What Josh Donaldson's Thinking

Over the off-season, I have had a number of Twitter exchanges with Josh Donaldson, both publicly and via DM. There is a lot of very good information in those exchanges, as well as a few interviews he's given, so let's go through it and analyze what works and why and how it relates to the other information on my client site.

Rotation or Linear

"I believe 100% in rotation with a mix of linear also."

The Hands, The Shoulders, and Rotation

“Honestly I never really think about my hands...I use more of my entire body.” 

"(The) hands are not determining the swing. Actually, the bat falls behind the shoulder and the back shoulder delivers the swing."

"I try to bring my rear shoulder to where I want to hit the ball." 

"The front side should be knocked out by the back." 

“If you’re using your whole body more, using your shoulders and your back legs, you’re going to have more control of the barrel.” 


"Why do you load? To sync your body and to read the pitch."

"Load is a fun word. Most people do not actually understand or know how to do it."

"My load is a little complex but I'm still trying to make it more efficient. My initial part is the weight begins to shift back. Back shoulder (scap) brings the hands back."

"The hands move back when the scap loads."

"To bring my hands down, I want my arms to have zero tension until I set my back scap."

"Hands come up naturally as the coil is being released. Aka the swing." 

Short to the Ball

"I love length in the swing. I never think about staying short to the ball. Total BS. But there is a fine line of too much."

"The key is to be as efficient as possible. That does not mean take movement out, but understanding how to control movement and know how to use it."

Hand Path

"(W)hen you fire your back hip, your hands do not go straight down. The hands actually fall behind the back shoulder."

The Front Elbow

"Been cleaning up some front side mechanics and wow does it feel efficient. Front elbow to be specific." 

"Aim the front elbow at pitch height."

"I'm sure (MLB Client), like me, has been taught to keep his front elbow down. It's completely wrong. The thought I had the other day was to aim my front elbow at the height of the ball/plane. Wow, you talk about bat speed and the freedom to turn through. Front elbow it's almost like a pop up if the height is up."

The Front Arm

"I like for the front side to stay relaxed throughout."

"If anything, when I feel the most powerful, the top hand turns so that my knuckles face down through contact. Meaning trying to not allow the wrist to roll over." 

Knob to the Ball

"Not a fan of knob to the ball. Because most people hit with the hands, it produces a push with the hands."

"My definition of knob to ball doesn't allow the barrel to shut (ala Derek Jeter). My knob starts to the ball but that's it. Actually it starts towards catcher, then to the ball. From there it's a slam."


"Who teaches it? No one I've ever heard teach separation. They just say get your foot down."

"Separation is front foot down and front hip open, while upper half stays square to the plate."

Follow-Through and Extension

"Personally I never think about this. It's pointless to me. If all the other steps are done properly, the follow through is natural."

"Extension comes first from swing plane. Bad swing plane, bad extension."

"Extension comes from the back shoulder turning through the baseball."

"If I'm not getting extension, it's because my backside mechanics break down."

"Anytime the chain falters, extension fails."

"Instead of extension, I would focus more on acceleration through the swing."


"I honestly never tell myself to get my foot down. I tell myself get my foot up, if anything."

"(I)f the guy is super quick, I think 'get my barrel up' at the beginning of the load."

Teaching The Swing

"I've worked with major league hitters and amateurs. Cues are terrible. You must get them to understand what and why and how the body must work. They all can have different set ups but there are certain positions you must get to." 

For More Information

 For more information about Josh Donaldson's swing, see my...