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The rotational hitting philosophy of instruction

 Rotational hitting is a relatively new philosophy of hitting instruction that has caught the attention of many players and is somewhat debated due to its difference from the conventional hitting instruction of old. Made popular by former Major League ballplayer, Mike Epstein, the rotational swing is supposed to produce more bat speed as opposed to the more traditional "linear" swing.

The whole theory behind all of this is that what the majority of amateur coaches are teaching and what all successful hitters are actually DOING is something completely different. Basically it is a way of teaching that closely analyzes the way the pros swing, and attempts to mimic that as much as possible.

So what is linear hitting??

The linear swing is the way of teaching that has hitters taking the hands and feet straight to the ball in a "linear" fashion. Here are some popular sayings used by the more familiar linear philosophy.

  • Stride toward the pitcher
  • Swing down at the ball
  • Squish the bug
  • Form the power V at contact

These are some of the teaching methods that the rotational hitting philosophy debunks. As the linear style of teaching says to get your hands and feet moving in a straight line toward the pitcher, the rotational style is very different.

How is rotational different??

The rotational method of teaching says that you will generate more bat speed and therefore more power, not if you stride, but if you use more of your hips and legs generate more TORQUE. This involves beginning the swing already in an athletic stance with the legs somewhat spread, so that the swing involves more of a weight transfer, rather than a stride.

Just take a look at the batting stances of Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen, and Jim Edmonds. (Can’t tell I like the Cards, can you?) Their stances have their legs spread and somewhat squatting in an athletic position before the ball gets there. That way when they start their swing, they’re already in a position to generate lots of power. They never stride. They just lift the front foot a little, and powerfully rotate.

Rotational teachers say that the swing should lead with the hips, and that the shoulders and hands follow, allowing the batter to generate a high amount of torque with the swing. When this happens, the batter actually ends up with most of the weight on the front foot, and his back foot is almost lifted off the ground. This also debunks the "squish the bug" theory.

They also say that if the arms are completely extended at the time of contact, as to form the "power-V", they cannot be generating the maximum amount of bat speed possible. And you are actually hitting with more power when you hit the ball a little further back in the strike zone and the arms will not be fully extended, but the back arm will be at a 90 degree angle when contact is made.

Summary

To me, this whole philosophy of rotational hitting DOES make sense. Because if we are TEACHING hitters to do something that the best hitters in the game aren’t even DOING, than that doesn’t make much sense. Although it does go against many of the things that I was taught about hitting, it does make sense.

From someone who’s always been a pretty decent hitter, I’ve always hit better for base hits rather than home runs (although I will get one every now and then). And I must say that I try to do everything according to how I was taught (the linear method). Maybe that explains why.

This article only scratches the surface on the subject of rotational hitting. There are a couple of other great resources where you can learn gobs more listed below.

Chris O'Leary's website and blog. There is a wealth of information at this website.

As a final note, I would at least look into this way of teaching if I were a young ballplayer. Who knows? It could mean the difference of hitting 1 home run a season or 10!!


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