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Epstein - lead-arm

Posted by: Jack Mankin (MrBatspeed@aol.com) on Tue Oct 18 15:05:54 2005

>>> Epstein of course is one of the primary proponents of rotational hitting and seems to talk about Batspeed.com in his forums with great respect, but he seems wary of a "straight elbow" because it may lead to "barring" and "hitting around the ball." I think you elsewhere discuss that it's not fatal if the front elbow is slightly bent as you launch so long as it's firm -- to make sure you don't have a disconnect between the hips and the arms needed to start the CHP. Do I have this right? If so, any perceived "differences" between you and him on this point may be actually be slight. <<<

Hi John

Ted Williams was one of the greatest hitters that ever played the game. But Ted did not want to only be recognized for his accomplishments at the plate. He also wanted to be recognized for his contributions to the science of hitting. However, when he wrote his book "The Science of Hitting," the whole baseball world was locked into the premise that the energy for the swing came from the forward movement of body mass (linear kinetic energy).

Ted Williams proclaimed in his book that the energy for the swing did not come from the forward movement of the body. It was actually generated from the rotation of the body about a fixed axis. This break from traditional teaching brought forth the wrath of the batting experts. They said his misguided theories would bring harm to the performance of players who listened to him.

We now know that Ted was right and Mike Epstein has been a leading (if not the leading) proponent of rotation around a fixed axis. I applaud Mike for helping countless coaches around the country to understand the true source of the swing?s energy. However, as I stated earlier, I am not sure what his present views are, but in the past there have been substantial differences in the mechanics we teach to transfer that rotational energy into bat speed.

John, keep in mind that decades ago when batting authorities made the terms "barring", "hitting around the ball", "casting," "spinning," etc., taboo, they did so believing the bat was brought to contact by a "Crack of the Whip" type action. They believed that when a batter transferred his weight forward and extended his hands in a straight line, the bat-head would come flying around like popping a towel (or whip).

Therefore, all those terms were established to promote a straight (A to B) extension of the hands rather than allowing them to follow a circular path. We now know that there is no "whip effect" that occurs from a straight extension of the hands. The bat-head is accelerated around from a "pendulum effect" induced when the hands take a circular path.

Mike asks, "Do we actually teach what we see"? Video analysis of great hitters show: They rotate about a fixed axis ("Spinning"). Many rotate with a straight lead-arm ("Barring"). They take their hands in a CHP ("Casting"). Many pull most pitches ("Hitting Around the Ball.") --- Yet, the negative connotations surrounding these terms have been so ingrained into our psyche that some cannot bring themselves to acknowledge what they actually see.

Note: I am starting a new thread because others may wish to weigh in on this subject.

Jack Mankin


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