Tuesday, August 7, 2018

PRODUCT REVIEW: B-Ram Sports Line Drive Hitting Rope

As someone who has been playing baseball my whole life and now coaches my own kids, I'm always on the lookout for new training tools that can help us achieve our goals. We have training balls, tees, nets, a rebounder, and I spend a lot of time with my kids at the batting cages and fields working on hitting, fielding, and throwing.  A few months ago my wife mentioned something she'd seen on Facebook called a line drive hitting rope from a company called B-Ram Sports. Intrigued, I decided to investigate a bit more into what exactly this hitting rope was and who was behind it.

The hitting rope is made and sold by B-Ram Sports, a company started by Mike and Chelsea Bramlett. Mike Bramlett devised the hitting rope to help his daughter Chelsea get her swing on a plane and hit line drives. Combined with her natural talent, it was very successful because Chelsea ended her collegiate career at Mississippi State University as the career leader in batting average (.461), runs scored (219), hits (359), and stolen bases (207). She has the single season batting average record when she hit a whopping .536 in 2010, a year in which she also set the stolen base record with 61 thefts. She also played for Team USA. She has now set up B-Ram Sports to make and sell the hitting rope line drive trainer, and they were kind enough to send me one to use myself and with my kids for the purposes of this review.

The Hitting Rope, instructions, and optional handle attachment
First, the design. The hitting rope is so simple in its design and function that it's elegant. It consists of a rope (it comes in either 16' or 18' lengths) with six wiffle balls strung on it. There are turnbuckles and hooks at either end and a U-clamp to adjust the length of the rope. B-Ram Sports has a patent on the this and credit must be given to them for thinking of this design before anyone else. The hitting rope is then set up between two walls, posts, fences, or whatever anchors you have by hooking it on to eye bolts at either end. The rope is tightened so that it's taut and straight by adjusting the turnbuckles or shortening the rope with the U-clamp. If there's only one anchor point available, an optional handle can be purchased in order for someone to hold the rope taut during use. This latter set-up is how I used it since I don't have a fence at the end of my yard. I also put three eye bolts in a post at differing heights, not only to accommodate the different heights of my kids and me, but also to work on high, middle, and low pitches with them.

Using the hitting rope is simple: you bring a ball out to a spot in the middle of the rope where you can hit it, you get in your batting stance, and you swing. What's great is that you get instant feedback on whether you've swung properly on a plane or not. Do it correctly and the ball will zip down to the other end in a smooth line with no rope movement. Do it wrong and the ball won't move much, but the rope sure will! I was able to step right up to it and do it properly from my very first swing, but it took a lot of concentration to make sure my swing was level each and every time. After doing it multiple times, it became second nature. A few days into using it and I was hitting everything on a plane straight down the rope without even thinking about it. I will say that beyond the improvement in technique that the hitting rope helped with, it's also a lot of fun to use!

My son starting his swing

The follow through


It took my kids a little while to get used to it. My oldest daughter had a trouble with getting the ball to travel all the way down the line; a huge part of this was her fear of swinging at her full speed and strength. She also had a tendency to swing down at the ball instead of on a plane. A few days after starting her training, she was swinging much more level and once I was able to convince her to swing normally, she got the hang of it and was hitting balls down the rope with minimal movement. My son picked it up pretty much right away although at first he was hitting the balls down the line while swinging under the rope. I corrected that and he leveled out his swing and started hitting them correctly. My youngest daughter struggled a bit (but she's only seven years old and just started playing softball this past spring). However, she's gotten better the more she's used it...I've already seen improvement in her swing and we're going to continue to work on the rope during her fall season.

When my kids and I work with the hitting rope, we do several different drills. We do standard hitting where the rope is set up belt high. I also adjust the height so they get used to swinging at high and low pitches. I do this both by changing which of the three eye bolts it's hooked into at the end and also by varying the angle I hold the other end with the handle. I do the same with the handle for inside and outside pitches so they have to work on the entire strike zone. We also do one hand drills with both hands to build up strength and to keep their hands from dropping. Our goal is to get 100 swings a day in, each, and so far we've been able to stick to that.

Below is a sequence of photos showing my oldest daughter swinging through on the rope and hitting the ball properly down the line.









As for results, I'm not exaggerating when I say that we saw almost immediate improvements. With only a couple of days using the hitting rope under their belts, both my oldest daughter and my son were hitting more line drives and hitting the ball a lot harder. Both of them had tryouts for their travel teams for the upcoming season and both were hitting the ball even better than usual. I would say the proof is in the pudding since both of them made the teams they wanted to. Also in my son's first fall game this past weekend he went 3-3 with two screaming line drives, one to left field and one that short-hopped the fence for a double. He's always hit the ball hard, but he was hitting them even straighter and harder than usual and I know it's because he's been working on the rope every day since we got it. We continue to use the hitting rope as part of our regular workouts and as soon as the weather gets colder, I'll be moving it inside and setting it up in the garage so we can keep working all winter.

The hitting rope is a valuable, effective, and fun tool we have added to our training repertoire. The combination of it being fun and easy to use, the instant feedback it generates, and the results mean it's something I'm also going to recommend to the teams I coach. Whether you coach, play, or just like to swing the bat, no matter what age you are or what level you play at, the hitting rope is a great addition to any practice regimen. I highly recommend it.

To purchase the hitting rope, go to B-Ram Sports website HERE. They have two different length ropes and either white or colored wiffle balls.

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