No matter what level of baseball you play, going back to the basics of hitting can sometimes make all the difference throughout the season. Training prior to the baseball season is key, but focusing on the finer aspects of your skills will help to improve your overall batting statistics. In this article, we’ll outline the focus points for each stage of your swing, guide you through judging when to swing, and identify a few common errors batters tend to make.
The Basics of a Baseball Swing
Your swing is made up of 7 parts: grip, stance, and balance, load, stride, swing, contact point, finish. Many players often think that the focus of their swing ends at the contact point, but the finish can actually make all the difference.
Grip the bat where your fingers and hands meet, at the top of the palm, with no space between your hands. If you bat right-handed, your left hand should be placed above the knot of the bat with the right directly above it. If you bat as a lefty, then you should have your hands placed opposite, with the right on the bottom. Hold the bat at a 45-degree angle, about 6 inches above the back shoulder with your elbows dropped and relaxed. Everyone has a different grip, it truly depends on your body and what works best for you, but start here and adjust as you need to.
Stand close enough to home plate so that your bat can easily swing across the far corners. Place your feet slightly shoulder width apart with your knees and waist bent. Your toes should be parallel to the side of the batter’s box and you should be on your toes like you’re ready to run at any moment. Before the swing, evenly distribute your weight with your shoulders level. Just as with your grip, your stance might vary based on what feels most comfortable to you. Just make sure you find what works best and stick to it.
Loading is the anticipation of a pitch. To begin, shift your weight mostly onto your back foot while bringing the bat slightly backward. At this point, your front shoulder should close slightly and your front knee should move inward. Keep your eyes focused on the pitcher. At this point, your body should be stacked with the foot under the knee, the knee under the hip, and the shoulders and hands aligned above the hip.
The timing of your stride is critical. Make sure your stride gets you in sync with the approaching ball. Keep the step short, about 6-12 inches and maintain the majority of your weight on the back leg. Land softly on the pad near your big toe and get ready to swing.
Start the swing by firing the rear hip forward. Twist everything under the head, but keep the head focused and in the same position. Bring the rear elbow in toward your hip and begin to transition your weight to the middle to swing the bat directly at the ball.
Keeping your head steady and eyes on the ball, keep the front leg firm to create resistance and propel the bat forward. Your contact point will determine where in the field your ball goes. If you hit the ball too soon, it will pull left. If you hit the ball too late, it will veer off to the right.
Follow through the ball! Without the finish, your swing will lack power. Both hands should continue around the front of the body with both arms extended while the hips and torso rotate. Your head and eyes should still be focused on your point of contact. Once you have completed your swing, then you can take off to first base.
When to Swing
As stated multiple times throughout the seven steps of hitting, keeping your head down and eyes focused on the ball is the key to success. That is how a hitter is able to identify where the pitch is going, how fast, whether it will be a ball or a strike, etc. It forces you to see the pitch rather than just swing at a ball coming your way.
The basic mechanics of a swing are designed to force a hitter to hit directly in the strike zone. So if you swing and the ball is not in the zone, then you will definitely miss. Identify a ball vs a strike, and just simply don’t swing at anything that is not a strike. The most fundamental skill involved in learning when to swing is learning to see the pitch.
Yet, swinging at the right pitch means nothing if you don’t swing at the right time. That’s why timing is key. While you are seeing the pitch, you can also see how fast it is coming at you. Sync up your swing with the pitch and the ball should go straight down the middle. Experienced hitters play with timing occasionally, hitting the ball slightly early or late to aim where they feel there might be a gap in the field.
Practice Makes Perfect
Everyone wants to be able to hit the ball out of the park, but truth be told, it takes time to develop that level of strength and skill combined. First, master the basics, then learn to incorporate power. Part of power also comes from strength training and conditioning. Many of the mistakes that players make come from failing to master the basics of a proper swing. Here are some common mistakes batters make and how to fix them.
This is easily identified by trying to gently push the batter over from any direction. Without proper balance, eye contact will be hindered and many other issues could occur. To fix it, go back to the basics of your stance. Make sure your weight is distributed properly and your feet are slightly wider than hip-width apart.
Upper cutting causes the player to hit the bottom half of the ball, which results in weak ground balls or pop-ups. It could be caused by shifting the weight too far backward, dipping the back shoulder or elevating the front shoulder, or a bad grip. Fixing this issue requires going back to the grip, stance, and balance. Make sure these are all aligned and that your bat is swinging in a direct line to the point of contact.
Hitting with the Wrong part of the bat
Many hitters often hit the ball with the wrong part of the bat. Usually, this ends in fairly sore fingers and palms for a little while afterward. It’s easy to hear this issue by the sound the point of contact makes. Correcting this may require moving closer or further from the place, concentrating on the line of the swing or adjusting hand placement on the bat.
Practice makes perfect, but what is progress if it’s not documented? Make sure your team is keeping stats for you and your fellow players. Watch your hitting statistics improve over time and gain insights on how you can improve your overall baseball game.
805 Stats is a scorekeeping app that keeps track of detailed player statistics. Get more information by checking it out in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store