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# Linear and Rotational Hitting | Hitting Theories vs Science

Helping batters develop swing mechanics that increase their bat speed has been a major goal of both linear and rotational hitting coaches. However, these coaches have very different theories on how bat speed is increased. This article compares the linear and rotational hitting theories for bat speed generation with the laws on science and physics.

Rotational Hitting Theory for Generating Bat Speed

The rotation of the body about a stationary axis supplies the energy for the rotational swing. How that energy is converted into bat speed generation is based on a law of physics. That law states: "An object tends to stay tangent to the direction of force." At Batspeed.com, we refer to the angular acceleration of the bat induced from this law as the pendulum effect.

An analogy for how the pendulum effect generates bat speed would be like - swinging a ball around on a string. -- When the hand is rotated in a circular path, the ball will accelerate around the hand. The same is true in the baseball and softball swing. When the hands are rotated in a circular path, the bat head will accelerate around the hands. Put in more scientific terms, an angular displacement rate of the hands induces an angular displacement rate to the bat.

Linear Hitting Theory for Generating Bat Speed

Rotational theory for bat speed generation is very different from the linear theory. The linear theory is based on a Crack of the Whip analogy. The Crack of the Whip analogy, explained below, is based on the batter's forward weight shift and quick (A to B) extension of the hands. Linear coaches believe this action transfers the body's kinetic energy into bat speed.

Some linear coaches have batters "snap" a towel by quickly extending and stopping the hand. This was supposed to represent what happened to the bat head. However, a rigid bat cannot unfold like a towel. As the Batspeed.com video below explains, angular acceleration of the bat requires the hands to be rotated in a circular path. Nevertheless, most batting instruction, tips and drills are based on the linear (A to B) extension theory.

"Crack of the Whip" Theory vs Physic Laws

I can safely say that Batspeed.com was the leader in disproving the "Crack of the Whip" theory as it pertains to the baseball swing. In the early 1990's, I took "The Physics of Baseball," written by Robert K. Adair to Physics Labs in Southern California. His book basically outlines the linear theory for bat speed generation. I asked the Professors at the Labs to evaluate Batspeed.com's rotational principles governing bat speed generation to those of the whip theory as outlined in Adair's book.

At the labs, tests and discussions of physics principles that govern the angular acceleration of the bat were conducted. The lab's findings from these tests concluded that the Crack of the Whip Theory, as it pertains to the baseball swing was flawed. For the speed and path of the hands to induce angular acceleration of the bat, the direction of force of the hands must take a circular path.

Note: Many of the terms Batspeed.com use to describe batting mechanics came from terminology used in the Labs discussions. Also, tests ran at the labs greatly influenced our product selection and hitting instructions.

Below is an excerpt from Adair's book, discussed above, that covers the linear theory for bat speed generation:

 As the swing begins, the batter strides forward transferring his weight from his back leg to a stiff front leg. As the hands accelerate, the force from the reaction of the bat, transmitted through the hands and arms, slows down the body's forward motion and rotation. As the body slows, the hands that had been accelerated to approximately 15 MPH, also slows to a near stop. The body's kinetic energy is then transferred to the bat as forces uncocks the wrist. During this time (as the hands slows and wrist uncock) the kinetic energy that was stored in the body is transferred to bat. This kinetic energy transfer accelerates the bat head from about 40 to 70+ MPH.

Linear hitting is based on the erroneous belief that - if the batter quickly extends or throws the hands at the ball - the bat head will snap around like the crack of a whip. Unfortunately, this fallacy has wasted countless batting hours spent on the tee and in batting cages.

Additional Rotational Hitting Information

• (Video: Mechanics that generate bat speed)

Purpose of allowing opposing views

Do we actually teach what we see?
• The start of my study (Video: CHP & Torque)

Style vs. Absolutes in the swing
• All swings will be governed by the same physics principles (the "Absolutes)

The "Absolutes" to a good swing

A dads dream come true
• Hard work and efficient swing mechanics makes up for smaller size

B. Comparison -baseball and softball hitting

Pitching vs hitting mechanics (Video: Comparisons)

Softball swing mechanics same as baseball swing (Video: Comparisons)

Softball vs baseball hitting
• Linear MLB hitters lose in softball game against rotational Slow Pitch hitters

Differences in baseball and golf swing
• Golf grip induce wrist- roll prior to contact

Difference, golf & baseball (by Tom Querry)

C. Players/coaches/authorities

Mankin // Epstein differences
• Body rotation still requires efficient transfer mechanics to generate bat speed

Epstein torque (lower body) vs Mankin torque (upper body)
• Torque that induces hip rotation - Torque applied at the handle

Epstein - lead elbow

Epstein's box - 90 degree elbows vs straighter arm

Yeager vs Mankin's analysis - Conservation of Momentum

Robert Adair's linear weight shift vs Mankin's rotation about a stationary axis

Bat test data and why Robert Adair may have discounted handle torque
• (Video: Physics and Acoustics of Baseball & Softball Bats)

Steve Ferroli - Ted Williams & Flattened hands

Daw - Rubber band analogy
• (Video)

Yeager's whip theory vs Mankin's rotational model

Jim Lefebvre's book - Axis, front-hip vs spine
• (Video: Giambi momentum & lead leg)

Zig Ziegler's - Segment deceleration vs Load on rotation causes the deceleration

Tom Querry - "Whipping action" vs BHT

Hudgens' knob first vs Mankin's CHP

Lau To Jack - Firm front leg discussion

Paul Nyman vs Mankin (1) (Video: Misleading THT)

Paul Nyman vs Mankin (2) (Video: Misleading THT simulation)

Dusty Baker - Throwing the bat-head; Crack-of-the-whip theory

D. Rotational Hitting Aids/drills/cues

One-handed swings - Physics Lab test findings

Motion study computer (1) - Findings verify video analysis

Motion study computer (2)

Staying inside the ball
• What does staying inside the ball mean?

Motion study computer (3) - Torque & pressure seniors

The plane & the hose drill

Bullwhip - how it works
• There is no "Crack of a whip" with a ridged bat

Power: 50% CHP & 50% Torque - Clarification

Tom Waz - KE= 1/2(MVV) - Bringing JJA up to speed on Physics Calculations

E. Linear vs rotational

Linear vs Rotational - Clarification - What constitutes

Linear = Low load to rotation
• Zig Ziegler's segment deceleration vs load induced

Linear vs Rotational - Pendulum effect vs Whip action
Problem with Linear Mechanics
• (Video: "Whip Effect" vs CHP & Torque)

CHP & Torque vs Whip Model

Linear vs Rotational mechanics
• Yeager vs Mankin (Video: pendulum effect v. whip action)

Linear vs Rotational - Loading (weight on legs) & inward turn

Linear Mechanics and the minus 11 bats
• Ted Williams & lighter bats effect on mechanics

Linear & Fastpitch Softball hitting mechanics - College coaches teach rotational??

"Swinging too late"
• Bat speed from linear theories relies on nonexistent whipping action

F. Video analysis

Key points I look for in video analysis
• Requires more than a single view point

Hips or hands first?
• Think of rotating hips or the bat-head rearward?
• (Video: Sosa & Strawberry)

THT & Bat drag

Once shoulder rotation is depleted
• Bat drag - Without THT, bat rotation does not stay in sync with body rotation

Front view & Side view
• Reasons for need of each view

Video Camcorder
• Recommended camcorders for video analysis with Batspeed's video analysis software - MotionView

2. ENERGY DEVELOPMENT (LOWER-BODY MECHANICS)

A. Grip & Wrist

The Grip - Tight or loose?
• (Video: Bat manufactures test results on the grip)

Wrist droop
• Does one "knuckle alignment" work

Grip & elbow to the belly button

The Grip - Bat in fingers or palm

Bonds' Grip (both wrists flex) - straighter wrist & loose grip

Separate the hands = More torque?

Wrist snap? Role of the wrist in the swing

Extension (wrist snap) vs BHT (push/pull of forearms)?

Premature wrist roll - what causes it

B. Launch position

Hands to launch position
• Hitters have many different styles in how they arrive at launch position
• (Video: Bonds, Griffey, Sosa - Hands to launch)

Is "elbow up" a flawed position?

High back elbow - good position for rotational mechanics, but not for linear

Inward-turn & PLT to THT mechanics
• (Video: Bonds/A-Rod side by side)

• (Video: lead arm of 4 good hitters)

Hands go back with stride vs. Hiding the hands

• Lead-shoulder rotates 150+ degrees while torso rotates 90

Inward-turn & pre launch torque
• (Video: Bonds/A-rod side-by-side of PLT/THT/BHT)

Inward shoulder turn hides the hands from pitcher
• Griffey Jr. and David Wright illustrate the importance of the inward turn and hiding the hands(Video)

Problems with hands creeping forward or into pitcher's view

C. Weight-shift/momentum

Pitching vs hitting mechanics - (Video: comparison clips)
• Pitcher's forward momentum after foot plant not productive for swinging a bat

Does weight shift = momentum

Weight shift - Truism or fallacy?

Weight swift & the "Conservation of Momentum
• Hip rotation attained from linear weight shift is negligible

Momentum & Gyro Action
• Weight on back-foot & discussion of p=mv (Video: Bonds & gyro)

Is linear motion transferred into angular momentum??
• Theories on forces that drive hip rotation - (Video: Pathfinder demo; CHP vs. extension)

What drives hip and shoulder rotation

Hip rotation
• Legs/pelvic momentum - Swivel chair analogy

Welded wheel vs. depleting rotational momentum model

D. Lower-body

3 camps on hip rotation - (Video: Giambi - "Whip effect" disproved)

Role of the hips - 1000 hp engine analogy

Front foot open or closed

Why Mark McGwire's lead-leg may remain bent at contact on out-side pitch

• Hip rotation straightens led-leg & George Brett & THT

Body drifting foreword
• The cure

Body tilt - Does not necessarily mean weight on back leg

Batter fully rotates, but bat drags. Why?

No THT creates bat drag

Sync body rotation to bat rotation

E. Rotation/separation

Questioning shoulder rotation & CHP
• Mechanics that generate bat speed - (Video: Griffey, Bonds & Rose analysis)

Rotation & un-shrugging shoulders

Hitting the inside and outside pitch mechanics
• Lead-shoulder rotates 60+ degrees more than back-shoulder - (Video: Pete Rose)

Hip rotation must stay connected
• Hip rotation must contribute to shoulder rotation

Kinetic chain; separation; free wheeling

Muscles fire in unison
• Is hips leading the hands due to sequential timing?

Load causes separation -- No load = one-piece-swing (no separation)

Role of hips - Does maximum separation equal disconnection?

Separation/unison - Bowling ball analogy

Pulling head out - Premature rotation & no separation

Why not maximum separation - The 3 step swing (1-2-3)

Hips lead shoulders, but then all rotate in unison
• At initiation, all the muscles in the legs and torso are contracting in unison

F. Axis of Rotation

Axis tilt vs. shoulder rotation - (Video: Bonds' tilt and rotation)
• add Howard clip

4 axis of rotation

Spinning and rotation
• Revolving door vs. swinging gate (blocked lead-side) - (Video: Rose hip/shoulder comparison)

Is there a difference between spinning & rotating?
• (Video: Giambi's lower-body mechanics)

Weight-shift - Stationary axis vs. back to center

3. ROTATIONAL HITTING MECHANICS

A. Initiation

Focusing on the whole swing - Not just forward movements

Envision the bat's rearward trajectory
• Subconscious mind will set up a motor program

Its CHP/THT/BHT - But you can't think your way through the swing

Sync body rotation to bat-head rotation
• Think: Rotate heel, rotate bat head

Obtain your optimum contact position
• The mind will provide a motor-program to accomplish the body trajectories you envision

Don't "explode" - Think smooth ever accelerating power

B. Back-arm & Extension

"L" position at contact - Few average hitters attain correct position

Elbow to the belly button - not remaining in the "slot"

"L" in back-leg and arm
• What drives back-arm -- (would you rather be hit with boxers hook or jab)
• (Video: Back arm of 4 good hitters)

C. Lead-arm & Casting

Lead-arm - Should boxed elbow extend hands to contact?
• (Video: Lead arm of 4 good hitters & Pete Rose clip)

Defining "Casting & Extending

Role of the lead-arm
• 4 prong tire wrench analogy - (Video: Rose, Bonds & Burrell)

• Linear theme: All straight movement is good, all circular is bad

Does barring = casting?
• If so, does not "casting" = circular hand path

Barred arm & shrugging lead-shoulder
• Role of the lead-arm

"Keep hands inside the ball" = linear cue?
• The 'cue' and the resulting hand-path

What cause counterproductive casting
• Extending "barred arm" without shoulder rotation

D. CHP - (Circular-Hand-Path)

Pulling off the ball
• "Bat drag" = "Pulling off the ball" - (Video: Rose example)

How to practice developing a CHP
• PathFinder & Rubber hose drill

One-handed drill for generating a CHP

Hook in hand-path & Tilt-a-whirl analogy

Why hide your hands?

E. BHT - (Bottom-Hand-Torque)

"L" in back-leg and arm
• What drives back-arm -- (hit with boxers "hook" or "jab")
• (Video: back arm of four good hitters)

Lumberjack analogy - Energy expended at contact
• What powers follow-through

Rotational Hitting Mechanics that generate bat speed
• Rearward rotation of lead-shoulder
• (Video: Hitters Exhibiting Good & Poor BHT)

BHT - Applying torque by pulling the bottom-hand back
• (Video: Bonds & Burrell BHT mechanics)

Tony Gwynn - Full Extension vs "L" position at contact

Add BHT to CHP
• Lead-shoulder rotation - torque & CHP - (Video: Griffey analysis)

Back-arm "L" position - Percentage of torque applied (BHT to THT)

F. PLT & THT - (Pre-Launch Torque) & (Top-Hand-Torque)

THT applied in 2 Phases
• Hitters like Bonds and Sosa accelerate the bat-head rearward in two phases
• (Videos: Demonstrating THT w/PathFinder & Sosa - PLT to THT)

• Shawn v. Mankin analysis - (Videos: Sosa & overhead clips)

Bat accelerating from PLT into THT
• (Videos: PLT to THT mechanics; THT w/PathFinder; Sosa - PLT to THT; 2 Bonds clips)

THT - same mechanics, different names

THT-- Key to a great swing

THT - Thumb of top-hand raking shoulder

THT & BHT - Do great hitters knowingly apply?

THT - Rotational hitting & Transfer mechanics
• When I first saw THT being applied (George Brett)
• Video:Bonds and Burrell example
• (Video: Overhead of John Elliot)

THT & PLT - Sheffield PLT to THT maintains good linkage to rotation

THT - Keeps lead-arm across chest - "A ballistic motion"

THT mechanics
• Shoulder tilt & lowering of the elbow
• (Add Video: Ryan Howard's mechanics)

THT & Wrist binds

Mechanics that can cause Wrist binds

THT - Can you see THT being applied

THT & slotting the elbow
• (Video: Bonds pre-launch torque mechanics)

PLT - Bat vertical or wrapped

PLT - Bonds mechanics

PLT - Discussing advantages of applying PLT

G. HITTING THE Inside AND Outside Pitch

Inside/outside mechanics
• (Video: Lead-shoulder rotates 60+ degrees more than back-shoulder)

Mark Teixeira - inside/outside mechanics
• (Video: Lead shoulder rotates 150 while back shoulder rotates 90)

Hitting the outside pitch

THT & plate coverage
• (Video: Reaching the low outside pitch - John & Rose overhead)

Pulling off the ball
• Little power to the opposite field are all indicators of "bat-drag"
• (Video: Rose and plate coverage)

Big Mac's front knee
• Why lead-leg remains bent during contact

The outside pitch - linear vs rotational mechanics

Outside pitch - BHT mechanics vs PFO

Ron Gant & Matt Williams - Limitations of BHT on outside pitches

H. Contact/Bat Drag/Follow-through

"L" in back-leg and arm
• What drives back-arm -- (hit with boxers "hook" or "jab")
• Insert video - 4 good hitters' back arm

Pulling off the ball not caused by shoulder rotation
• (Video: Pete Rose)

Best hit balls pulled foul
• Linear mechanics = Bat drag - (Video: Sosa)

Hitting mechanics & the Follow through

• (Video: WCWS hitters contact position)

Big Mac's top-hand release
• Conditions that make releasing the top-hand necessary
• (Video: Animation - McGwire vs Amateur Hitter)

Lumberjack analogy - Energy expended at contact

I. Linear vs Rotational Swing Plane

Swing plane like a tilted flat disc

Lead-arm plane & the swing plane

A-Rod & The Swing Plane
• Discussion of frontal and across the plate view - (Video: comparison clips)

PLT & the swing plane
• Wrist-binds & waves in the swing plane

THT & the swing plane
• Rearward force must be inline from lead-arm

"Swing down vs swing up at the ball"
• (Video: bat up slope to contact)

Swing down - But behind not in front

Looping swing - Collapsing back-side

Causes of plane flaws - Discussion of initiation problems