At our camps and clinics we simply take a batting glove, and mark a line across so it comes from the index finger down. It keeps our hand and our bat on top of the finger grip which is what we’re looking for. If we can keep the bat from getting back in the palm of the hand, we’ll have much better wrists.
How do you usually approach getting a bat? I grip it with a handshake. That’s all it is. I use this whether I am picking up a bat, or someone is handing me the bat. So what you do is simply take the bat, and shake hands with it and bring it in. And then you’ve got the top hand ready to go. Do the same thing if you’re shaking left-handed, with the bottom hand. Your grip is nice and loose, and your finger grip is in a position where it’s above that line we drew, rather than below towards the thumb.
One of the things you can do is simply put the bat out in front, and if you can pinch the bat between your thumb and your index finger, then you have a finger grip. If you’re only pinching inside the thumb and not the index finger, you’re going to get a slow bat movement. Out is quicker. We want to keep the wrists loose. We want that bat speed. We want to be able to explode our hands – our wrists – to the ball.
The next thing we want to look at is where we position our hands in regards to our body. What we want to do is try to keep the bat up high. Bottom hand approximately the distance of the high pitch, the high strike – the pitch, strike up, top of the strike zone – and opposite the armpit. And we keep this position and take the bat then the hands to the ball.
We want to keep a power position with both the lead arm and the top arm. We need power positions for both. On the power position, you should see the elbow going right toward the target, towards the pitch. You want to caution a little bit so you don’t get in too tight. You’ll see some hitters in too tight, and then it restricts your arms coming through quick. And remember it’s the quick swing we’re looking for. So we have a little bit of space, about the width of your hand in here, away from your body, but a power position.
Elbows are down. So many times we see elbows up. What we find ourselves doing, as a hitter, is wrapping. It’s difficult to work against gravity. We’re in this position, we have the bat at about one o’clock, and as soon as you bring that elbow up, we want to decrease the distance it takes to go to the ball. We have to bring it up against gravity, bring it all the way around. And a tendency, because of the way we’re made anatomically, is we tend to drop that back shoulder going down. So let’s make sure that we don’t end up wrapping the ball. Come straight through it. So the elbow comes across in the power position, and they’re pointed down essentially, and the back elbow tends to be just a little bit higher.
The Front Arm
The front arm is basically a 90-degree angle between our upper arm and our lower arm. Get it up too high, now you’re back in wrapping.
Shoulders are relaxed. If one shoulder’s a little lower than the other, it needs to be the front shoulder. If you start out this way, you have a tendency to have a real problem because you’re going to drop more and more or you’re trying to move the bat back up. So it doesn’t hurt to start with it down just a little bit. Or just completely level. Either way, but if you’re going to err, err with it down a little bit.
In getting your stance, we also want to be level. Everything is level. If you get a good drop pitch, or a good rise pitch you’ll go right under it because the bat’s going to drop down, you’re going to hit the ball in the air. So keep your knees level and you’ll be in pretty good shape.
A couple other things I want to point out in terms of the stance. How far away do we stand?
Something I want to point out in terms of an open stance versus a closed stance. As I close my stance, which means I’m going to bring the rear foot further away from the plate than the front foot (in other words, I’m closing my body to the pitcher), notice as I move, the bat moves. Suddenly the distance from the bat to the contact point has been increased and we’re trying to keep it short and yet explosive. So if you’ve got an extremely quick swing, you’ve got extremely strong hands and wrists, you might be able to use a closed stance. But generally, you’ll see most people will have a square stance.
If you’re still struggling getting the bat around, you might try an open stance. That brings the bat even closer to the ball before the ball is ever released from the pitcher. So on our closed stance, if we start with a square stance and we open it up, now we’re facing the pitcher a little bit more. But once we start closing it up, you notice it’s a long way to go for an inside pitch. And that’s the pitch that oftentimes will be thrown because you’re going to be vulnerable to it. So start with a parallel stance or a square stance, both feet about equal distance from the plate. Stay up on the plate a little bit so that you can get some of the balls before they break. Before the rise jump, before the out curve goes, and before the drop pitch drops down. This makes it a little bit easier to hit. You’re not going to pick up that much time because of the velocity. But you will get to hit a lot of pitches.