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Frequently-Asked Questions
About Rotational Hitting (FAQ)

I get lots of question about Rotational Hitting. As a result, I have put together this FAQ of answers to Frequently-Asked Questions about Rotational Hitting to try to address those questions.

Why should kids copy major leaguers? These men live in the weight room and spend hours upon hours playing and practicing. When kids say to me, "so and so doesn't hit like that..." I respond to them by saying, "well, when your forearms get as big as your head, you can hit however you want."

If you look at the swings of good young hitters, regardless of how old they are and whether they are male or female, you will see that they do the same basic thing as major leaguers.

The High-Level Swing

The High-Level Swing

The High-Level Swing

The High-Level Swing

The High-Level Swing

The High-Level Swing

That is because the physics are the same; a swing is either efficient or it isn't and a rotational swing is the most efficient swing.

The High-Level Swing

The High-Level Swing

The High-Level Swing

The High-Level Swing

Of course, kids and females don't have the same levels of strength as adult male baseball players, but that's why they swing lighter bats and player in smaller ballparks. That evens things out and lets kids and females use the same mechanics as major leaguers.

Isn't Rotational Hitting only appropriate for power hitters?

No. Studies show that one key to hitting for average is hitting the ball hard. That is because the harder you hit the ball, the faster it gets through the infield or outfield and the harder it is for the fielders to make a play on the ball. When I work with hitters, I don't explicitly teach them to try to hit home runs. Instead, I teach them to just hit the ball solidly and well. Home runs will happen if they do everything perfectly.

What major league hitters use Rotational Hitting?

Virtually every major league hitter's swing is consistent with the principles of Rotational Hitting. The only significant exception is Ichiro Suzuki, and that is only when he is trying to slap an outside pitch. Pitch Ichiro Suzuki inside and he will use a textbook rotational swing.

At what age can you start teaching kids about the high-level swing?

While most kids aren't going to be able to work on the higher-level concepts before 5th grade or so, it's never too early to start teaching kids how to rotate well and to swing with their entire bodies and not just their arms.

Aren't the linear and extension approaches to hitting equally valid alternatives for some players?

No.

While they may work at the lowest levels of baseball and softball, they do not scale. In fact, in many cases they stop working beyond 4th grade. That is why you don't see see linear hand paths and extension at the Point Of Contact (POC) in good major league swings. Generally, the only time you do see linear hand paths and extension at the POC is when a hitter is fooled or is making an adjustment.

I think that Dave Hudgens does a pretty good job explaining the differences between Rotational Hitting and Linear Hitting. What do you think of his work?

I think that Dave Hudgens buys into some fairly common, but incorrect, misconceptions about what Rotational Hitting is and what a good swing actually looks like. I discuss this in my piece Analyzing Dave Hudgens' Views on Hitting.

Regarding the Lau quote on your piece about Rotational Hitting...

At the moment of contact, the bat should be straight out in front of you, your arms should be fully extended...

...doesn't that Lau quote have validity?

The reason why I don't think I'm misinterpreting that quote -- as I have been accused of in the past -- is that it corresponds with all of the posed pictures of George Brett that you will find in Charley Lau Sr.'s book The Art of Hitting .300. The position that you see in the picture below...

George Brett Extension at the POC

George Brett Demonstrating
Extension at the Point Of Contact

 ...is also what I was taught, and what many people are being taught, as the desired position at the Point Of Contact of every swing (and not just pitches outside).

The problem is that what Charley Lau Sr. advocates isn't what you see in the swings of the best hitters. The picture above of George Brett, where he is demonstrating what a hitter should look like at the Point Of Contact, looks nothing like the picture below of Albert Pujols at the Point Of Contact.

Albert Pujols Swing

Albert Pujols

As I understand Lau, for maximum bat acceleration start with a small turn radius, the bat at 45 or less (see George Brett and Andres Torres) to the arms "fully extended" for maximum velocity at contact (see Ted Williams). In golf it's called "restoring the radius."

If Lau said that, then he was wrong.

Extending at the Point Of Contact isn't going to reduce the radius and speed up the swing. Rather, it's going to increase the radius and slow down the swing.

That is the point of the spinning ice skater analogy that is so often used; when the arms come in, the ice skater rotates faster and, when the arms go out, the ice skater rotates slower.

That's also why, rather than seeing Extension at the Point Of Contact, you generally see Connection at the Point Of Contact and don't see Extension until the hitter is well into their follow-through.

This picture of Jason Giambi...

Jason Giambi Swing

Jason Giambi

...is what Lau had in mind. But my question was of the two pictures, the one you posted of Pujols with his arms pulled in, or Giambi, with his arms extended which one would produce the most bat speed, all other things being equal. Or, another way of putting it, would Pujols have more bat speed (power) if he looked like Giambi. Also, it is bad for a coach to teach full extension at contact, but it would be equally as bad or worse for a coach to teach arms pulled in. The hands follow the head and the arms will extend accordingly.

The problem with trying to do what Giambi is doing on every swing is that you are going to reduce your adjustability and won't be able to hit balls over the inner half of the plate and still keep them fair. Instead, you would pull hook everything inside. You also won't be able to adjust to and hit quality off-speed pitching.

Jason Giambi Swing

Jason Giambi

That is why Jason Giambi doesn't extend on every pitch. Instead, he extends his arms or pulls them in depending on the location of the pitch; he extends more on pitches outside and stays tightly connected on pitches inside.

Jason Giambi Swing

Jason Giambi

In general, hitters tend to hit the ball harder when their arms are closer in to their body because that allows them to rotate faster. Thus the phrase, "Baseball history is made over the inner half of the plate."

You wrote on your web site, "That's why, rather than seeing Extension at the Point Of Contact, you generally see Connection at the Point Of Contact and don't see Extension until the hitter is well into their follow-through." Charlie Lau would agree. He writes on page 29 that even with the best batter it full extension will only happen 1 of 100 swings. This is because the degree of extension at the point of contact varies and is a function of pitch location and the intent of the batter.  For example on a outside pitch a batter has to extend to hit the ball.  On an inside pitch the batter could chose to let the ball get in on him and not extend at contact (like many of the pictures of Pujols you show), or he could, like Ted Williams, hit the ball way in front and extend.  By the way, Williams calls the type of swings you usually show as swinging "inside out" which, according to him,  is used only in special circumstance.

First, many people believe -- or at least say and/or would want you to believe -- that proponents of Rotational Hitting believe and teach that hitters should be connected on every swing and never extend at the Point Of Contact.

That's not accurate (at least as far as I am concerned).

The fact is that extension at the Point Of Contact is part of how hitters adjust to hit pitches over the outer part of the strike zone.

Matt Holliday Swing

Matt Holliday's Extension

The problem with how Lau's work is interpreted is that many people teach that hitters should reach full extension on every swing, regardless of whether the pitch is inside or outside.

That is called making the Power V at the Point Of Contact.

Second, I am very familiar with the work of both Lau's, having read Charley Sr.'s book and viewed his videotapes and having spent the weekend talking hitting with Charley Jr. I can't find any such statement about extension on page 29 of any of their books that I have. I assume that is why the work of the Lau's is (mis)interpreted as it is.

I had some questions about extension.

First, my understanding of why people emphasis full extension is so that when the ball makes contact it is at its maximum velocity.

Unfortunately, the physics on this are wrong.

Extending at contact will slow the bat down, not speed it up.

You don't want hitters decelerating the bat at impact, even a little.

That's true, but extending won't guarantee this.

Doesn't extension keep the barrel of the bat in the hitting zone a tad longer.

 Yes, but if you try to extend on every swing, then you lose the ability to make this adjustment. For it to work, you have to reserve it for when you are fooled by a good off-speed pitch.

Isn't the point of extension like when you coach your players to run hard through the 1st base (extend) and not to slow down until you are by the bag. Its just faster!

The problem is that this analogy doesn't work because the physics are totally different.

Running through the base means extending your maximum velocity through the base. However, when running you can maintain peak velocity for an extended period of time.

The same isn't true of the swing because it relies on a mechanical trick (the whip effect due to the curved hand path) rather than pure muscular activity.

Doesn't Rotational Hitting encourage big uppercuts?

No.

Rotational Hitting does encourage an uppercut, but only a slight uppercut.

The goal is for the plane of the swing to match the plane of the pitch. Since every pitches crosses the plate on a slight downward angle, the way to hit pitches squarely is to swing with a slight uppercut. In general, that means swinging with a slight (10 degree) uppercut and not a dramatic (45 degree) uppercut. The only time a rotational hitter will swing with a significant uppercut is when they are trying to hit a rapidly-dropping, 12-6 curveball.

I am a coach of a 16u select travel baseball team. I have a hitting instructor in our area teaching some of the players to swing down on the ball or to swing like you are chopping wood. Is this correct?

No.

That's going to minimize the time that the planes of the barrel and the ball cross and reduce the chance that they will make contact.

Like Ted Williams said, good hitters swing with a slight uppercut, because that lets them match the plane of the swing to the plane of the pitch.

Won't an uppercut lead to dropping the back shoulder and pop-ups?

Every good hitter drops their back shoulder at least a bit because that is how you swing with a slight uppercut and match the plane of the swing to the plane of the pitch. Dropping the back shoulder is also tied into the way that good hitters adjust to hit balls down in the strike zone.

When the upper body commits to the pitch, the front side moves where? Out. Find me one player that has been successful that believes it is OK for your front shoulder to come out, and I won't believe they were successful.

I don't know whether any good hitters believe that it's OK for the front shoulder to come out or not, but video shows that the front shoulder always comes out and around.

Albert Pujols Swing

Albert Pujols' Front Shoulder

Rotational Hitting offers no time to adjust to a pitch that is not middle to middle in. Because the chest of the hitter is not over the plate, they can't cover the outside part of the plate. This is the biggest advantage of linear hitting. People who stay over the plate can cover the plate.

One of the keys of Rotational Hitting is that, and as Ted Williams said, the hips lead the hands (and thus the shoulders). That means that, while the hitter's hips may be open, their shoulders will stay closed through the start of the swing.

Jeff Clement Swing

Jeff Clement's Rotation

That keeps the front shoulder from flying open too early and lets the hitter hit the outside pitch. It also boosts the power output of their swing.

If the hips open then the hands will follow. On an outside pitch, the hips must remain closed in order to hit it to the opposite side of the field.

Your statement, and belief, doesn't match up with reality.

The clip below shows Jose Bautista hitting a home run to right field. If you watch his belt buckle, you will see that his hips rotate 90 to 100 degrees.

Jose Bautista Swing

Jose Bautista's Hip Rotation

The fact is that the hips and the shoulders are quite capable of moving independently; just because the hips rotate, it doesn't mean that the hands can't make the necessary adjustment outside.

Matt Holliday Swing

Matt Holliday's Hip Rotation

Here is a picture of Matt Holliday hitting a home run to the opposite field. Notice how his hips are completely open, and his belt buckle is rotated beyond the pitcher. However, he was still able to hit this pitch because he held his hands and his shoulders back while his hips opened.

One problem with hitting rotationally, is once you commit, all your weight has already been transferred and you are left with just upper body strength to hit a change up or curve ball. When your weight transfer goes back to the catcher and forward to the pitcher...you can adjust to multiple pitches.

While some people equate Rotational Hitting with a no-stride swing, the fact is that properly-coached Rotational Hitters are taught how and when to transfer their weight in order to adjust to the speed of the pitch.

The hips can only rotate as a result of a weight transfer.

The hips can very easily rotate without a weight transfer. That's how you make a hula hoop work, for example.

Also, while people like Mike Epstein do not teach a stride when they teach Rotational Hitting, that doesn't mean that that is the right way to teach Rotational Hitting.

When I teach Rotational Hitting I teach at least a weight shift, if not a stride. In fact, one reason I put together my Rotational Hitting 101 DVD was to address what I believe are the weaknesses of how Mike Epstein teaches Rotational Hitting and to explain how I think Rotational Hitting should be taught.

If you transfer weight, and rotate your hips, then all you have left is your upper body to hit with when a change up comes. You can't have both.

That is true, which is why it's important that hitters know how to delay the planting of their front heel. It's also one reason why Albert Pujols struggled during the first few months of 2011.

To increase bat speed rotation of the torso has to slow down so that energy can be transferred to the arms and bat. Much like a car in a collision, the sudden decrease of velocity is what propels the passenger forward. During the swing power is initiated with the lateral weight shift of the batter with the front leg acting as a brake. The swing and any torso rotation is a result of the weight shift braced by the front leg.  Look at a picture of a swing taken at normal speed.  The hips are always clear but the bat is a blur.

First, if the only way to rotate the torso is by slamming it into a rigid front leg, then how are minimal to no stride hitters successful?

The truth is that a stride and weight shift can help boost the power of rotation (but at a cost). The hips are perfectly capable of rotating on their own, which is why we can walk, among other things.

Second, the reason whip the hips are clear but the bat is blurred is because the bat is moving much faster than the hips, not because the hips aren't moving. If you compare the position of a hitter's hips at the start of their swing and at the point of contact, you will always see significant rotation.

Jose Bautista Swing

Jose Bautista's Hip Rotation

It's important to hit the ball hard...yes. But it's also important to hit the ball where it is pitched. That means you have to cover the plate. If what you teach cover's hitting the ball hard to the opposite field...than I am fine with it (but I would argue you can't do that if your front side comes out). The girls I teach...can't.

Good hitters know how to delay the rotation of the hips and shoulder in order to be able to cover the whole plate. They also know the right way to use their arms to cover the entire plate.

I read in your article that rotational hitting involves using the entire body and linear hitting doesn't incorporate large muscles. I disagree with that thought. Females have to use our legs to have any power. It is when the transfer of weight, and proper hands come together...with the proper TIMING...in addition to the power provided by the pitcher...that a ball is hit hard.

By the entire body, I mean the hips and the core rather than just the arms (and I explicitly say so in my Rotational Hitting 101 DVD).

The whole reason I teach Rotational Hitting to females is because it lets them tap into the muscles of the core, and everyone who can walk has relatively strong core muscles.

The problem with linear hitting, at least how it's taught around here, is that it's taught as an extremely arm-y approach where the use of the core is minimized.

If what you teach involves being able to adjust to different speeds...then I am fine with it. But the girls that come see me...who have been taught to commit with their hands and hips...have nothing left when they see a change up.

Then they are not being taught correctly.

Part of the problem is that a lot of what is being sold as Rotational Hitting bears little to no resemblance to the High-Level Swing and what the best hitters actually do.

Baseball is very similar to other sports. Golf. Boxing. Both (at the pro level) involve rotation...but a boxer steps toward his target before his hips unleash. A golfer may bring his club behind his head...but around the point of contact is linear. It's the same...it all carries over. Can you imagine if a pitcher was being taught to pitch in a way where his front foot or glove comes off the mound to the side...to make sure his back hip comes through? We want to hit in a way where we have control, strength, balance, and power.

Like baseball, boxers use a linear stride to boost the force of their rotation; linear translation gets turned into rotation.

I don't think there's any linear component to golf; it's as purely rotational as you can get, and more so than baseball.

My cousin is a pro at Pinehurst and talks about the linear component of golf. It is also discussed on this site. Check it out. I think the same is true with the POC in baseball. The correct path of the golf swing is a linear path which means the club head travels along the target line for a length of time.

The head of a golf club never moves linearly; it's always rotating around the hands.

Doesn't rotation happen as a result of an aggressive swing? I don't believe that it needs to be taught. It happens naturally. In fact, I believe our tenancy is to OVER rotate.

No.

It's quite possible to move linearly and still never rotate. That is because it's possible to move, and rotate, the legs without rotating the hips.

What's more, in my experience with kids, I see far more problems with too little rotation -- and top-down, arm-y swings -- than problems with too much rotation.

In general, I think a big part of the problem is that people haven't looked closely enough at good video.

Just because Ted Williams said the hips lead the hands, doesn't mean that is true. Tony Gwynn says the hands lead. That keeps their front shoulder from flying open too early and helps to boost the power output of their swing.

Video evidence clearly demonstrates that Ted Williams was right. In every good swing, the hips lead the hands (and the shoulders).

Tony Gwynn Swing

Tony Gwynn's Swing

If you look at the swing above of Tony Gwynn, you will see his hips rotate ahead of his hands (and his shoulders).

In general, Tony Gwynn doesn't have a good understanding of what his of swing looked like, I assume because of the blurring in the video equipment that he used. For instance, Tony Gwynn rails against a flaw called a loop in the swing where the barrel drops below the hands, but Gwynn very clearly had a loop in his swing.

Don Mattingly Swing

Don Mattingly's Swing

The same is true of Don Mattingly. He teaches that hitters should keep the barrel above their hands, but he very clearly didn't do that in his own swing. Instead, the barrel drops well below his hands.

Does the New BBCOR Bat Standard Make Rotational Hitting More Important?

Absolutely.

The BBCOR (Batted Ball Coefficient Of Restitution) standard will reduce, and even out, the performance of bats, perhaps by as much as 20%. As a result, hitters will no longer be able to get a power boost just by buying the latest "hot" bat. Instead, the quality of one's swing will become more important, and understanding Rotational Hitting is the key to developing a good swing.

Do You Have Any Presentations or Other Materials That Will Help me Sell Rotational Hitting to my Players,
players' Parents, and Organization?

Everyone who buys my Rotational Hitting 101 DVD will get access to my client-only web site. That gives you access to client-only materials, including presentations and other tools that will help you sell Rotational Hitting to your players, players' parents, and/or organization.

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