Stepping up to the plate can be daunting for any beginner, but with the right approach, hitting a baseball is a skill that can be mastered. Let’s break down the basics to get you swinging confidently.
- Hitting fundamentals start with the grip; for right-handed hitters, the left hand should be on the bottom of the handle and the right hand stacked on top.
- Elbows should be raised up even with back shoulder at an angle that makes it easy to slice through the strike zone.
- Feet should be parallel to the plate, shoulder-width apart, and balanced on the balls of feet; weight is shifted onto the back foot before the pitch is thrown.
- Eyes must stay focused on the release point in order to see the ball’s movement, speed, and location; the head must remain still during a swing.
- Hips swivel out toward the pitcher first, creating torque that pulls the upper body through the strike zone while eyes follow the ball until contact is made in front of the plate.
Hitting fundamentals start with the grip. If you are a right-handed hitter, start by using your left hand. You will grip the handle of the bat with your left hand all the way down to the knob of the bat.
Some people describe it as shaking hands with a bat. Your right hand will grip just above the left hand. Many people will line their knuckles up. Some will turn their hands a bit to have a more comfortable swing.
Finding your best grip will take time and practice. You should get a loose yet comfortable grip on the bat. It is also important to note that if you are a lefthanded hitter, then your hands will be stacked in the opposite order (right hand on the bottom of the handle and left hand stacked on top).
Strong hands and forearms are beneficial to a good hitter. It is important before you start your swing that you keep the grip loose and in control. Some hitters like to let the bat dance in their hands just a bit, so they get accustomed to the weight of the bat.
After you get the grip of the bat settled, the next thing you need to do is learn how to hold the bat.
You will notice that batters have many different styles when it comes to holding the bat. Some batters will wave the bat or point the bat, and some even hold the bat still. No matter how a batter holds a bat, you will find that almost all batters come to the same starting spot.
With your hands gripped on the bat, raise the bat up even with your back shoulder. Some people will hold the bat at about a 90-degree angle. You have to determine which angle works best for you.
Probably the most important thing to remember is to avoid resting the bat on your shoulder. When the bat is in the ready position, it will hover over your shoulder at an angle that makes it easy to slice through the strike zone. Keep both elbows up and practice swinging the bat back and forth.
Your feet may be just as important to your swing as your hands. You want to stand parallel to the plate. You may prefer to have your front foot out past the front of the plate (the flat part that is closest to the pitcher). Or it is possible that you would like to place the front foot even with the first bend in the plate.
This is going to depend on the type of pitcher you are facing. You may then choose to place your rear foot just past the tip of the plate. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart. Your weight should be balanced on the balls of your feet. You don’t want to swing from the heels.
Wait and Weight
Waiting is an important part of hitting. You have to be patient at the plate. If you are overly aggressive at the plate, you will have a harder time making contact. Before the pitch is thrown, you should keep your weight balanced equally between the front foot and the back foot. Before the pitcher releases the ball, you have to stay balanced with a loose grip.
See the Ball
This part of hitting is difficult for some batters. You want to make certain that you keep your head still while you are batting. The simple reason for this is that if you jerk your head one way or another, you will have a difficult time seeing the ball. If you can’t see the ball, it is harder to hit the ball. So keep your head still.
Equally important is keeping your eye on the ball. It is an age-old phrase, “Keep your eye on the ball.” Keeping your eye on the ball tells you a lot of things: it can reveal the movement of a pitch, its speed, and possibly its location.
In order to see the ball, you have to make sure that you are not focusing merely on the pitcher but on the release point. Every pitcher has a release point – the place where they release the ball. When you focus on the release point, the grip on the ball can tell you a lot about the pitch before it is thrown.
Once the pitch is thrown, you follow the ball with your eyes. Again, you don’t want to yank your head one way or another. You want to keep your head still and light. Let your eyes do the work.
Transfer the Weight
As the ball travels in your direction, you will feel your hands slide back slightly, putting the bat in the ready position. At the same time that you adjust your hands, you will enter the “loading phase” of hitting. All this means is that you are going to transfer the weight of your body from balance to a majority of it being on your back leg.
There are different ways that you can accomplish this shift. Some hitters pick their front foot up and stamp it back down. You can also keep both feet on the ground and simply shift the weight back.
However you accomplish this transfer, you need to make sure that you are still balanced and in control. If you put the entirety of your weight on the back leg, you will have a hard time getting the bat through the zone.
After your weight shifts, you are going to use the power in your legs by pushing up through and swiveling your hips. Your upper body will stay back as long as possible, but your lower body will swivel out toward the pitcher first. This creates a torque in your body and pulls the upper body through the strike zone.
Eyes on the Ball
Through all of this movement, it is still vital that you keep your eyes on the ball and your head still. Your eyes will follow the ball to the point of contact with your bat. Your head will stay down on the ball as you throw your hands and swing the bat through the zone. Ideally, you will make contact with the ball in front of the plate.
Practice, practice, practice
Hitting is arguably the most important skill in baseball. The basics of hitting are actually pretty simple: grip the bat, get a good stance, keep your elbows up, balance your weight, see the ball, keep your eyes on the ball, shift your weight, throw your hands, keep your eyes on the ball, and make contact. Hitting improves with practice. The more swings you take, the better hitter you will become. To get even better at hitting, be sure to see more of our baseball hitting tips.
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