ChrisOLeary.com > The Hitting Mechanic > Dave Hudgens Views

Analyzing Dave Hudgens'
Views on Hitting

Dave Hudgens is one of more prominent names in hitting instruction. As a result, I thought it would be interesting to examine some of his beliefs about hitting and the baseball swing. I will do this using two pieces that Hudgens published on hittingworld.com, entitled "50/50 Hitting" and "Don't Get Caught Following Bad Hitting Advice!"

50/50 Hitting

In "50/50 Hitting," Dave Hudgens discusses what he feels are some of the differences between Rotational Hitting and Linear Hitting. Right from the start of this piece, Hudgens says something that reflects a common misconception about Rotational Hitting...

Some hitters may be more weight transfer then rotational.

Many people equate Rotational Hitting with a lack of a weight shift and no stride. I assume that is because that is how Mike Epstein teaches Rotational Hitting. However, that's not how I teach Rotational Hitting or how the High-Level Swing works. I teach that every good swing has at least a weight shift, if not a stride, because that is what you see in a High-Level Swing.

Hudgens then goes on to say...

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. They will not be able to use their hands to react to different locations and types of pitches.

First, it's questionable whether a Rotational swing is actually longer than a Linear swing. I say that because, while a Linear swing sounds good in theory, as I discuss in my piece on The Myth of the A to C Swing, I have yet to find a major leaguer who actually does what is advocated by the proponents of the A to C swing.

Second, there's no reason why a properly-taught Rotational hitter will pull off the ball. As I discuss in my Rotational Hitting FAQ, good hitters know how to keep their hands back and their shoulders closed while their hips open up underneath them. They also know how delay the planting of the heel of their front foot. This allows them to make the adjustments that they need to cover the entire strike zone but still hit the ball hard.

Hudgens then talks about Charlie Lau and Ted Williams and the differences in what they taught...

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.

Again, although Rotational Hitting is taught without a weight shift by Mike Epstein and his disciples, in truth most good swings have a weight shift, if not a stride. The big, and true, difference between the two approaches is that Linear hitters will tend to hit more over their front foot while Rotational hitters will tend to hit more against but behind their front foot.

I'm not sure what picture Hudgens is talking about when he says...

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. A pure rotational swing would involve no weight transfer and would consist of the weight spinning on the ball of the back foot.

...but I will say that, again, this quote is more a reflection of how some people teach Rotational Hitting than what good hitters actually do.

Some people teach that the way to get good hip rotation is to crush or squish the bug with the back foot. I assume they teach that because you can find pictures of good hitters who appear to be squishing the bug. However, and as I explain in my piece on The Myth of Squishing the Bug, the idea that good hitters squish the bug through the Point Of Contact is a myth.

With respect to the hand path, Hudgens says...

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.

While many people teach this and say this, it's very easy to find video evidence that disproves this idea. Instead, video shows that good hitters actually use a Curved Hand Path through the Point Of Contact.

Albert Pujols Curved Hand Path

Albert Pujols' Curved Hand Path

In fact, Hudgens has the hand path backwards; sometimes the hand path may start out more linear, or elliptical, but it will generally have a pronounced curve in it through the Point Of Contact.

Don't Get Caught Following
Bad Hitting Advice!

Hudgens has more to say about the hand path in "Don't Get Caught Following Bad Hitting Advice!"

During the swing, the back elbow should come close to the rib cage and the barrel of the bat should stay above the hands. With a high back elbow, the elbow has to travel a much greater distance and at a much faster rate of speed. When this happens, the barrel of the bat will drop below the hands, the front elbow will rise, and you will have a long swing. If this goes on for very long, you have created a habit - a very bad habit.

This paragraph is riddled with myths and misconceptions related to the supposed A to C Swing.

For instance, if a high back elbow is so bad, then why do you see a high back elbow in the swings of so many good hitters? There's also the question of the proper positioning and movement of the back elbow, the front elbow, and the barrel. I discuss the myths related to the idea that you need to keep the barrel above the hands through the Point Of Contact, and not swing with an uppercut, at length in my piece on The Myth of the A to C Swing. However, all you have to do is look at a few video clips of good hitters to see that good hitters frequently do the things that many people say that one should never do.

Albert Pujols Swing

Albert Pujols' Swing

Chipper Jones Swing

Chipper Jones' Swing

Alex Rodriguez Swing

Alex Rodriguez's Swing

Don Mattingly Swing

Don Mattingly's Swing

For instance, notice how, in each of the clips above -- all of which are of home runs -- how the hitter's front elbow rises and the barrel drops below their hands. That is commonly referred to as a loop in the swing and it's supposed to be deadly. Perhaps a loop in the swing, a high front elbow, and an uppercut aren't as bad as people think.

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