The History of Baseballs Batting Mechanics
The History of Batting Mechanics
I was recently at a coaches conference and I facilitated a hitting clinic. It was the last day of a busy weekend where many professional, college/university coaches and instructors were on hand presenting their theories and philosophies on baseball. These coaches were talking about the high-level baseball swing, which the amateur coaches in the audience had a tough time understanding. Every hitting coach has their own theories on the mechanics of the swing.
A few questions that came about in my clinic were:
1. Why did some coaches have opposing ideas and opposite theories?
2. Why would one coach say keep your front shoulder closed, while the other mentioned opening it up and rotating through the ball?
3. Isn't there one way to hit the baseball?
For those who are beginners at baseball or are coaching for the first time need to understand that over the hundred years that baseball has been played, there have been the same amount of theories, philosophies and ideas. The two main theories are the "Rotational Style" which was made popular by Ted Williams and Mike Epstein and the "Linear Style" which was made popular by Charlie Lau and current Los Angeles Dodgers head coach Don Mattingly. There are many differences when talking about linear vs rotational so here are a few key points.
Instructors who teach linear hitting mechanics believe in a 70% weight transfer from the rear foot to the front foot. The front side of the body must stay closed as long as possible and just as Don Mattingly likes to say, that the hand path has to be straight to the ball and when making contact, the arms are to be fully extended. Linear style teaching believes that the power source in the swing comes from the hands, wrists and forearms. You will hear coaching cues such as "throw your hands to the ball" or "the shortest distance between two points is a straight line".
The rotational style believes in using the whole body, especially the legs, hips and core. Also, there is a linear portion of the swing but only during the stride. Once the stride has ended in the front heel has landed, believe that a hitter should rotate through contact with the arms bent.
The body parts that are used in linear vs rotational are very different. Using the smaller muscles of the upper body a linear hitter must sacrifice much of their power as well as having the inablilty to hit high level/velocity pitching. Having an understanding of the two main styles you'll find it easier when listening to your hitting instructor or explaining it to your team.
Don't forget the domino effect and stay in sequence.