Bonds, Manny, A Rod, and Pujols are all Students of Charlie Lau's Hitting Style??

by Alan kastner

Charlie Lau

Charlie Lau

I spoke to Bobby Bonds who now lives in NJ.

Bobby Bonds confirmed that both Bobby and Barry hit exactly like Gwynn describes. Bobby said that his father did as well and his uncle Willie Mays.

Charlie Lau also teaches the bottom hand pulls the knob to the ball and is the dominate power hand. Charlie also teaches that the top hand goes along for the ride and releases.

Further proof is that Arod was taught by Charlie Lau Jr. Read this article that shows that Pujols and Arod have the Charlie Lau swing. Tony La Russa also says that Pujols is a Charlie Lau hitter.

Stroke of Genius

Anyone that has been taught by Charlie Lau or Charlie Lau Jr., knows that they teach you how to use your bottom hand to get the power, the top hand goes along for the ride. This fact is also in Charlie Lau's book.

Most people and coaches that have never been taught how to do this do not believe it works but it does work very well. Other Lau hitters are Wade Boggs, Gwynn, Frank Thomas, Griffey, Arod, Bonds, Manny Ramirez, Carew and many other great hitters. All use the bottom hand as the power hand.

You should try learning the swing from Charlie Lau and then you will know the truth.

Swing Smarter Response:
First Alan, I want to thank you for sharing wisdom of the great Charlie Lau, in which I did do quite a bit of studying back in Junior High and High School.

Before I start to rant on, I want you to know, there's NOT one "right" hitting philosophy...Charlie's style works for some, Epstein's works for others, and Jaime Cevallo's Positional Hitting may work for the rest. I think each have their own weaknesses and aren't the end-all-be-all of hitting philosophies.

If you had two guys research the heck out of each opposing argument for a certain swing philosophy for a 24 hour period, you'd have two very compelling arguments "for" and "against."

When a "hitting guru" takes a stand on a certain way of thinking, they're going to get backlash...evidenced in the above referenced article.

Please note, these detractors aren't a few freedom fries short of a Happy Meal either...

Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg was quoted as saying, "Lau screwed up more hitters than anyone."

But the most damaging hacks came from Williams, the last man to hit .400 and arguably the greatest hitter the game has seen. Williams believed you had to rotate the body to get the head of the bat out in front, a snapping motion to open the hips to keep an inside pitch fair and pull it with power. He famously said Lau's theories set hitting back 25 years.

"Charley liked a lot of head movement where the body moves forward and I know for a fact that the more your head moves the less you see the ball," says Reggie Smith.

Smith believes in the stationary stance and turning around on your back leg, reducing the number of variables that can go wrong. He learned efficiency from Williams as well as the importance of maintaining balance, techniques he says he quantified in the Centinela Biomechanics lab in Inglewood, Calif.

The question at hand, you raised Alan, is the fact the bottom hand is taught to be the power hand in Lau's teaching. You told me to "try learning the swing from Charlie Lau and then you will know the truth."

It might be what Lau taught, I gave Lau's style a whirl for a few months my Freshman year in High School, but I had scrap it because it didn't work for me.

To me, it didn't make sense because our bodies are stronger pushing, than we are pulling...if you didn't have help, would you rather push a heavy piece of furniture across the room or pull it?

On top hand versus bottom hand dominance,

I know I said otherwise in the Tony Gwynn article, but this was written before my revelation into Positional Hitting about 8 weeks ago...the question of which hand is the power hand is irrelevant because the hips are what initiate and drive the arms around our center axis. The elbows hug tight to the body in order to spin efficiently like an ice skater who wants to spin faster by pulling her arms in.

During the Impact Phase of the swing, the top hand will be bent less than 90 degrees and leveraged against the body, while the bottom arm will be extended during Area of Impact, also hugging close to the body, this would be like the hitter clutching a hand towel under the front armpit.

The moment the elbows detach, we lose power, and this should be well after Impact.

This position allows acceleration of the upper body behind the hips, and it leverages a hitter's mass (core and hips) to transfer force through the baseball.

One other thing, the article mentions over and over that because A Rod, Pujols, and Bonds release their top hand after contact this is a "Lau Swing." Lau may teach this but it doesn't mean their whole swing is buttered in his secret sauce (which their swings most certainly are NOT).

Also, I didn't see once where the article pointed out bottom hand dominance by these mammoth hitters, in which you suggest.

Getting back to the original Swing Smarter article...

In the Bonds photo clips, Bonds has "0" weight shift, which is one of "Lau's" Principals. In addition, he has NO head movement and his centerline doesn't move forward...this is all contrary to Lau's teachings.

These guys' (Pujols, A Rod, Bonds, etc.) swings are a mish-mash, NOT the complete Charlie Lau story. The swing is neither linear (Lau) or rotational (Epstein), it's a combination of both.
Heck I like Jim Lefebvre's version of the swing in his book The Making of a Hitter better than both of these hitting gurus.

George Brett says in the article, in order to have a "Lau Swing" you have to:

"have a little rhythm, get extension, take the top hand off and get a good weight shift."

He got 50% of it right, the only Lau component different from any other swing philosophy is the weight shift part, and maybe a "need" to take the top hand off the bat.

The bottom line?

If Lau's style of hitting works for a kid, then fine, but please understand it isn't the end-all-be-all.

I personally like what Jaime Cevallos says about Positional Hitting because, to me, I like the benefits of getting mass (our core and hips) behind the baseball...but I don't agree with everything he says on the subject. As a hitting coach, we have to prepare to offer another solution to a young hitter who may not "get it."

I think you'd agree :)

Thanks for your thoughts on hitting, I truly appreciate it.

Comments for Bonds, Manny, A Rod, and Pujols are all Students of Charlie Lau's Hitting Style??

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Apr 02, 2018
Mechanics of late entry NEW
by: Vaffangool

Obviously if you're pulling the bat with your bottom (weaker) hand, it's like a backhand in tennis—you might not get as much power behind the ball, but you get more time to set up your swing, improving your chances of (1) tracking delivery; (2) applying proper mechanics; and (3) keping the ball inbounds.

Apr 02, 2018
Mechanics of late entry NEW
by: Anonymous

Obviously if you're pulling the bat with your bottom (weaker) hand, it's like a backhand in tennis—you might not get as much power behind the ball, but you get more time to set up your swing, improving your chances of (1) tracking delivery; (2) applying proper mechanics; and (3) keping the ball inbounds.

Jun 17, 2015
Understand before you speak
by: Randy Ski

If you don't fully understand the laws of hitting as laid out by Charlie Lau, then don't speak badly about them! By releasing your top hand, you allow the bat to travel through the ball for a longer period of time. That is called "lead arm extension" one of the most important parts of Charlie's teachings. Science proves this to be true. The longer the bat can stay in the zone, the further the ball will travel. If our arms were 9 feet long, we could hit the ball further than if our arms were 1 foot long. Longer lever gives more leverage. You need to understand what your talking about before you even consider talking junk about Charlie Lau's teachings. He and his father spent many hours studying slow motion video. When you have studied to the capacity that they have, and come up with some different results or teachings, then I will listen to you. Truth is that you can't!! Look at the greatest homerun hitter ever Hank Aaron. His weight shifts completely to the front foot. You can see pictures of him striking the baseball with his back foot completely off the ground! The swing goes forward, not backward. Pulling the baseball bat is absolutely the correct way of thinking, not pushing the baseball bat. Were talking about a baseball bat not a piece of Gezzzz. I could argue these points over and over and back them up with truth not "what works for this guy or that guy philosphy"

Jan 28, 2015
Power hand
by: Anonymous

If the top hand is the power hand how come when doing one arm drills I can hit the ball further with my bottom hand

Nov 10, 2014
We have video AND science
by: Joey from

@Diogenes: I totally agree. AND not only do we have access to the slowest motion analysis software, but we also have the science of human movement. The latter is where we should focus first, then follow up with video analysis. Hitting is a hybrid of linear and rotational. Science doesn't lie.

Nov 09, 2014
Dark Ages of Hitting
by: Diogenes

The biggest impediment to good hitting information is all the coaches who taught it wrong for 30 or 40 years. How can they backtrack and admit they had it all wrong? Well, most can't. That is why we have revisionist history in coaching hitting. It's why we have hybrid theories: rotational/linear.

There are places where mentioning rotational hitting are akin to fighting words. It's crazy. We all have access to the video now. The video is the proof, not what someone says they do or don't do. A picture is worth a thousand words.

Apr 02, 2012
by: Anonymous

Hi.. As it turns out..YES! hitting is a combination of different methods. Whatever works for you; however, there is a component to hitting a baseball that NOBODY talks about. ROTATIONAL, LINEAR means nothing; everything's SO mixed up.. however, the BOTTOM LINE ---after all is said and done.. MASS X Acceleration = POWER!

Nobody's talking about it,though.
Okay, here's the deal:

"Natural Movement involves the entire body working as a whole, and it comes from an innate desire for the body to move. We don't have to learn to control the different parts of our body by consciously thinking about each part or muscle. Natural Movement is initiated simply by a thought.

Natural Movement uses the main part of the body, which is know as the Torso, Center, or Core, along with the legs and arms to move the entire body. When applied to athletics, Natural Movement results in a much more powerful movement than that produced by mechanics alone, but with seemingly less effort."

•Natural Movement is about the whole body working together.
•Natural Movement has more power with less effort.
Your torso, which is 66% of your body KEY"

Why doesn't anybody talk about it? ..because they haven't researched it--and the hitters who Do it, guys like Pujols, Bonds, A-Rod, Manny Ramirez, and Vladimir Guerrero.. are keeping it a "secret," OR apparently they don't KNOW they're doing it.

I find a LOT of good hitters (at ALL levels, even MLB) just don't know what they're doing, so they get into "slumps", until that "feeling" comes "back" (really muscular memory).

This is how it happened to me when I was playing; that is, until I understood WHAT I was doing and learned to correct myself.

Feb 18, 2012
Lau Bopnds Gwynn etc etc
by: Gsfan

Bobby Bonds was the Giants hitting coach and naturally Barrys hitting coach. But Barry didn't swing like Bobby, at all. And he definitely didn't swing like Gwynn. As you stated in regards to Positional Hitting (excellent) the ideal swing (Barry)is not powered by a top or bottom arm. It is legs and core supplying the power that makes its way to the barrel with everything else along for the ride. And Barry lets go of the bat with his top hand. Why? Certainly NOT because Lau said to. Barry was so far beyond Lau's understanding it is amazing. He let go in order to take away any chance of rolling his wrists. Same with Pujols.

Feb 07, 2011
Good point...
by: Joey from

Hey Robert,

Glad to hear from you, hope all is well with baseball starting up again...I can't wait!! Piggy backing on what you're saying, I think there has to be a balance between front arm/back arm in the swing. Yes, some kids will be over-using one arm over the other, so then we have to balance.

Now, that's with the Down & Through method of the hitting, in terms of Positional Hitting, I think the arms are irrelevant. If we're swinging the bat with our trunk, the arms are for the most part, along for the ride.

Great thoughts Robert!

Feb 05, 2011
To Pull, or not to pull, that's NOT the question.
by: Robert Canary

I believe all the above is correct.

I believe what we maybe overlooking is the timing of the pull with the forward arm (or lower hand).

Lau's method works fine if you start your pull early. I think the most effect swing will capitalize on both concepts. Which would get the core moving to generate your power and triple that power by exploding with a hard pull. This could be dangerous if your not concentrating on the follow through while crossing the impact zone.

On the other hand the results of an explosive pull could correct many players issues of NOT following through the impact zone.


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