Baseball Swing vs. Softball Swing

If you boil it down I think the discussion boils down to swing planes; and Rotation vs. Linear!

1. Swing Level?

You’ll hear this at every park you go to watch baseball or softball: “Swing Level”. However, it’s not possible to swing level.

Think about the baseball swing for a moment. Your hands are held high, in the slot position. The ball, if it’s a strike, is thrown between your knees and the letters. So, how can a swing be level? Well, it can’t be. A correct baseball swing is elliptical; it has a downward motion through contact to create backspin on the ball and a high follow through.

Great hitters may each have different planes they swing on, but none of them are ever going to be “level”.

Let’s stop creating this incorrect mental image for the kids. Image below compares the elliptical swings of USA softball players to Barry Bonds.

The hitters swing is a chain reaction of sequential events that must occur in the right order. People  have argued that good softball hitters and good baseball hitters all have the same swing.  (They all have the same parts - summarized on Evaluation sheet, and First Lesson). 

One of these positions is the bat lag position. By getting to bat lag, the elite batter can extend the amount of time available to judge the pitch and make the decision to release their wrists and accelerate the bat head through the ball to extension. Elite hitters develop the ability to time the initial stages of their swing with the motion of the pitcher from their negative move, to toe touch, heel plant, connection, and bat lag. 

Below is a Picture of Alexandra Lyn Hebert in Bat Lag position.

Instructional video by Sue Enquist, retired UCLA softball coach.

Be sure to listen closely as she says..."as they come forward and they go into connection" 

2.  Linear vs. Rotational or Hybrid

Maybe we should start out with a few definitions. After all that is how we start out lesson one. 

What does Linear mean? I think it means movement in the direction of the pitcher. And that is how I will refer to it here.

The pro’s on the internet refer to it as a continuous “linear” movement all the way thru contact and thru the finish.

The critics of Charlie Lau say he taught Linear hitting. (Or extension or Front foot hitting) 

What does Rotation mean? I think it means rotating on an axis and that is how I will refer to it here.

The major criticism for me in rotational hitting is that some players focus only on rotation. Then you may end up with squish the bug.

I think I teach a blend of one - then the other. I think both baseball and softball players are the most successful when they get a good rhythm and load, then get some linear movement. This linear movement happens after toe touch by the front leg and stops as the heel plants.

The hitter should brace the front leg and build a wall to hit up against it. This wall will stop the head and linear movement. Then rotate.

In the rotational part of the swing, the role of the hands, wrists, and forearms is to funnel and direct the forces that are generated elsewhere in the body. I think that if you do some reading on this site you will see that

I like to teach a linear movement up to the point where you brace against the front leg. 

What we are teaching is called a "ROTATIONAL" swing with a linear movement inside of it!