As a hitting instructor, I am regularly asked, “What is your hitting philosophy?” Most of the time, players, parents and coaches who ask this question want to know, “Do you teach linear or rotational hitting?”
As hitters and hitting coaches, we cling tightly to our hitting philosophies. Most people are protective of their approach and their swing. As a player, I certainly did not want anyone to mess up my swing! To me, “mess up” meant changing my philosophy. Although I definitely desired to work hard and improve, I did not want anyone to drastically change my swing or my approach. Most hitters share this same protective impulse.
Before debating hitting philosophies, players must implement certain key fundamentals and practice to the extent that proper mechanics become habit. No two hitters must look the same in the box, but all highly successful hitters share mastery of some common fundamental skills.
Understand that the principles below only apply after a hitter has established a fundamentally sound swing. To answer the initial question, I do not cling to one specific hitting philosophy. As an instructor, my job is to help each hitter find her best swing.
Before discussing the two approaches in detail, we must first understand some basic terms.
Rotational Hitting focuses on Torque. Torque is a turning or twisting force. It is also classified as any force or system of forces that causes rotation.
Linear Hitting prioritizes the need for straight lines when swinging. A line is a set of points that have one dimension-length-but not the dimensions of width or height. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.
To maximize we need both torque (rotational approach) and proper direction (linear approach). Keeping the bat head level and long through the hitting zone on the same plane as the softball constitutes proper direction. To utilize all the power generated by torque, hitters must properly direct that energy through the ball.
The ball travels from the pitcher toward the catcher on a line. When hitters swing and miss or miss-hit a ball, they have pulled off the line of the ball. Connecting squarely with a pitch is basically finding the line of the ball's core and staying through it. Missing wide, high or low introduces dimensions inconsistent with a line. Lines consist of length only; width and height do not exist in a line.
I have worked with hitters who take a more rotational approach and those who are comfortable with a more linear philosophy. Since hitters from both backgrounds have experienced equally successful results, why must we choose between linear and rotational hitting?
We will individually examine the two seemingly contradictory styles.
The rotational approach generates incredible power. In my experience, however, many rotational hitters also experience decreased consistency. Hitters using this philosophy may log more home runs than the average hitter but usually collect more strike outs, as well.
When swinging with a sole focus on rotation, the bat tends to slice through the hitting zone and cut the extension short. In addition, when the focus becomes too rotational the hitter will tend to spin instead of driving through. This spinning action does generate a great deal of power, but often this power is wasted because it spins the hitter away from the ball. In many cases the head follows and tends to fly out more frequently. The upper body may also open away from the ball. If timing is not perfect, the power created is not actually used.
The linear philosophy tends to prize consistency over increased power. Linear approach hitters may tend to post higher batting averages and lower slugging percentages than many rotational hitters.
On the other hand, linear hitting allows a hitter to more efficiently and effectively use the power she generates because her movements are directed through the ball. When executed correctly, a linear swing will keep the hitters barrel in the zone much longer. The head and front shoulder can also stay locked-in on the ball. The compact swing path to contact and the increased extension in the proper direction after contact drastically increase a hitter's consistency.
Hitting gurus can endlessly debate hitting approaches and philosophies. Ultimately, however, it is important that a hitter understands her own swing and feels the necessary adjustments for her as an individual. Using highly technical verbiage can confuse and stifle players. Great hitters possess buy-in. They are not trying to look like another hitter but are working to implement fundamental concepts in a fashion that develops their best swing.
Instead of thinking linear or rotational, think linear and rotational! Tap into the power of rotational hitting and the consistency of the linear approach to maximize the swing. It is possible to increase both power and consistency at the same time. And is better than or!
Charity Butler is respected nationally & internationally as a pro athlete, writer, speaker, collegiate coach, hitting instructor and Certified Intrinsic Life Coach®.Currently, as a Pro Speaker for Sports World, Inc, Charity travels the country speaking to more than 40,000 people annually. As a recognized expert in confidence training, she also presents at various conferences, colleges & universities.Charity is the founder of Exceed Sports, LLC, and of the I Heart Fastpitch Campaign Join Charity On: Twitter, and on Instagram
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