One On One – Coach Parker Responds To Dave Hudgens
The more I am around the game, the more I realize that how hitting technique is broken down and analyzed. The following article was written by Dave Hudgens. I decided to use his article to demonstrate the misconceptions of hitting instruction. In particular, the use of the weight transfer as a hitting technique versus rotational. Weight transfer is an “element” of the swing process and every player should be utilizing it.
50 / 50 HITTING
by Dave Hudgens
Some hitters may be more weight transfer then rotational. They want to get on top of their front foot and transfer their weight through the ball. You’ll see these hitters on top of their front leg more dramatically than others. The hitters who use a greater percentage of weight transfer, generally speaking, hit more singles and doubles. I have racked my brain to try to give you an example of a Major League weight transfer hitter and I can’t think of any. Some might argue that George Brett was a pure weight transfer hitter – this is a misconception. If you can get a hold of old footage of George, he is definitely a combination of the two. While editing this section, Jordan thought Frank Thomas was a good example of a hitter who utilizes more weight transfer then rotation. I agree, however, he is not purely weight transfer. If you were to arbitrarily assign percentages to his swing, he would be more of a 60% weight transfer, 40% rotational – he uses both.
Here lies the problem, weight transfer is not a hitting technique, it is an element of the swing process. Both linear and rotational hitters share this element and is a vital factor to both. There has to be back to front movement. Some players maximize their weight transfer and thrust their weight into their front side at heel drop, yet others have a more subtle weight transfer. All you need to do is look at the back foot of a hitter. Some hitters will be on their toe, some will be off the ground completely and yet others will be in the ball of their foot. Pujols, Aaron and Sheffield throw all their weight into their heel drop and as the begin to rotate, their back foot becomes elevated completely off the ground. Weight transfer is a huge element of good hitting mechanics and it is what you do at heel drop that defines what type of mechanics you are using.
A classic contact position or Ideal Impact for most players looks like this:
The reason they are considered rotational is the simple fact that they are rotating around a single fixed axis, the big muscles pull the small, they tilt and get level to the ball and their hands are inside the ball at contact. Weight transfer is merely a element of getting the energy into the front axis, then rotation takes over.
A total rotational hitter will have more power than the weight transfer hitter simply because he uses his hips and legs more and of course you know that is the core part of the body from which power comes.
Power is a two part scenario. One, the energy one creates by letting the big pull the small and two, making contact at the ideal impact zone. Players that make contact outside of the 90 degree threshold lose a vast majority of their power. Back to front motion is a critical piece to launching that energy around the players axis.
However hitters who are rotationally dominant will generally have a longer swing, pull off the ball more and be more inconsistent – therefore they will have more holes in their swing. False
Players that understand rotational mechanics will have ultimate bat control and will be “tight”, meaning the upper and lower body are connected . Short and compact to the ball and long through it. When a player is rotating in the axis is when bat control is at its highest level. It is similar to driving a sport scar, very tight steering.
They will not be able to use their hands to react to different locations and types of pitches. Dave Kingman, who played in the 1980’s, is a good example of a pure rotational hitter. Dave would hit 40 homeruns a year and hit .200 for average. I can’t think of any Major League hitter who hits purely rotationally, although both Barry Bonds and Greg Vaughn utilize more rotation then weight transfer. Now they would be more in the percentages of 60% rotational, 40% weight transfer. They still use both. That is because weight transfer is merely an element of rotational mechanics, not a hitting technique.
Ted Williams – Charlie Lau
I frequently am asked questions about the all time great hitter, Ted Williams and the late Charlie Lau. Williams is thought of as being a pure rotational hitter, while Lau was a pure weight transfer teacher. Both are misconceptions and misrepresenting the swing. Percentage wise, Ted teaches more rotation but if you look at his old videos and still shots, you clearly see his weight going from back to center which is weight transfer. Lau embraced a pure weight shift philosophy and many of his still shots in his book do show hitters on top of their front leg, however, that isn’t what happened to those same hitters in real game action swings. If any of you have Ted William’s book, The Science of Hitting, turn to the very last page and you will see a perfect swing. However, look closely. Ted has gone to the center position, with his back heel in the air, and his toe – NOT the ball of his foot – on the ground. This clearly shows you the weight has transferred to the center position and therefore, it is not a pure rotational swing.
Ted Williams said that the hips lead the way, the swing is not level or down but slightly up through the ball and at contact a player needs to make contact at the ideal impact zone.
Weight transfer is simply an element of the swing process, not a technique.
A pure rotational swing would involve no weight transfer and would consist of the weight spinning on the ball of the back foot. It is clear cut – he is definitely not spinning. The swing is definitely a combination of both rotation and weight shift. However, there are varying degrees of this combination. Speaking in mathematical terms, look at it as a matter of the percent used of each. Some hitters will use a greater percentage of rotation, while others will use a greater percentage of weight shift. Ideally the swing should be 50/50. Fifty percent rotational and fifty percent weight transfer. Most great Major League hitters are at 50/50 – A-Rod is a good example.
The only misrepresentation is analysis of the rotational swing process. If a player is rotating off of his back foot then the only defining factor is a lack of weight transfer. I have been researching and teaching hitting for 22 years and I am hard pressed to find a hitter that didn’t use weight transfer in their swing.
The effect of having a pure rotational approach is that the hitter will be guaranteed to have a less effective, more inconsistent circular hand path.
If a player doesn’t get their weight into their front axis then absolutely. The hands will lag, the bat will lag and the control will be limited. This is why squishing the bug is a poor teaching tool. It prevents the weight from getting into the front side and drags the back side. I refer to this as the “boat anchor ” and many players are taught this.
When taking a circular hand path through the zone, the barrel of the bat stays on the contact plane for a very short time. This leads not only to an improper hand path but also to inconsistent contact. In addition to that, these hitters will have a greater likelihood of rolling over the ball with their top hand which in turn leads to more weak ground balls being hit. Contrast that to a hitter using a strict weight transfer or linear path. Don’t agree
A linear path to the ball keeps the barrel out of the path of the oncoming pitch. Tilting and turning allow the bat to lay down into the path of the pitch and will increase the amount of time the bat is in the pitch path.
Despite the fact that he will stay on the ball longer, he will in fact have more of a chopping type swing. That is why a combination of the two is what leads to the most success. The proper hand path will start out linear or straight to the ball. On the finish or follow through, the swing becomes more circular. In other words, the swing is more linear on the approach to the ball, and more circular on the follow through. Remember to keep it simple because this truly isn’t a difficult concept, people make it much harder then what it is. Exactly
Linear technique tome is not about weight transfer. Weight transfer is present in both rotational and linear mechanics. What separates the two style is what happens at heel drop. A downward path to the ball, or pulling the knob to the ball versus the tilting, leveling and turning to the ball. Linear players are taught to swing down on the ball, rotational players are taught to swing up through the ball.