Archive for Baseball Hitting Techniques
Insider Hitting Point 2 – The Grip
The player must have a correct grip to be in a good position at point of contact. An incorrect grip will make it difficult for the player to hit the ball squarely and with any consistency. The grip seams like such an easy thing to get right but when I watch players hit I can tell you most of them have a grip that doesn’t allow them to be successful. Getting a correct grip on the bat is necessary to ensure the hands don’t bind up robbing you of much needed swing speed.
Most coaches will tell you to simply line the knocking knuckles up and the grip is set but I really think it requires more discussion than that. You have to remember that players have different size hands so simply telling them to line their knuckles up and you have a good grip is ridiculous to me.
I don’t want to make more of the grip than is necessary but I think there are three key check points that lead to a successful grip and lining up knuckles is not one of them.
First, the grip should be checked at the point of contact position which requires the palms of each hand to be facing each other. At point of contact the bottom hand should be palm down parallel to the ground while the top hand should be palm up parallel to the sky. The hands should also be parallel to each other as well. The bat must be sitting across the upper palms of both hands just below the start of the fingers (see picture below).
Start by setting your players up in this position and ensure their bat is set in the correct position every time. Have them practice this until they all get it right. Once it’s set and you feel the players can repeat it over and over again you need to ensure the player can take the grip from this position and keep it in place while getting setup correctly. Again practice this until the players get it right.
Secondly, the grip cannot be so tight that it causes the player to bind up when they swing the bat. So many players, especially young ones will grip the bat so tight that you can see the whites of their knuckles and by doing this they will not be able to break the hands correctly as they go through extension. The swing will appear to be very stiff in nature and it will be impossible to hit the ball hard with good consistency.
Third, at set up make sure the back of the bottom hand is facing the pitcher and not way from you the hitter. This will ensure the hitter has the correct wrist cock when the swing enters the hitting zone or point of contact.
You must ensure your players or child relax their hands enough to keep control of the bat but not bind themselves up. Each player is different so you have to experiment with it.
Now it brings us back to lining up the knuckles. If the player has followed the advice above their knocking knuckles will either be lined up or the knocking knuckles of the top hand will be aligned in between the knocking knuckles and big knuckles of the bottom hand. Where is dependent on the size of the players hands so now you know why I don’t think taking a grip with the simple knuckle alignment is the answer for every player.
Baseball Bat Standards and Terminology
There is a lot of controversy around baseball bat standards and most of that is due to safety concerns in recent years. This affects every level of baseball from youth level through college level. There is a serious push to make Aluminum and Composite Bats perform more like wood bats.
This coach feels that’s a good thing; however the standards can be confusing and I’m always being asked about bat standards so I thought I would provide you with some standard terminology to get you up to speed on bat standards.
Baseball Bat Guide:
A composite bat is an example of improved technological advancements in the industry which take the aluminum bat to a whole new level. Basically a composite bat is constructed just like an aluminum one from an exterior standpoint; however there is a woven graphite wall on the inside that you cannot see. This gives the bat an advantageous swing weight as compared to a traditional aluminum bat. In addition you get an improved trampoline effect which helps the ball pop off the bat.
This is know as the “Ball Exit Speed Ratio” and is the standard by which controls are placed on the performance of metal bats. It can be controlled in such a way to make them perform more like wood bats. The test measures the speed at which a baseball comes off the barrel of the bat. The testing is conducted with a ball striking a stationary bat and measuring the ratio of the rebounded ball speed to the incoming ball speed. This test is what’s currently being used; however a change to BBCOR will happened officially before long.
This is known as the “Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution” and is the new standard for metal bat testing. The BBCOR is tested just like the BESR but adds a value for the inertia of the bat itself. All weight and inertia requirements that applied for BESR approved bats will still be enforced for BBCOR approved bats.
Accelerated Break-in is a term that describes how a bat performs after lots of use and can actually get better with time. Coaches and Players have accelerated the use of bats artificially to gain an advantage with improved bat performance so the ABI test was developed to combat this. This test measures the improved performance over the useful life of a bat and ensures at no point does it outperform the original BBCOR standard.
Baseball organizations set limits on the differences between a bats length, measured in inches and a bats weight, measured in ounces. This ensures players don’t swing bats that are too light. For high school and college a typical limit is -3. Basically that means a 34 inch bat must weigh at least 31 ounces. Youth programs have different requirements and the difference can be -12 to -13. Check with your organization to see the restrictions.
Bat Rolling is basically a way to improve performance of a bat by artificial means. You place the bat under the pressure of rollers to accelerate the break-in process. Since testing is now done on the performance over time this method is not very useful.
2011 Bat Rules by Major Governing Bodies
National Collegiate Athletic Association – BBCOR standard will go into effect January 1, 2011. This BBCOR standard also includes ABI testing on Accelerated Break-in. No BESR bats will be allowed.
National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics – NAIA will follow the NCAA standard
National Junior College Athletic Association – NJCAA will follow the NCAA standard
National Federation of High School Athletic Associations – BESR standards will be allowed in 2011 provided those bats can meet the ABI standard. In 2012 and beyond the bats must meet the BBCOR standard.
Amateur Athletic Union – For divisions 15U and older, National Federation of High School Athletic Association rules apply but under that age group there are no restrictions.
Babe Ruth Baseball – All divisions will use of both metal and wood bats. All bats must be no larger than 2 ¾ inches in diameter and less than 42 inches in length. In Cal Ripken Division the bats shall not be more than 33 inches in length nor have a bat barrel more than 2 ¼ inch in diameter.
Little League Baseball – For major division and below bats will not have more than 33 inches in length and no more than 2 ¼ inches in diameter. No wood bats shall be printed with a bat performance factor of 1.15 or less. Junior division bats shall not be longer than 34 inches and the barrel cannot be more than 2 5/8 inches in diameter. Senior league and big league division’s bats shall be no more than 36 inches in length and no more than 2 5/8 inches in diameter. All non-wood bats shall meet the BESR performance standard and all bats should be labeled with a certification mark. There is also a moratorium on the use of composite bats in the junior, senior and big league divisions and will remain in effect until further notice.
All of these rules are subject to change without notice and we are not responsible for any omission. Please check with your specific league prior to purchasing a baseball bat. Your league can provide you will details. Please don’t purchase a bat without reviewing the rules of your league.
A few additional problems heavy bats cause
- The heavy the bat the harder it is to control thus you will strike out more.
- A heavy bat can make your upper body have to do all the work and that will cause you to pull your front foot off the ball.
- And last but not least it will slow your swing down considerably and actually cost you power.
A word of caution about heavy bats
Over the years we have always recommended the use of a light bat for most hitters. There are many reasons but one of the main ones is that heavy bats can lead to extremely poor swing fundamentals and I can assure you they will be hard to break when the player gets older.
Several well know players and coaches have said over the years that using a heavy bat can ruin your swing and we are in complete agreement with that so make sure you lean toward getting a light bat. I would choose the lightest bat I could find for the length I need.
Bat Weight Selection
- You will find most bat’s are weighted in ounces
- Bats have a weight to length ratio that applies to them.
- A -12 weight to length ratio for example means that on a 28 inch bat the bat weights 16 ounces. This is sometimes referred to as weight drop.
- You will see bats have a variety of ratio’s from -3 to -13
- Selecting weight depends on the strength of the player using the bat and to a lesser extent personal preference.
- Big strong players will usually prefer a heavier bat since they get the benefits of it being more heft but since they are strong it want slow down their swing.
- Smaller players should choose a bat that is lighter in order to increase the swing speed.
- I suggest players under 9 use the lightest bat possible by rule.
- Most of the players below 9 would benefit from a -12 or -13 drop off the length suggested in the table above.
Insider Hitting Points for a Successful Baseball Swing
Insider Hitting Point 1 – Bat Selection
Parents ask me all the time what type and size bat should they get their young player. Believe me there are lots of options and coaches have a variety of opinions on the subject.
Remember that successful hitting is more about the batter than it is the bat. The technology will only make a slight difference so don’t get caught up in it. To me it comes down to getting a bat in your player’s hands and seeing what they feel the most comfortable with. Below is a guide for you to use when sizing a bat to a player. Remember these are guidelines for average players so use your own judgment.
Bat Length Sizing Chart
|Bat Length by Age Guide|