Introduction: Swinging a Bat
It can be frustrating to have a low batting average, even after spending hours at the batting cage. While most people just worry about the number of swings they take, they should also be focusing on the quality of their swings. Having a good swing is very important because it will optimize ball distance, but a perfect swing can also give the player control over the ball’s placement in the field. This guide is a compilation of multiple coaches’ tips for achieving a perfect swing.
The only thing needed is a bat. Home plate, cleats and batting gloves optional.
Step 1: Finding the Right Bat
It all starts with the bat itself. The right bat can make or break a swing. To figure out the right length of bat, hold the bat horizontal lining the base of the handle in the middle of the chest; the bat should reach the tip of the index finger. Another way is by standing next to the bat while the bat is sitting vertical on the ground; the bat should reach but not extend the hip. Figuring out the right weight for a bat can vary from player to player. Power hitters can usually handle a heavier bat while a player who has foot speed and whose goal is to just get the ball into play usually gravitate to a lighter bat. A good way to determine if the player can handle the bat’s weight is by holding the bat out to the side, horizontal, in the nondominant hand. If the barrel hasn’t begun to drop after 45 seconds, the player can handle that bat.
Step 2: Timing and Placement
Before getting into the batter’s box, the player should calculate where in the box they want to stand. While in the batting circle the player should watch the pitcher. The player should count the seconds from release to glove. This helps determine where in the box the player should stand. If the pitcher is fast, the player should stand closer to the back; move up in the box if the pitcher is slower. Players that struggle with timing can use placement in the box to their advantage. A player that is too late on the ball will pull it right; to correct this the player should move back in the box. If the player is hitting the ball too early and pulling it left, they should move up in the box. This theory can also be applied by a player that wants to control their ball placement in the field. Say a team has a lazy or injured player in left field, a batter can move to the back of the box in an attempt to pull the ball to that side.
Step 3: Starting Stance
Next, think about the starting stance. On the balls of the feet, place them roughly shoulder width apart with the knees bent. Most of the player’s body weight should be placed on the back foot. Focusing on the grip next, place the nondominant hand above the base of the bat and the dominant hand right above. Knuckle placement will vary. For most players, the knocking knuckles will roughly align with the big knuckles. When figuring out the exact knuckle alignment, the player should go to the contact point. The contact point is the zone where the bat would connect with the ball during a swing, usually over the plate. When in this position, the wrists should be straight or “boxed”. After figuring out a comfortable grip, bring the hands up to the back ear; careful not to be resting on the shoulder.
Step 4: The Swing
Finally, it’s time to swing. Start by standing relaxed in the batter’s box; don’t make the mistake of getting into the starting stance to early. Getting ready too early increases the chances of getting tired and locked up. Once the pitcher indicates they are starting their wind up, get into the starting stance. The swing starts when the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand. Take a small step out with the front foot. Make sure to stay on the balls of the feet the whole time. Pivot the back foot and bring the hips square with the pitcher. This pushes the weight to the front foot, which creates power. In the same motion, bring the hands to the contact zone, keeping the bat as horizontal as possible. Once contact with the ball has been established, extend the arms all the way out before following through. Following through is a term for the motion used at the end of a swing to release the extra energy created during the swing by rotating the wrists and having the hands come up to the front shoulder. After the follow through, the swing is complete.