Get a grip, already!
| 3 min read
For beginning hitters, simply holding the bat correctly is the first step in the journey of a solid at-bat. Longtime baseball coach Dan Keller shares his tips and tricks to help players establish a good hold, uh, right off the bat.
(Come on, you had to see that coming!)
Now on to those tips.
Keller likes to use a “grip trick” to help players get the bat into the correct position. A right-handed hitter stands at home plate with their left hand out and facing the ground – like they can “feel the fire,” says Keller. Their right hand should be next to the left, facing up to the sky. Lefties, reverse the hands for this one.
A coach then slides a bat between the player’s hand. They grip the bat, turn the barrel up to the sky, and lay it on their back shoulder. It’s that simple. “There’s no thinking,” says Keller. “It’s just a really easy way to comfortably grip the bat.”
Now comes the easy part. Once the bat is lying comfortably on a player’s shoulder, have them lift the bat up slightly – somewhere around 6 inches is perfect. It’s simple, easy to understand and avoids the “elbow up” cue that many coaches rely on – one that can produce negative results as much as positive ones.
Hoisting the back elbow too high can lead to a big looping swing that’s hard for young players to control. Lifting the bat from the shoulder puts the bat, elbows and arms in a good position for all young players.
“Just comfortably raise it and feel athletic,” says Keller. “That’s where your arms should be.”
Picture the area between the knocking knuckles – the second ones from fingertips, the ones you knock on a door with – and the third line of knuckles. Keeping knuckles in this zone lined up along the bat is a good way to train the hands to not roll over until after contact is made with the ball. If knuckles rotate any further, the hitter’s hands won’t be in the palm up, palm down position ideal for hitting a dinger.
Where is the best place on the bat to secure a grip? Keller has an easy trick for that, too. “One finger width up from the knob,” he says. From there, a hitter will have good length for the swing, but also a little space when their hands roll over after contact.
Dan Keller is part of MOJO’s Partnerships & Strategy team.