Correct Hitting Position is Crucial for Hitting Success
When hitters set up incorrectly, rarely is good contact the result. Having an incorrect grip, wrong distance from the plate, unorthodox batting stance, or wrong bat angle, inhibits the ability to hit consistently and with power. Hitters can have their own style, but good hitting coaches allow style variations only when batters demonstrate they can arrive at the correct hitting position after the stride and to the correct contact position at ball strike. Most young hitters cannot achieve that correct hitting position from different hitting styles so starting them in the best setup position possible is best. Keeping the setup as simple as possible is best for all hitters. It is important to remember that once habits are developed, they are very hard to change, so attention to little details is important.
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Giving players concrete ways of understanding and performing the correct mechanics is necessary. Hitting begins with a good grip. Kids know how to hold a cell phone and grabbing the bat is similar. The bat should sit across the upper palms with the fingers first circling the bat handle before the thumb and hand wraps around it. Fingers have enormous strength, especially as they get stronger from swinging with the correct grip. A good way of checking for the correct grip is to be sure hitters can maintain a palm up palm down hand position after contact, as seen here in the video.
Hitting Position for Hitting Success
Once the grip is established, the correct distance from home is necessary. It is good to show kids the sweet spot on the bat so they know which part of the bat should be over home plate with the correct swing of having the elbows close to the body on the approach to contact. Beginning ballplayers should set the bat down with the end of the bat touching the outside corner and place their feet at the end of the bat. Experienced players should reach out with their lead hand on the bat and their knees bent and touch an inch or two beyond the outside corner. Touching further puts them too close and being unable to reach the corner prevents plate coverage. Something as simple as standing the wrong distance from home plate leads to an incorrect bat path.
An even stance, where both feet line up the same distance from home plate, is best for young hitters. Slightly closed or slightly open stances are OK but exaggerated stances as seen here are generally not advised as they often create obstacles to good hitting fundamentals and should only be employed by experienced hitters.
It is also best to start hitters on the balls of their feet with the knees slightly bent. Having hitters stand on a two by four or having them jump a little explains the balls of the feet. The distance the feet are set apart is personal preference as long as the previous setup points are performed correctly, with the feet slightly wider than shoulder width the most preferred distance.
Good Hitting Position Gives Hitting Success a Chance
Setting the bat barrel at the correct bat angle is an absolute key for success. The knob of the bat points down and slightly back towards the catcher and can be achieved in a variety of ways, as shown in the video. Hitters will notice that the bat becomes very heavy quickly when held in a manner other than the correct way, as evidenced by holding the bat with just one hand.
Setting the bat no further away from the shoulder than a hand distance towards home plate is best, as things closer to the body are stronger. Hitters should begin their swing from about two inches back of the rear shoulder and shoulder height. Setting the hands there to begin, or starting the hands slightly forward of that position and loading back to that spot, are the best alternatives. Finally, hitters should begin with level shoulders, hips, and knees and with elbows level or with a slightly lower front elbow. As mentioned, keeping the initial setup simple is best for young and experienced hitters.