Rotational Hitting 101
As a kid, I loved the game of baseball. However, I was never a great
hitter. While some of my problems were admittedly due to my not
wanting to wear my glasses, most of my problems were due to poor
I wasn't taught to do
what great hitters actually do.
Instead of powering my swing with my hips, I was taught to
transfer my weight from back to front and to keep my hips closed
into contact. Instead of staying connected, I was taught to make
the Power V and hit the ball with full extension at the point of
Just like George Brett did.
Or so I thought. And was taught.
Now that I have kids of my own, and coach them and their
friends, I have resolved to teach them
better than I was taught. As part of that effort, I have spent
years researching the various approaches to teaching
put this document together to serve as an introduction to, and
Rotational Hitting, an increasingly popular approach to
describing, explaining, and teaching the
The Three Approaches to Hitting
In my experience, there are three major, and different, approaches
to teaching the swing...
In my experience, Linear Hitting and Extension
Hitting are what most people are taught -- Extension Hitting
is what I was taught -- but more and more people are being
taught, and are talking about, Rotational Hitting.
Linear Hitting isn't just a
made-up term. Instead, Linear Hitting is a widely-taught, but in my experience problematic, approach to
I discuss the logical foundation of Linear
...and I discuss Linear Hitting in greater depth in...
...but let me touch upon those ideas and differences briefly.
While many people disagree about exactly what Linear Hitting
is, when I think of Linear Hitting, I think of an approach to
hitting that is focused on going directly to the ball and getting power from the arms, hands,
Some telltales of Linear Hitting are the
use of cues like...
- A straight line is the shortest distance between
- A to C hand path.
- Throw your hands at the ball.
- Pop your wrists at contact.
The clip below is a good example of what proponents of Linear
Hitting want their students to do. Notice how the batter pushes his hands to the ball in a linear
fashion and then pops his wrists through the Point of Contact (POC).
Hands To The Ball
The biggest problem with Linear Hitting is that no more than a few current major league
baseball players (e.g. Ichiro Suzuki and
Derek Jeter) swing in a way that even
resembles what Linear Hitting instructors advocate.
In fact, and as I explain at length in my piece on
The Myth of the A to
C Swing, two of the biggest proponents of Linear Hitting --
Don Mattingly and Tony Gwynn -- broke pretty much every rule that
they now preach.
Another characteristic of a purely linear approach to hitting
is the emphasis on transferring the weight from the front foot to
the back foot and keeping the hips closed into contact.
The defining cue of the philosophy of Extension Hitting, which is
a big favorite of baseball television color commentators, is that
you should be at full extensin at the point of contact and
making what is known as the Power V. That's what I was taught,
and it's what ruined my swing.
Extension Hitting grew out of the words and
pictures in Charley Lau Sr.'s book The Art of Hitting .300.
Demonstrating Extension and the
Power V at
the Point Of Contact
Scattered throughout Charley Lau Sr.'s book are a number of
pictures, like the one above, of George Brett demonstrating
extension and the Power V at the point of contact. While some
people argue that Charley Lau Sr. didn't actually intend for people to
look like this at the POC on every swing, the fact is that this is how people
tend to interpret his work and teach their students to hit.
There's also the fact that on page 93 of his his book,
At the moment of contact, the bat should
be straight out in front of you, your arms should be
The problem is that this isn't what most major league
George Brett, actually look like at the Point Of Contact in their
Rotational Hitting is an increasingly popular approach to teaching hitting that
is based on the ideas contained in Ted Williams' book
The Science of Hitting.
Rotational Hitting involves learning how to power the
swing with the entire body -- and in particular the large
muscles of The Core -- rather than just the arms, wrists,
Rotational Hitting will sometimes result in
increased numbers of home runs, the idea is to just try to hit the ball hard.
That is because
a hard-hit ball -- even if it is hit on the ground -- is
hard to make a play on because it's moving fast.
Mike Epstein & Rotational Hitting
Mike Epstein is one person who is closely associated with
Rotational Hitting and who popularized the term.
As a result, when you talk about Rotational Hitting with people, in many cases
what is going to come to mind -- both good and bad -- is how Mike Epstein teaches hitting.
when Dave Hudgens describes the problem with
Rotational Hitting and when people grill me about Rotational
Hitting as they do in my
Hitting FAQ, they are generally reacting to, and
criticizing, how Mike Epstein teaches Rotational Hitting.
The problem is that, while Mike Epstein's approach to teaching
hitting was a vast improvement over Linear Hitting and
Hitting, as many people have pointed out there remain a
number of differences between...
- What kids are being taught by Mike Epstein and his instructors.
- What the best baseball and fast-pitch softball hitters actually do.
In my experience, what Mike Epstein and his instructors produce is a swing that resembles, but at the core is significantly
the high-level swing.
Among other things, one of the chief problems with what Mike
Epstein teaches is that there is little to no stride. Instead,
Mike Epstein's hitters tend to just spin in place. While that
works at the lower levels and with hotter bats, as
Pete Kozma's Swing demonstrates, the pure rotational
approach doesn't work at the highest levels of baseball.
In my opinion, Mike Epstein either didn't completely understand
Ted Williams' ideas or, more likely, in an effort to deal with
problems like lunging, stripped Ted Williams' approach down too
far and took out the thing that is its true secret.
The result is an approach to teaching hitting that is better
than Linear Hitting and Extension Hitting but that doesn't deliver
the results that can be achieved by thoroughly understanding and
applying Ted Williams' ideas.
Beyond Mike Epstein
As I explain in greater detail in my discussion of
the strengths and weaknesses of Mike Epstein's
system, when my older son started to struggle with his hitting,
everyone I knew told me to get Mike Epstein's books, CDs, and DVDs. I did,
and found them to be a significant advance over the
Extension Hitting nonsense that I had been
taught about hitting.
However, while my older son's swing improved significantly, he continued to struggle with
fundamental problems like Bat Drag,
which Mike Epstein's materials didn't alert me to or help me with.
As a result, I decided that I had to go beyond Mike
Epstein's materials and educate myself on what the
best hitters actually do.
The High-Level Swing
Since 2006, I have been studying the swings of the best
baseball and fast-pitch softball players and working to understand
As part of that process, I have collected large amounts of
high-quality, HD and super slow motion video of the best baseball
and fast pitch softball players.
The goal is to bring Rotational Hitting instruction closer to its roots; to what
Ted Williams talked about in
The Science of Hitting and, more importantly, to how great hitters actually swing the bat.
Rotational Hitting 101 DVD
2008, I took much of the information that had been blogging about,
organized it, added to it, and put together
Rotational Hitting 101 and
client site. They reflect the lessons that have been learned
about the high-level swing over the past ten years. They build on
the strengths, but also address what in my experience are the
weaknesses, of Mike Epstein's approach to teaching hitting.
Since I first published Rotational Hitting 101, I have
shipped more than 2,000 copies of my DVD to people all over the
Torres, my first professional client.
Home Run to Right Field
2010 World Series
Andres used the information on my DVD, and in particular my
rebuild his swing and his entire approach to hitting. The result
was a swing that helped the San Francisco Giants win the 2010
World Series and that we continue to work to improve.
Major League Experience
isn't the only major league baseball player I have worked
At last count, I have three other clients in the major leagues,
two clients at AAA, one client at AA, and
two clients playing for independent minor league teams and
trying to get back on the road to the major leagues. I have also
worked with a number of D-1 college baseball and fast pitch
I don't give out the names of these players because I don't
want to get them in trouble with their coaches. While they, and I,
believe in what I teach, most of the time it contradicts what
their coaches are saying, so they have to keep it to themselves
and we have to work on the down low. If you are a minor leaguer
and are looking for help,
e-mail me and we can talk about how you can get access to my
client-only web site.