Hitting Essentials: Understand Your Stroke

Bat speed and power depend on the actual stroke taken to the ball. This is the key to hitting, and different batters will find success with different techniques. Here’s how to find yours…

WATCH YOURSELF

  • Review your natural swing. Don’t try to impress anyone, just swing the natural way you’ve been doing all along.
  • Take dry swings while you watch yourself in a mirror, or with a coach or instructor by your side.
  • If possible, have your observer with you at a batting cage, off the tee, and against live pitches.
  • Videotape sessions so you can be your own best observer.
  • Get muscle feedback. Take dry swings with your eyes closed – to get a feel for what’s smooth in your swing from launch to finish. Can you detect any slow spots, any roughness or muscle strain?
  • Try the stop-action, checkpoint method (list on right) to see what you’re doing both before and after contact.

Now that you know what you’re doing…SET A GOAL

  • Remember. You may not have a physical problem with your swing at all – it could be you’re too focused on past performance. Or you have the wrong mental approach. Or it may be a problem caused by how you see, read and react to the ball.*
  • Focus on your #1 concern, and work only to change or improve that.
  • Do you need more consistent contact, or more power, or to pull the ball better, or to hit to all fields, or get more lift, or not pop-up so much? (If you don’t know what’s wrong, you can’t fix it!)

PICK A STROKEPick one (and ONLY one!)

  • Flat-hand one-arm finish (for more power and distance in pulling the ball)
  • Shorter, knob-first inside stroke (for quicker reaction and up-the-middle or opposite-field hitting)
  • Forward weight shift and downward stroke (to stay on top of the ball and avoid pop-outs)
  • Shoulder torque swing (to generate power but delay the bathead release)
  • Rotation and a wrist-flick on launch to create a flatter swing (more time in the plane of the ball, but earlier commitment)The compact stroke sequence…
    stroke
    To see this stroke in motion… (other bat strokes shown on some of the linked pages above.) Login to see it In-Motion.
Reminders…Reading this page, or any page, won’t make you a hitter. You’ve got to pick up the lumber and take your hacks – at home, in the cage, at a team practice, with a private instructor, and in game situations.

  • Improvement comes through small changes worked on repetitively, during practice – not in game situations. Coaches (and ballplayers) should consider their Approach to Coaching.
  • You may also have a problem that needs specific advice through ‘Ask the Coach’.
  • And you may benefit from individual instruction, in which case, check the listings in our clinic registry.
  • If it helps, break it down into the checkpoints of a swing.

Read more useful baseball tips right here.

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