“Watch the great hitters…They will tell you everything you need to know.” — Ted Williams, MLB Hall of Fame player
NINE STAGES OF THE ROTATIONAL SWING
Almost all MLB players use what I (and others) call a rotational swing. This is easily confirmed by watching slow-motion video of them batting. MLB hitters use the rotational swing because it is the most efficient and effective way to hit the ball and generate maximum power.
The rotational swing can be broken down into nine stages, starting with the stance and ending with the follow through. At each stage, the hitter’s body and bat should be in or moving into a particular position. These are the basic movements and positions we look for when evaluating a player’s swing.
Stage 1. Stance
Stance is a matter of personal style and preference. Any stance is fine as long as you can get to Stage 3 on time. Nonetheless, there are several recommendations for the stance:
- Back foot pointed straight ahead with weight on inside part of the back foot.
- Knees flexed and inside ankles.
- Tall athletic posture with chin slightly over knees.
- Eyes level and on the pitcher.
- Rhythmic movement before pitch.
The load/stride involves simultaneously moving the bat into the load position and shifting weight to the front foot.
- Weight shifts back before going forward.
- Back knee inside the back ankle.
- Weight on inside of the back foot.
- Player is “falling” not reaching forward, transferring his weight to the front foot.
- Stride straight ahead.
3. Toe Touch
At toe touch, the hands are loaded and the body is ready to swing the bat.
hands are shoulder height and between the tips of the elbow and shoulder.
- Knob pointed at the catcher.
- Shoulders going “downhill.”
- Front elbow bent, chin above shoulder.
- Knees and waist slightly bent with feet about inseam length apart.
- Foot lands straight in direction of pitcher.
- Once the front toe touches the ground, the front heel begins to drop.
4. Heel Plant
When the front heel lands, the body’s linear momentum is blocked by the front foot, the hips rotate against the front leg and the upper half begins the swing.
- The head stabilizes between the feet.
- The hitter should be in the same basic position as in Stage 3 until the front heel lands on the ground.
- When the front heel lands, the upper body begins the swing, the hips start to rotate against the front leg, which braces against the front heel. Linear energy is transfered from the leg to the hips.
- The hands and shoulders begin taking the bat to the elbow slot position in Stage 5.
5. Elbow Slot
When the front heel lands, all forward (linear) momentum is blocked and rotation begins. The hips rotate first creating torque before pulling the shoulders around. As the shoulders start to turn, the rear elbow begins moving to the slot position beside the rib cage and the front elbow begins working up.
- Head does not move forward.
- The shoulders tilt down and the rear elbow slots with the hands in front of the rear elbow.
- The elbow slot causes the bat to move down towards the bicep.
- Forearms are at least 90 degrees apart.
s the bat approaches the ball, hips begin to decelerate and the shoulders accelerate. Shoulder tilt and elbow slot set the bat path so the bat is on plane with the ball. Rotation of the hips causes the front foot to begin rolling over and the back foot to become weightless, the back toe may even drag across or leave the ground.
- Axis of rotation fully developed with firm front side.
- Rear elbow is slotted.
- Bat is on plane with the ball.
- Rear foot is weightless.
As the shoulders begin to decelerate, the arms accelerate and extend through contact.
- Arms are starting to extend through the contact point.
- Top hand up, bottom hand down.
- Head is still down and has not pulled off.
- Front knee is locked out by full rotation of the hips.
- Firm front side and body tilt are a result of the axis of rotation.
- The rear foot is weightless.
8. Power V
Arms reach full extension in front of the body with the bat pointed toward the pitcher.
- After contact the wrists roll over and the arms extend into the power v.
- Arms are extended with bat pointed towards the pitcher.
- Bat barrel is slightly below or even with the hands.
9. Follow Through
Follow through is a matter of personal style and preference. It can be with two hands on the bat or with one hand. If one hand is used, then the top hand should not release the bat until after the power v in Stage 7.