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Pete Kozma's Purely
Rotational Swing

As I have said before, as a kid I was taught Extension Hitting, which is the label that I use to describe the style of hitting that was taught by Charley Lau Sr. and that is still taught by his students and disciples. That approach to teaching hitting didn't help me or any of the people that I know.

As a result, when I started researching hitting in an effort to help my older son, I was immediately intrigued by the concept of Rotational Hitting. I also saw that it quickly helped to improve some critical aspects of my older son's swing.

In fact, I was so taken by the concept of Rotational Hitting that I used it to describe my approach to teaching hitting and as the title of my first hitting DVD, Rotational Hitting 101.

The Limits of "Rotational Hitting"

As I have spent more time talking about hitting with people, I have found that there is a significant amount of baggage associated with the term "Rotational Hitting," so much so that I am moving away from using the term to describe my approach to teaching hitting.

The problem is that many people are teaching Rotational Hitting as being completely about rotation and without any linear component; without any weight shift. That is particularly, and primarily, true of the teachings of Mike Epstein.

However, in my opinion what Mike Epstein and his disciples are teaching doesn't sync up with what I see when I study The High-Level Swing.

Pete Kozma and Rotational Hitting

And what does this have to do with Pete Kozma's swing?

As it turns out, Pete Kozma is the posterchild for the limits of the rotation-only approch to teaching Rotational Hitting; of the limits of teaching a swing with no linear component.

When I saw Pete Kozma in 2010, when he was at AA, he utilized some stride and weight shift.

Pete Kozma's Swing

Pete Kozma

As I discussed in my 2010 analysis of Pete Kozma's swing, his lower body action was far from optimal, showing evidence of what some scouts would label as "bad feet," but at least then he transferred some of his weight forward and into the ball.

Pete Kozma's Swing

Pete Kozma

Unfortunately, the swing that Pete Kozma is now ultilizing in the big leagues is a perfect example of the "spinny," zero weight shift swing that is so often taught as Rotational Hitting and that is rightly criticized as not resembling The High-Level Swing.

The clip below is from Saturday June 23, 2013 and shows Pete Kozma's swing. What is remarkable about this swing is that, what little movement there is, is primarily vertical.

Pete Kozma's Swing

Pete Kozma
June 23, 2013

There is essentially no forward, linear component to Pete Kozma's swing.

Yes, Pete Kozma does take a step forward toward the pitcher. However, if you draw a marker down through the top of his head, you will see that Pete Kozma exhibits very little forward movement of the rest of his body in general and of his hips in particular.

Instead, he just drops and spins.

Pete Kozma's Swing

Pete Kozma
June 23, 2013

If you compare Pete Kozma's swing to the swing of Albert Pujols, who also took a relatively short stride, you will see that Pujols had much more forward, linear movement of his hips toward the pitcher. That added energy into his swing that helped to drive the rotation of his hips.

Albert Pujols' Swing

Albert Pujols

You can see a similar difference if you look at the swing of Matt Carpenter, a hitter who has roughly the same amount of experience in the major league and who is hitting much better than Pete Kozma is.

Matt Carpenter's Swing

Matt Carpenter

Because Pete Kozma doesn't have this forward, linear thrust of his back hip, and instead just spins in place, his swing is weaker than it needs to be. As a result, he doesn't hit the ball as hard as he is capable of, which turns line drives into out and not singles or doubles.

If I Ran The Zoo

If Pete Kozma asked me what he should do about his swing, I would have two recommendations.

First, I would have Pete Kozma change his stance. Right now he is too upright, which is one reason why his movement is primarily vertical. He needs to get into a more athletic stance where his knees are more bent and he is lower to the ground. That will allow him to swing and to adjust more with his entire body and less with his arms. That will also make it easier for him to get more of his weight into the pitch.

Improving his posture is one of the things that has helped my client Andres Torres make progress toward return to his 2010 form.

Second, I would have Pete Kozma work on getting his hips moving linearly forward toward the pitcher. As Albert Pujols demonstrates, this forward linear movement doesn't have to be excessive. However, I would like to see Pete Kozma direct his energy forward toward the pitcher, rather than down toward the ground, because I think that would help him hit the ball harder and increase the likelihood that the result would be a single or double.

More On Pete Kozma's Swing

My 2010 analysis of Pete Kozma's swing contains more clips of Pete Kozma's swing and a discussion of other, likely related, aspects of his swing that may be affecting his performance.

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