Coaching Baseball Beginner Batters – The Batting Grip, the Bat Angle and Proper Hand Positioning
Hitting a baseball is a skill that can be learned and improved with proper coaching and instruction. It may be a difficult task, but with the correct fundamentals and techniques hitting can be one of the most rewarding activities in all of sports. There is nothing that is more satisfying and rewarding than hitting a line-drive in the left-center gap to help your team score the go-ahead run. Many kids experience a great sense of accomplishment while others suffer the embarrassment, disappointment, and despairs of striking out time after time. They feel that they let their team down and they often feel that they embarrass their coach and parents. The quickest way to achieving hitting success is to identify bad mechanics and correct them as soon as possible.
I will now give a brief overview of 3 aspects of a proper grip, the correct bat angle in the situation, and the process of getting the hands to the proper launch position.
1. The GRIP – knocking knuckles, (not fighting knuckles) should be aligned. These positions the bat handle in the fingers and out of the palm. This allows maximum wrist quickness and hand speed. Coaching Tip: Have kids check their grip by raising and pointing their index fingers. If they point in the same direction, they are aligned, if the point across each other, the grip is incorrect.
2. The BAT ANGLE at the start position. Keep in mind that the hands will move slowly back and away from the pitcher when the batter loads to the launch position. The bat angle will not change during the loading process. The bat should be at a 45 degree angle over the shoulder. The bat should not be wrapped or tucked behind the head, this slows bat speed. The bat should be no more that 2 to 3 inches off the top of the shoulder.
3. The LOADING PROCESS is a simple and slight movement of the hands away from the pitcher. This is a movement that is so slight that many people do not notice it. The hands are the only things that move. If the battery is noticeably shifting weight, moving feet, and moving other body parts, too much movement is occurring. Most times this movement is no more than 2 to 4 inches. It may be more for larger players. LOADING is getting the hands to the launch position from which the forward swing motion starts. Different players use different loading actions. Some batters simply move the hands straight back and batters move the hands back and up at the same time. The loading process adds power, developments important timing and rhythm, and allows the batter to achieve a comfortable ready position from which to launch swing.
COACHING POINT: Make sure that players do not line their knuckles up when you are looking and then move their hands to an "ax grip" when you walk away. One way to teach the benefits of the "finger grip position" is to have the two batters take multiple swings from shoulder-to-shoulder very quickly using the two grips. Take two batters of similar ability levels and with similar hand speed and do this demonstration. One player uses the "correct grip" and one uses the "ax or incorrect grip". Have the batters take 10 shoulder-to-shoulder swings. See which batter completes the first 10 swings. This shows the kids how much faster the hands move when the correct grip is used. Note: Make sure to move the batters at a safe distance from each other and from other players when performing this illustration.