Rotational Hitting 101
Rotational Hitting is a term that is used by Mike Epstein
and his followers to describe his interpretation and implementation of Ted Williams' ideas
In my (direct) experience, while Mike Epstein's approach to
teaching hitting is a
significant advance over the teachings of Charley Lau and his followers
-- primarily Walk Hriniak -- it remains lacking. That is in large part
because critical parts of Ted Williams' ideas and swing aren't
addressed by Mike Epstein. What's more, in a few cases what Mike Epstein
teaches runs counter to or inhibits what Ted Williams advocated
and (actually) did.
Rotational Hitting 101 DVD was my first attempt to
address this problem; to more accurately discuss and spread Ted
Williams' ideas about hitting and inform people about how he moved
and why. I have since built a
where I discuss my up-to-the-minute findings and how they apply to
and are exhibited by the best active players.
Major league ballplayers who have used my Rotational
Hitting 101 DVD to help advance their careers include
Torres, shown above hitting a home run during the 2010 World
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, to keep my hips closed
into contact, and 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.
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.
In my case, that meant studying what I was taught, studying what
Mike Epstein teaches, and studying what the best baseball players
Why Rotational Hitting?
To understand why the term "Rotational Hitting" made
-- and still
makes -- sense, you have to understand what Charley Lau and his
disciples like Walt Hriniak were teaching during Mike Epstein's day and,
in many cases,
In sum, the Lau approach, at least when it comes to the lower
body, is that all the power comes from the stride. As you can see
in the clip above of Greg Luzinski, which was taken from Charley
Lau's DVD, the hips stay
closed into the Point Of Contact. There is no separation or
torque. The hips, shoulders, and hands move together because it is
believed that any rotation of the hips will cause the front
shoulder to fly open.
Joe Thurston's swing was the closest I've ever seen to a
textbook Lau swing in a (more) recent player,
and he barely made it work in the major leagues.
There's no question that these are both hideously ugly swings
and bear no resemblance to the swings of greats like Babe Ruth,
Ted Williams, and Joe DiMaggio. The problem is that, in my
opinion, Mike Epstein over-corrected. His
implementation of the concept of Rotational Hitting went too far;
in trying to solve the problem of lunging, he removed pretty much
every trace of a linear component from the swing and made it
pretty much exclusively linear. As a result,
Mike Epstein trained or inspired hitters tend to move differently than
most major-league hitters and usually have problems hitting at the
higher levels as a result.
Mike Epstein & Rotational Hitting
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 Charley Lau's, 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
nonsense 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.