There are several matters a coach or player must understand about hitting.
1. It’s the most difficult task in sports, making solid contact between two round objects which are moving in opposite directions.
2. Hitting involves every part of the body from the top, and inside, of the head to the bottom of your feet.
3. Practice is the only method to improve.
These 3 issues are but the tip of the iceberg in developing a good hitter, but as they say “A journey of a 1000 miles begins with the first step.”
We’ll exam a few steps in how to develop a “Sweet Swing,” and a drill which you can perform to increase bat speed and power.
Most people don’t realize there is a proper and improper way to grip the baseball bat, and I’m not referring to whether or not to choke the bat, but the actual holding of the handle.
Your two hands should butt against one another as you grip the bat, the fingers of each hand should wrap around the handle of the bat with the knuckles aligning with one another forming a “door knocking” fist.
Some people attempt to grasp the bat handle like they would a club, with the handle being deep in the hand against the palms. There is No strength in the palms of the hands, which illustrates why this is an incorrect method, only the fingers have the strength to firmly grip the bat.
Every suggestion is an approximation, as stances vary somewhat depending on the players’ physical characteristics, take this into consideration, but stick to the basics as close as possible as they are a proven method to success.
Stand in the batters box, feet shoulder width apart, straddling home plate, knees slightly bent, weight evenly distributed. Be sure you can reach the outside portion of the plate by tapping it with the end of your bat. If you can’t touch the other side of the plate, or if you have to lean forward to reach it, move closer to the plate.
Position your hands chest high, holding the bat cocked behind your ear and slightly over your rear shoulder. Never rest the bat on your shoulder when hitting, it’ll produce a lazy swing and throw your timing completely off.
A hitter must have a starting mechanism which initiates the body’s hitting motion. There are various starting mechanisms, but most and the easiest methods involve the hitter’s front foot. As the pitch approaches:
1. Lift the front foot @ 2″ – 3″ off the ground and move it forward as if taking a step. This begins the lower body movement, which in turn creates the explosive hip motion, which accelerates the shoulders, arms and hands through the hitting zone.
2. Exactly the same as number #1 except, lift the front foot @ 2″ – 3″ off the ground and set it back down in the same place, without taking the step forward. Albert Pujos is famous for this method.
3. Moving the hands up or down will initiate body movement which will begin the swinging motion. I hesitate to teach this method, because the slightest difference in hand movement up or down, could negatively affect the level of your swing.
It’s a proven fact, Bat Speed, not muscle strength, creates the type of power which is required to send towering home runs over the fence. One drill you can perform to increase bat speed is what I call “Hit through the ball” drill.
1. 1 good quality batting tee.
2. 1 plumbers plunger.
3. 1 soccer or basketball partially deflated.
Insert the plumbers plunger upside down into the batting tee, forming a cup which will hold the partially deflated soccer or basketball. Notice I say “partially”, you want to take the firmness and bounce out of the ball, but not deflated to the point the ball wraps around the bat when struck.
Place the ball on the tee, take your regular batting stance and hit the ball. There will be a strong hesitation when the bat makes contact with the ball, which is quite normal. The key for you to remember is “Don’t Hit the Ball… Hit Through the Ball.”
As you continue to perform this drill, which will take several days, the hesitation upon contact will lessen, until it becomes hardly noticeable. This exercise will increase bat speed as well as upper body strength for more powerful contact with the ball.
***Always remember to firmly grip the bat as you swing in order to avoid wrist injury from the sudden stopping or hesitation of your swing upon contact.