80/20 Hitting Philosophy & Chasing the Rotational & Linear Rainbows
Hitting philosophy can differ from person to person but seems to be stuck on two main schools of thought, the swing is either rotational or linear, but NOT both. We beg to differ...
The objective of this hitting philosophy article is to uncover and debate some of the major points I hear well intentioned parents speak at their kids' baseball games, and so called "internet gurus" push online, such as...
- Is the swing rotational or linear?
- "Swing harder!" The harder the swing, the farther the ball goes,
- Is the "Get your back elbow up!" line healthy to teach young kids?
- How to increase bat speed, and
- Should the top/bottom hand do more of the work?
Oh, and by the way, there is NO "secret" to hitting with power and increasing bat speed, only being educated, and you have full access to that information here at Swing Smarter, so don't buy into other hitting websites selling hot air and hype. You'll find most of their information regurgitated info and most likely a let down.
Hitting philosophy is subjective, and based on opinion, I don't think there is a 100% right answer because every kids' role on a team and swing are different, like a thumbprint, so don't think I'm poo-pooing other established hitting philosophies or their respective philosophers.
So, let's get started...
Is the swing rotational or linear?
As we discussed in the rotational hitting article, Swing Smarter teaches a hybrid system, or ROTATIONEAR style of hitting. The waist down creates torque and rotational power, which is transferred into a linear hand path short to and through the ball.
We highly subscribe to the Down & Through method of hitting, essentially transferring energy efficiently at contact to produce backspin on the baseball, so the ball works for us, than the other way around.
We can now take kids who may not be as physically gifted as the rest and give them a Herculean broad sword to swing with.
A purely rotational OR linear swing is unhealthy, and only the gifted few (George Brett [linear], Barry Bonds [rotational], etc.) can have success at it. The rest of us must swing smarter.
"Swing harder!" The harder you swing the farther the ball goes
This is a caveman or gorilla hitting philosophy, it seems logical, but from an economy of motion perspective, this mode of play loses ground real fast. Tight muscles actually slow down the swing by counteracting the body's natural locomotion and momentum.
What should a hitter do when a hard throwing pitcher is dealing for the other team? Relax and swing easier, let the pop the pitcher provides work for you. Easier said than done, I know, but relaxing the muscles increase the leverage and power output crucial for smart swing tempo.
What do you think happens to a person's body when they "choke" in a clutch situation? So, then why try to swing that same way?
Less is more is a concept you'll here me repeat over and over. It's a constant battle to keep a calm during the middle of a storm. The good news is, there's training that will dramatically help in clutch hitting situations.
The best training to stay loose and increase bat speed is CORE training, speed & agilities, yoga, rock climbing, racquetball, and interval sprint workouts. Training is an integral part of the Swing Smarter hitting philosophy.
Also, building a trigger and developing a 15 minute routine, can get you into the zone before games or at bats, and is very helpful when you're environment is constantly changing, which is like, all the time in baseball!
Is the "back elbow up" concept healthy to teach kids?
I had to include the preceding into this hitting philosophy piece because this phrase is the most abused string of 3 words I've ever heard around the ball field.
Now, I know the people saying this word combo don't know any better, so I'll briefly explain why we don't use this and how it can hurt your kids' baseball future.
I don't know where the "back elbow up" phenomenon showed up, but I think it's thought to give the hitter magical powers...NOT true.
For starters, raising the back elbow in the stance phase of the swing creates tension (if done incorrectly) in the back shoulder...as we've already discussed, tension slows down the swing.
Secondly, once the hands start coming forward in the swing, the back elbow has to come down, so starting with the back elbow up is wasted movement and bad economy of motion.
Thirdly, it creates a very unhealthy upswing kids won't be successful with because they're NOT strong enough.
"But Major Leaguers do it," is what I hear...here's why you're comparing apples to oranges here:
- Major Leaguers are bigger and stronger,
- They've taken hundreds of thousands of swings more than the little kiddies,
- They've developed so much muscle memory, they can counteract the negatives associated with "back elbow up," and
- They are the best of the best hitters in the world...unfortunately, we have a better chance at winning the lottery than being a Major Leaguer.
I like to tell my young hitters to keep their hands above the elbows (that usually keeps the shoulders loose), and let the back elbow fall where it naturally wants to.
Is the top or bottom hand responsible for upper body power?
With the ROTATIONEAR hybrid hitting philosophy the upper body is responsible for only about 15% of the power...which is mostly produced from the hips down. As a hitter, the front side is leverage and the backside is always, always, always responsible for our push and power.
Ted Williams even said it, a hitter who bats left handed and throws right is put at a disadvantage because their most dominant (strong) hand is on the bottom instead of on top where we get the push.
Are we stronger pushing or pulling heavy equipment or furniture? I don't know about you, but I'd prefer pushing over pulling any day.
So, as the Swing Smarter hitting philosophy applies to top/bottom hand dominance, the power hand should be in back because it's the Down & Through push in the swing responsible for putting backspin on the ball.
The front hand is like the Rutter on a boat, steering the knob and front elbow down to the pitched ball, and is primarily responsible for getting us short to the baseball.
Short to it (bottom hand), long through it (top hand)!
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