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Hitting is Linear AND Rotational


Softball fan
Feb 28, 2008
Montreal, Canada
I am probably opening a can of worms but I have to say it...

I have to say - I am personally growing tired of that debate linear vs. rotational as I think there is no such thing as either linear or rotational.

I don't consider myself to be a ''hitting guru'' but I think it's one of my strengths as a softball coach. I like to teach it and I understand it very well which is helped by my background in exercise science - physiology and biomechanics.

I have seen most of the tapes and reviewed the material of most people - Mike Candrea, Sue Enquist, Mike Epstein, Steve Englishbey, Don Slaught, Pat Murphy, Ken Ericksen, etc. I have actually spoken to all of them personally except one.

Today, I was looking at sample swings described as rotational by a ''rotational hitting guru'' and couldn't stop but notice that the swings themselves are similar to what Don Slaught has in RVP who is considered to be more of a linear guy.

Here is a fact:

Most if not all the best hitters in the world - baseball or softball - have a linear AND a rotation component to them.

You create forces by adding together angular (rotational) and linear velocity.

Actually, I looked at over 30 swings today for fun of elite players (baseball and softball - most of them on ''rotational'' sites) and just about every swing are linear to start with (slight trigger or loading or negative move followed by a stride or a positive move forward to toe touch) - that part is VERY COMMON in all elite hitters and is a linear mechanism - which then followed by the swing itself which has a rotational component to it.

Now, some hitters / hitting instructor will emphasize one aspect or another but really, there is NO SUCH THING as a linear or a rotational swing. Every swing has both components.

It is a matter of biomechanics - you need both to maximize bat speed and hitting power.

Every sports moves out there is linear and rotational - golf swings, tennis shots, softball or baseball throwing, javelin throwing, etc.

Name it - it has both linear and rotational components.

I think a lot of people believe in different aspects of the swing but at the end of the day, the fundamental principles of hitting aren't that different from one coach to another - they just focus on different things and use a different terminology.

I agree there are some differences but I don't like the ... are you rotational or are you linear? Like there was some sorts of right or wrong.


May 12, 2008
The terms rotational and linear have been redefined, as relates to hitting, so often they have become less than useless. I wouldn't say Don is identified as "linear". I'd say he is identified as teaching, as he sees it, using software and clips, the MLB swing. Kudos to Don for getting Mike and Sue on video saying the MLB swing is the fp swing.
May 7, 2008
San Rafael, Ca
Marc -

I think for analysis and teaching you need a fairly full/detailed swing model as with Williams/Epstein or Lau/Lau Jr or Peavy or Mankin or Dixon or Slaught.

The Slaught/Candrea model is most prevalent in fastpitch and the first part linear/second part rotational description in the context of that system is fine.

negative move
positive move to toe touch,

Then "rotation starts with back elbow down" and front heel dropping to:


Linear and rotational do not really matter except in how they are defined within the system in this case.

However, "linear" and "rotational" may be more applicable when you look at the deeper mechanical layer which tries to explain what mechanics the body is trying to make use of (biomechanics).

In this case, I would say that the "kinetic link"/summation of levers/summation of velocity IS a "rotational" mechanic that is measured in motionanalysis (kinematic as opposed to kinetic measurement) demonstrating efficiency by virtue of detecting "expected speed gains" which means that each link accelerates to a higher angular velocity hips to torso to hands to bathead as described here by Zig Zigler:

Bat Speed -- Baseball Hitting Forum

with a setup similar to the news report here:

YouTube - Motion DNA and Jennie Finch with Pro Softball Players

"..........the hitter takes a stance in any position (this position is random and stylistic and should not be considered the stance because it varies so much from each player). This position is comfortable and allows them them to prepare for the first phase of the swing (negative move) often referred to as loading, or wind up or whatever terminology you want to use. In this loading phase, which many of you call a backwards weight shift, the best athletes have a slight change in the position of the hips and shoulders, closing to a position of approximately 25 degrees of the hips and 40 degrees of the shoulders {X-Factor is now approximately 15} (This is accurate to 1mm)

"The forward swing is then initiated at the ground with the application of force to the back foot. As force is applied to the back foot, it creates a linear shift of weight, at the same time, their is a release of rotational energy around (rotating) from the front foot up to the hip of the front leg (the heal of which has dropped during the linear/rotational shift, to provide a solid front side to hit against). At this point there is an X-factor stretch of approximately 12 degrees (x-factor stretch is an increase in the degree of separation between the hips and shoulders). Epstein, is slightly wrong on X-factor, too much can be a bad thing. Especially if you do not have the abdominal recovery strength to go with the flexibilty it takes to create a large x-factor. But x-factor is an important part of the swing.

"During this first phase of the swing the forward swing there is an expected angular speed gain (progressive speed gain) of approximately 200 degrees per second from the hips to the upper torso, as the hips rotate and peak to a speed of 550 d/sec, and upper torso rotates and peaks milliseconds later at a speed of 750 d/sec. There is an additional speed gain of approximately 250 d/sec from the upper torso to the arms (which reach a speed of 1000 d/sec milliseconds after the upper torso). This is followed by a significantly higher gain of 1000 d/sec from the arms to the bat as the bat releases at a speed of over 2000 degrees per second. Good athlete = 550>750>1000=2000 degrees per second (rotational bat speed)

"This is an example of a poor athletic sequence (but can still be successful if the choose the right pitches).... If an athlete has gains that are higher in the early phases, the arms to bat gain is signicifantly lower (Example: 300, 300, 500 (typically looks like hips=600, Upper torso= 900, Arms=1200, Bat=1700) this would indicate a power leak or lack of appropriate pacing through the swing. (Like a 400 meter runner who runs the first 100 meters in 9.9 seconds and finishes in 50 seconds) the pace or rythm/timing is off and causes a loss of energy at the finish."


The kinetic link is NOT a "linear" component in my opinion, so some questions:
- what is linear vs rotational ? the shape of the handpath ? (mankin) or the type of momentum involved ? (linear on line motion of center of gravity vs angular momentum - more along the lines of the Slaught/candrea description), or something else

- why do you need a "linear part" if as mankin says a linear handpath disconnects you from the access to body momentum/rotation or if as candrea says most of the power comes from addition/summation which is rotational


I think part of the answer is that the linear/forward momentum of the body/center of gravity is necessary to position the body for controllable/predictable in sequence rotation/summation AND the hands and bat must have the right shape handpath to make efficient summation possible.

The forward momentum of the "positive move" makes it possible to shift the base of the spine forward which enables well sequenced bottom up summation/addition as well as supporting the hands in staying back so when the bathead does acfcelerate it is still well behind the hitter in the developing swing plane AND the forward shift of momentum is important in creating the last quick controllable stretch/coil of the torso which Zig decribes above as "x-factor stretch" which is a way the body can be used to take advantage of the near instantaneous nature of momentum transfer as opposed to being overly reliant on muscular force development to fire the bathead (muscling the ball rather than whipping the bathead).

But rather than think in terms even here of "linear" and "rotational" it is probably better just to think of what the hands and body have to do to produce efficient addition/summation.

One reason I personally do NOT like thinking of the swing as first "linear" then "rotational" is because in the MLB pattern, the uncocking of the bat which starts BEFORE toe touch in a short/quick swing is better thought of as a "rotational" move becasue mechanically it consists primarily/essentially of rotating the bathead by turning the handle.

Here is a golf article with some description of relation of handpath to "summation/addition" of segments and how body action relates to handpath shape:

How to maximize wrist lag and av

Lots of good related stuff here, see especiallyHogan's handpath illustration/explanation.
Jan 14, 2009
Atlanta, Georgia
I use the following definitions to explain the differences between linear and rotational hitting. I borrowed them from one of the gurus.

In linear hitting the weight begins coming forward in the stride and continues coming forward through contact and follow-through. In other words, the hitter’s weight is one continuous movement towards the oncoming pitch. A FLEXED front knee allows this continuous forward movement to take place.

In rotational hitting, there is also a weight transfer forward in the stride, but once the front heel drops to trigger the swing, the front side is blocked by a RIGID front leg, and the hitter’s linear movement becomes rotational. Body momentum at this point revolves around a stationary axis.

I agree that the weight transfer forward in the stride in rotational hitting is a linear movement.

I would also add that linear hitters get little to no seperation between their lower and upper body and therefore generate almost all of their power from their upper body.

Most of the FP hitters I see in my area do not use their lower bodies. Yes, their hips turn, but it is purely cosmetic. I've pitched thousands of balls in batting practice to linear hitters and their hands always lead the hips and they always make contact with their weight over their front foot. It's a total upper body swing. In addition a linear hitter's swing plane is level to the ground or down into contact.

The differences between rotational and linear mechanics are the most apparent to me when I work with a hitter on rotational mechanics. Namely because it is so hard to break them of their old tendancies.

Can a hitter hit using linear mechanics? Absolutely.

Will they ever hit their true potential? Probably not.
Aug 4, 2008
Good post Mark C. Working with Bustos and her hitting coach this weekend this question came up. Don would answer this question that it is Linear with Rotational principles. The other part of the question in the coaches clinic, that we answered. The MLB swing and the Elite Softball swing we teach are the same. Bustos even told the crowd that she was told she had a baseball swing , since she was little. We teach the same swing to our boys as we do with our girls. Don explains this in RVP and does a good job of posting MLB players and Elite Softball players so you can freeze each swing. Many have different styles but put them in four view and then freeze them at Connection or Contact and look at the swing.
Jan 14, 2009
Atlanta, Georgia
why do you need a "linear part" if as mankin says a linear handpath disconnects you from the access to body momentum/rotation or if as candrea says most of the power comes from addition/summation which is rotational
Tom, assuming I am correctly interpreting your answer to this question correctly, I think we view the linear part of the rotational swing close to the same.

In laymen's terms, the batter and the bat can be considered a "closed" or "isolated" system. The linear part of the rotational swing creates momentum within the system. When the front heel plants and the front leg straightens, the linear momentum "has to be" conserved. In other words the momentum can't just disappear, it has to go somewhere. In the rotational hitter the momentum is sent upwards to the hips and upper body and the momentum is changed from linear to circular. If the hitter keeps is hands close to his body leading into contact he is able to created some serious bat speed and whip.

Figure skaters basically do the same thing. They generate momentum by skating in a straight line, and when they plant the toe of their skate they are able to convert their linear momentum into rotational momentum. If they pull their hands in close to their body, they spin like crazy.

Linear hitters do not take advantage of the "conservation of momentum" because the upper and lower body comes through into contact together as a unit. The momentum created in their stride is never fully channeled to their hands and bat.

Which is not to say that a person can't hit using linear mechanics. They can.

They just aren't able to generate the type of power and bat speed that rotational hitters can.
Sep 29, 2008
Northeast Ohio
put them in four view and then freeze them at Connection or Contact and look at the swing.
SBFamily. Do you have any pictures you are able to post showing comparisons at different points to point of contact. If you legally can that would be great.

The two things I notice that makes me feel the idea of rotational after heel drop best describes good hitters - male and female I've seen are:

1) On clips I've looked at, after heel drop both the hip and shoulders stop all forward (linear) movement and rotate. From a side view the shoulders seem to rotate up and around the spine and the hips around.

2) The hands seem to follow the path of the bent lead elbow up and around the body whipping the barrel into the path of the ball. Rarely if ever do I see the hands pushing forward into the path of the ball. The extension of the arms straight if it occurs seems to happen well after contact.

I had the good fortune to see Crystal hit live this past weekend and shot some video. In slo-mo she seems a little more linear than a lot of others I have looked at but at the end of the day it looks like a linear weight shift to heel plant and then - BOOM! - quick explosive rotation into contact with extension usually well after contact.
Aug 4, 2008
I was an instructor at the last clinic Crystal was at, if you are talking Ohio. You are correct in the above post. My pictures are in RVP, but Crystal hitting coach has her pictures in RVP, that we used in the clinic.
May 7, 2008
San Rafael, Ca

The usual explanation of how linear momentum relates to rotational (angular) momentum is that the forward momentum is blocked by the front leg with the hips already open a little to create a leverage that aids in boosting hip turn.

In addition to this requirement, there needs to be creation of adjustable torso coil (that is llined up/matched to pitch trajectory as the hands stay back) that reverses initially by elastic soft tissue properties and enhaced stretch receptor action to better harness the near instantaneous nature of momentum transfer.

This is a necessary part of getting the "early batspeed" and "late adjustability" (of well matched contactn zone) that is necessary for the MLB pattern.

The "linear" momentum does not have to be "conserved" and does not efficiently add anything in the sense of summation/addition of the kinetic link,but it IS necessary for the links to segment in the right order with the right speed gains early in the swing plane.

The hip firing action is synched at go with the lateral shoulder tilt and running start of turning bat and forward/linear momentum to make this happen.

Adequate segmented rotation starting spatially early behind the batter with enough quicness to adequately read the pitch require weight "shift" that gets adequately off the back side AND avoids lunging/going back to front.

Likewise the handpath/bat action has to be synched so that storage and release of load form segment to segment is optimal.
Jan 14, 2009
Atlanta, Georgia
The "linear" momentum does not have to be "conserved" and does not efficiently add anything in the sense of summation/addition of the kinetic link
Interesting. I'm by no means a physics expert, but I always understood momentum within a "closed system", regardless of it's vector, had to be "conserved" unless acted upon by an outside force.

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