is recognized for what it is - MMA's most valuable weapon.
First Chapter Sample
(Read below or download here)
Big Improvement Through Small Changes
When I was a sophomore in college I experienced something that would set the compass for my career as a sports movement coach. I had never known before how much an athlete could improve just by making a small, simple change to a single movement. The story goes like this...
My entire life hitting a baseball never came easy for me. From little league to high school ball, I was always the hardest worker but remained an average hitter. Hard work payed off for my defense however, and I was able to earn a starting position as a shortstop at a Division 1 University my freshman year.
A teammate told me during the last game of my freshman season, “Don’t worry about your hitting. You’re out there for your defense.” But I wasn’t satisfied with that. I lived for those two or three ground balls I would get every game and dread going to the plate. I was growing tired of only playing half the game. I wanted to hit too. My freshman season I had a dismal year at the plate, and I was starting to think that maybe great hitters are born not made. But I kept plugging away, doing the only thing I knew - applying hard work.
During the fall season of my sophomore year, I started borrowing the video camcorders from the school’s media center to record my swings during practice. I would examine the footage looking for patterns that could hold the key to hitting. I would compare the positions I achieved through the swing with images of great hitters I saw in Sports Illustrated magazines. I worked hard on various changes, hitting balls off the tee and tinkering with my swing daily. But when the spring season finally came, I was back to my usual self, hitting with very little power. None of the changes I had made worked.
After the fourth game of the season, something extraordinary happened. I was one for twelve and felt as though something had to be done. I felt I had nothing to lose. I couldn’t hit any worse, and I was beginning to think I was ready to quit at the end of the season. So I decided to scrap everything I had been taught about the swing and think outside the box about what kind of change I could make to my swing. While my teammates were in their rooms playing cards and chatting, I stood in front of a mirror in the hotel lobby, trying to come up with a change that I had never tried before and that I could take into our game the next day. I had tinkered with my swing since I was in little league, with no apparent success, but unbeknownst to me, in front of that hotel mirror, for the first time in my life, I would actually make a change that worked with unbelievable results.
Technically speaking, I thought about how disconnected my hands were from my body at contact. When I looked at the swings of great hitters, the guys who hit for both power and consistency - from Babe Ruth to Ken Griffey, Jr - they were more connected, their back arm more bent and their front arm closer to the chest, at contact. So I casted the bat outward - something conventional instruction admonished. I also pushed my hands farther back behind me at the start of the swing, almost like I was leaving the hands behind as I started rotating forward - something conventional instruction called dragging the bat and labeled a bad thing. I had always assumed conventional instruction was right, and never questioned what was taught. But on this night I was throwing all that out and trying my own things. With these changes, I was able to give myself a better chance of being more connected at contact, like the great hitters I saw in pictures. I took about a hundred swings and felt ready to take it into the game the next day.
Right away the results were immediate and obvious. The ball was coming off my bat completely differently - different trajectory, different speed. In pregame batting practice, I could hit line drives at will. In the very first game after the change I went four for four - something I had never done in my life, not even in little league, and here we were playing the College of Charleston, a top Division 1 team stacked with pitchers who could throw in the nineties. I ended the year batting .364, highest on the team. I had gone from the lowest average my freshman year (.197) to the highest. I also improved my power numbers, going from zero home runs (actually I had never hit a home run in my life up to that point) to four, second on the team.
It was all because I made one small, but right, change to my swing. That whole season I was in a bit of a shock to be honest. I never expected to have such a great year at the plate. I would have been happy with a .300 average and one home run. I also hadn’t realized before that such a drastic improvement was even possible, much less that it could happen as quickly as it did. I never saw or even knew of any hitter who went from perpetually having no power and always being one of the worst hitters on the team to being one of the best hitters on the team from one year to the next - not in little league, not in high school, not in the pros. Never. And the fact that it happened literally overnight was absolutely paradigm shattering.
I had just assumed that all improvement, in any sport, would come gradually. I had worked hard on hitting throughout my life,
and had made numerous swing changes, but never stumbled
on anything that worked like the change I made that night in Charleston, South Carolina. Before that, it was always difficult to tell if a swing change worked. It might seem to work for a while, but then I would be back to my old self again. But this change was immediate and obvious. It worked.
At that point you could say I became hooked. It made me question everything I previously believed about the swing and human movement in general. I wanted to learn more. I wanted a complete understanding of how the baseball swing worked and how one could optimize it. I became more fixated on human movement than pursuing a career in baseball, and after college, in 2001, I started working with high level amateur and professional baseball players, once again using video to analyze their swings. This is when I was given the nickname The Swing Mechanic by the players I worked with, a name which has stuck to this day.
Just about everything I learned about the swing and
was teaching to players flew in the face of conventional baseball swing instruction. Most of the things I worked on with hitters would have been denounced by their team hitting coach had they found out. But the hitters I worked with just kept it between us. I was unconventional but conventional instruction had been stuck teaching outdated methods for a long time.
When I started working with pros, I had to convince them that the swing had not been taught correctly and that there was a better way. For guys who made it so far as to be getting paid to play, it’s a tough sell that you want them to change their swing. But I would explain to them that they were capable of much more power if they just made some minor tweaks to their mechanics. Once I was able to convince them to give it a try, they could feel and see the improvement in their new swing pretty quickly. Pretty soon, some of the hitters I worked with made it to the Major Leagues. One even went on to earn a World Series MVP. A quote from ESPN the Magazine said, “Cevallos told Zobrist he could turn him into a power hitter...The results have been remarkable.”
I came from outside the conventional teaching circles to basically rewrite the way the baseball swing was taught. I flipped conventional instruction on its head. Whereas before nobody cared to listen to me, once the players I was working with started achieving success, suddenly people were interested in what I was teaching. Major League Baseball teams began reaching out to me. I was mentioned in best-selling books, newspapers and magazines as being the swing guru behind the success of MLB hitters. Andrew Friedman, now the president of the Los Angeles Dodgers, in the book Swing Kings, called my work with hitters “influential and instrumental” in showing people how much can be done by just making small changes to a player’s swing.
Prior to my success as a swing coach, most of the players I met with were rarely very interested in what I had to say about the swing. I felt like I wanted to scream from a mountaintop that conventional instruction had been wrong. Nobody wanted to listen because I didn’t appear like the regular hitting coach they were used to - with my big duffle bag of video equipment and layman’s clothing. More often than not they’d dismiss me out of hand. But I had to speak what I I believed was the truth, whether it was conventional or not. And I just kept meeting with players, and luckily I was finally able to meet some who were open to new ideas.
Ironically, it was precisely because I was an outsider and different from the other hitting coaches that I was able to make an impact in Major League Baseball. My advantage was that I wasn’t conditioned to see the baseball swing a certain way and I wasn’t beholden to any single teaching methodology, as MLB hitting coaches are. Also, I could teach my own unique approach to the swing without worrying about losing my job or being ostracized. MLB coaches don’t have these luxuries.
I was well aware of what had been taught about the baseball for decades before I came along. I was a student of the history of teaching the swing as much as I was a student of the swing itself, and having been a player who tried it all, I had real world experience, not just theoretical. It all pointed to baseball having been stuck in an old, outdated approach to teaching the swing for a long time, and I was prepared to blaze a new trail.
I expect the same reaction in the MMA community. Who’s this guy, they will say. He’s a baseball coach, not an MMA fighter.
I understand. Coaches have a vested interest oftentimes in excluding new ideas. After all, it could threaten their career. But I’m not trying to do anything of the sort. I’ll be the first to admit I could never be a Trevor Whitman, Rafael Cordero, or Mark Henry. If I suddenly had to design a practice routine for a fighter, develop a strategy, or corner a fight, I’d be lost. These guys, and the conventional MMA coach in general, are experts in ways I am not. They are needed. I just have something to say about a single movement.
I am simply trying to bring some attention and respect to the haymaker punch (also called the "clothesline"), which has, like the baseball swing, been misunderstood for far too long. I see a future where all fighters develop a power game through regular haymaker practice. This may take a few years, which means that right now there’s an opportunity for those willing to be early adopters.
Let me clarify up front that I am not trying to say that the way the punch is traditionally taught - what I refer to as the straight punching style - is wrong. On the contrary, the straight punch is a very useful move (and even more so when used in combination with a haymaker). It’s the neglect and disregard of the haymaker by conventional MMA instruction, and the omitting of its utility in training and practice, that I believe is a big mistake, and which provides the opportunity.
I see it as my job to enlighten fighters to this opportunity, so that they can experience something similar to what I experienced my sophomore year in college - quick and drastic improvement in performance through a simple mechanical change. Like I did in baseball, I am coming from outside the MMA community to add something that can be of tremendous value. The haymaker is one of MMA’s most valuable moves. There is no single movement that is more reliable for producing a knockout. So why not devote some time to it?
We’ve seen how other sports can add value to MMA - wrestlers make great takedown artists, soccer players make great kickers, breakdancers make great jiu jitsu practitioners. Baseball, as well, can provide insight and value to MMA fighters - insight that could bring the haymaker punch back into prominence.
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