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Corrected Email: Pujlos: Linear & Rotational

Posted by: Mickey McMahon (drmick3@cox.net) on Mon Apr 4 11:08:23 2011

Sorry, I left out the link to the first Pujlos clip I watched, which
was critical! See below and discard first email.


I've been having problems convincing my son-in-law (Charlie) that my
Little League grandson (Ben), aged 11, is not loading, at least, his
upper body (shoulders/core), much less his lower body. My son-in-law
is fanatically concerned that my grandson will undercut the ball and
seems to think if Ben only shifts his weight back to his right foot
he's loaded! Then, he wants Ben to hit a lot of grounders, which Ben
does, but 90% are weak and he's thrown out a lot.

I have thousands of hours hitting golf balls from age 11, when I cut
down on softball/baseball), which helped my competitive golf, winning
national and regional tournament from 12 to 17.

I spoke with Ben's coach (Charlie is his assistant coach) who is also
president of the Little League, about my concerns, particularly after
studying Jack's Batspeed.com website advocating rotational hitting,
which is very consistent with golf fundamentals, particularly in
regard to upper/lower body dynamics; they're just different in the
hitting area.

Ben's coach suggested I look at the swing of Albert Pujlos, which I
did, and have included links in the below-copied email reply I sent to
the coach); so you can see what I saw and comment. I also included a
link to Manny Ramirez that was particularly good at drawing the
downward path of the baseball and the "upward" swing plane of Manny
around impact.

I was particularly struck by how short and steep Pujlos's downswing
(initiation) was, and I understand Pujlos is a great high-ball hitter.
Since Charlie seems to emphasize instruction that has so many Linear
truisms. my thought was that Pujlos combines the Linear emphasis on
downward hitting as well as the power of rotational mechanics, hence
the subject title, I used above, "Pujlos: Linear & Rotation?"

Since my son-in-law, Charlie is fanatical about also keeping
instruction very simple and keeping as much of a kid's natural swing
as possible, I included two simple instructions that I think will go a
long way toward keeping a rotational swing but also a short, compact,
sharply downward motion.

Here's the email I sent to the coach:

I took you up on your suggestion in our last conversation to look at
Pujlos's hitting. Here's the slow motion clip I watched:


The below analysis of Pujlos hitting in batting practice is
fascinating, just because he combines both Linear and Rotational
hitting principles to gain 1) power 2) short bat swing hittng down!

How does he accomplish this with the right shoulder well below the
left into the hitting area, which you might think would cause him to
underhut the hitting plane? I'll tell you how.

He uses hips that are inwardly cocked as he loads (rotational), and he
holds his hands very high and BACK (simuultaneously) AS his lower
body shifts his head forward (reverse pivoit) . You can not only see
this in his right leg angling toward the pitcher but you can see his
head and right hip move forward EVEN THOUGH HIS HIPS ARE STILL COCKED!
His weight has not shifted amy more to the lead foot which would start
his hips uncoiling.

From my golf experiene (been there done rotation and hitting down for
thousands of hours) such a reverse pivot (lower body is angled
forward), I know that such a motion will cause a "flying right elbow,"
bad in golf, good in baseball if you want to hit down. So, from this
point Pujlos hasn't even started his "downswing" but all his coiled
muscles in his legs and torso are not only still rotated but angled

The next thing that caught my attention was how short and downward the
swing is from the time you start to see his hands move until they
reach, amazingly, just his stomach. The next frame shows the more
conventional rotational hitter at impact, i.e. more of an upward path.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, this solves the controversy over hitting down in
coaching Linear hitting and the "upward," rotational hitting of MLB

The best thing I have heard is that although the baseball is coming at
the hitter in a downward plane, you don't want the bat's path to get
below the ball's path for either a Linear or Rotational hitter.You do
want the bat to be in the plane of the ball's path as long as possible
(Manny Ramirez at 1.05 minutes into this video clearly draws the ball
and bat's plane coming together. http://www.youtube.com/watch?

The next hing that caught my attention is that right before impact the
bat's plane evens out and the right shoulder is extremely low and the
right elbow is extremely tucked in with the rotational axis tilted
backward (line drawn from lead foot through both Ramirez & Pujlos's
head). This could cause lots of undercutting, but for starting the
swing in such a downward arc, from which it can be adjusted, you/ve
got to screw up a lot to undercut. To me this is just the result of
tremendous unleashing of the coiled energy in the lower and upper
body's continuing to rotate around the center of gravity, about half-
way between the feet).

So, controversy solved! Now we can have both the power and fast bat
from rotational mechanics and the consistency of downward arcs until
the very last moment when we want the bat's plane to match the ball's

Now, how to teach this, simply!. A simple thought that can tie all
the above complexity.together, is, "During the pitcher's windup, just
reach the bat back to get ready to hit and start to stride forward as
you make your decision to hit or not. I know stirding is not in vogue
but bear with me a moment since there is a way to do it with no
stride. Its just a little more complicated, believe it or not!

If you look at Manny Ramirez's swing, you see a much higher lifting of
the left leg in a striding moition. However, once his left heel lands
on the ground, you see almost the same position as Pujlos, most
importantly the angle forward of both their right legs! Manny just has
less coil in his right leg when his foot hits the ground.

A mistake I see being made all the time is the idea that one can just
eliminate the stride and have kids assume the wider stance you see in
Ramirez after his foot hits the ground (now lookng like Pujlos).
That's true IF they keep their right leg angled forward in the same
position as Ramirez when his foot lands and Pujlos when his foot
lands. Its easier to see in a series of still photos of Pujlos at the
following link:

Watch the angle of the right leg stay the same, even while Pujlos's
left legs lifts. That keeps the rotational axis still in the center
between the two legs, but allows the upper and lower bodyto move in
opposite directions (torque) as the left foot truns back forward and
the foot lands. Notice that the upper body and bat are in the same
position from the still immediately before the foot lands, and
immediately after it lands. That's the same look that lets you know
the upper body is still stetching but the lower body hasn't overcome
those muscles and the bat's weight.

So, this is the simpler way to create torque but not stride forward
very much. The simple instruction for the wider stance with stride
elimination should be: "Keeping your right leg in place, move your
right hand toward your back shoulder and, at the same time, lift your
heel to load." If you hit, land your left foot and turn your whole
body through the ball as far as you can."

However, in these stills, Pujlos foot still winds up abouit 1 foot
forward from where he started before his foot lifted. That's not a
classical stride but there is an inward rotation of the left leg which
cannot happen without some inward roation or cocking of the lower
body. However, amazingly, the first video with the reverse pivot shows
that his front foot is at the same place when it lands as it was when
he started. I don't know how the reverse pivot helps that but suspect
it does because there is a golf swing that recommends leaving all the
weight on the left foot, "front loading," which results in
consistently more solid hits of the golf ball, I suspect because it
promotes a steeper backswing position at the top (where baseball
starts) with more tilted shoulders and a much more downward strike of
the golf ball!

Pujlos looks much simpler in the stills than in the earlier video I
included. Namely, he doesn't have the reverse pivot I pointed out..
These stills are simpler and easier to see how if fits the key detail
that the right leg stays angled, EVEN WHEN PUJLOS LIFTS HIS FRONT FOOT
and rotates his left toe inward towards his right leg.. His weight is
totally taken off his lef foot, BUT HIS CENTER OF GRAVITY DOESN'T
CHANGE from a nudpoint between his legs, right where he initially
started. This is totally different from the earlier video when he
initially loaded by shifting more weight to the back foot, THEN swayed
forward, angling his right leg to a new more forward rotational axis,
then rotating around that new 2nd axis in between his left leg and a
forward sliding, off the ground right foot!

Good luck trying to teach Little Leagers that: 1) weight shift back
2) reverse pivot forward 3) to the correct right leg angle 4) then
rotate around the new more forward axis.

Again, the simple instruction for the wider stance with stride
elimination should be: "Keeping your right leg in place, move your
right hand toward your back shoulder amd at the same time lift your
heel to load." If you hit, land your left foot and turn you whole body
through the ball as far as you can."

Scott, thank you for recommending that I watch Pujlos. Its been VERY
informative I would say that loading is almost identical in the upper
and lower body, just not the hands and arms.

The major difference in golf is that although the head stays still in
golf the rotation of the weight from right foot to the outside of the
left foot brings the left hand's back into the hitting area at hip
height pointing perpendicular to the line of flight. At impact the
back of the left hand is poining right at the hole, and bowed out in
that direction as well. That bow insures the hands are ahead of the
club head, making the clubhead hit the ball first and the ground next-
-all happening because the roation brings the weight over the outside
heel of the left foot. In baseball, there is also hitting downward,
but there is not as much weight shift forward, but rather a turning
that pulls the hands to a position more behind than in front of the
ball. Also the right palm is facing up at contact in baseball, but in
golf the right hand's palm is facing the line of flight.

As always the key to going into all this depth (besides the fun of it)
is to find the simplest thing to think about that will take care of 3
or 4 movements at once.

This has been very interesting for me, and I understand a lot more
about hitting than I did since we first got into this discussion about
the similarites between golf and baseball.

Thank, Mickey (aka kimes senior citizen, lol)


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