Does your coach teach to your strength?
Yes, both rotational and linear hitting mechanics work in fastpitch softball! Does that mean one style of swing mechanics is better for you than the other? No! A better question is can you use them together to produce a powerful, consistent fastpitch softball swing? Stay with me on this as the answer will become crystal clear as we take on the question of which approach is better for you, rotational or linear.
A good friend of mine who is a highly respected fastpitch softball pitching instructor that has produced well over 75 college pitchers, one national and two state Gatorade players of the year, as well as dozens of regional and all-state pitchers, uses the dog marking the tree analogy for many coaches. You see, once an accomplished kid moves on to the next level, often the specialty coach at that level will make adjustments just for the sake of doing something that he or she feels is their trademark, or in other words, they're marking their tree.
As an example, this past summer (2010) I attended a few college softball camps on the west coast and at two of these camps/clinics the coaches spoke only of linear hitting. One college softball coach made it abundantly clear that if you were interested in playing for her team you would become a linear hitter! The other College Coach, (completely different school) who was also a major proponent of the linear approach to hitting shared an example of the swing she called the "push" motion that made me think; "this is why rotational swing theorist discount the linear approach" as it was the most nonathletic softball swing I had ever seen.
Does it have to be? No! It's all in simplifying the explanation and understanding what a successful out come should look like for you!
Something I always wanted to do as a kid growing up was to stuff a basketball on a regulation basket, never could! Some of you desire to hit 250 foot home runs, never will! Does that mean that you won't be great hitters? Of course not, it just means that you need to understand your limitations and build your swing around what will make you the best hitter you can possibly become.
The Rotational vs. Linear Comparison
(Remember in the introduction piece I spoke of angle of pitch coming to the plate baseball vs fastpitch softball, if not it's good to go back and understand this as it will take on a stronger significance throughout this overview.)
Nevertheless, let's dive in a little deeper and look at the two current professional baseball players that rotational hitting instructors like to use as examples to support their argument of Rotational hitting vs Linear hitting. The statistical source I'm using can be found at www.baseball-reference.com.
Before I give you the names of the professional baseball players they like to refer to (some of you may already know) I'm going to give you their stats for comparison. These stats we're from 2000 to 2010 for both players so that nothing is skewed in this analogy.
Player One: Over this 10 year period had 1900 Hits, Scored 1186 Runs, Struck Out 646 times, and had a batting average of .331
Player Two: Over this same 10 year period had 2244 Hits, Scored 1047 Runs, Struck Out 683 times, and had a batting average of .331
Comparable wouldn't you say? So why are they so dead set in preaching only the gospel of the Rotational swing?
1) It's all they know and it's how they mark their tree
2) They dig the long ball!
Player one above is Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals, and Player two is Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners.
Pujols is the poster child for today's rotational hitting instructors and Ichiro is their favorite example of a linear hitter. When looking at the above stats you'll notice that I left out the Home Run category. Pujols hit 408 over this time period and Ichiro hit 90! One would think he should have scored 300 more runs than Ichiro right? It doesn't work that way. Pujols definitely is an RBI guy and Ichiro is the table setter for hitters like Pujlos, which are you?
Remember above I always wanted to dunk a basketball but never could, wouldn't be a good idea for me to enter a slam dunk contest now would it? Understanding who you are will help you better understand the approach you should take to the plate. No coach in their right mind wouldn't want either Albert Pujols or Ichiro Suzuki in their line-up would they? Of course not, nor would they try to make Pujols a linear hitter or Ichiro a rotational hitter! So why are they trying to limit you to only their style? Maybe marking their tree?
Lastly for this post I'll leave you with one other argument that rotational instructors like to use to support their approach to hitting and that is this; "girls aren't strong enough to use the linear approach." come back for part 3 of rotational vs. linear hitting as I'll shoot holes in this logic.
Until next time ask yourself, what type of hitter am I? Understanding this and being honest with yourself will put you on your path of success as you take your plan to each at bat!
Introduction Overview Rotational vs. Linear
The Mental Approach "Think Like a Pitcher"