No matter what kind of hitter you are, or what kind of bat you have, you could be losing precious power due to flawed technique. The steps detailed here are designed to address one issue: swinging the barrel through the path of the ball for as long as possible. If you follow these steps and develop a mechanically sound swing, you’ll swing faster and hit harder and more consistently.
Step one: Get Your Load and Timing Corrected
The first step to getting more powerful and consistent contact is learning to get behind the ball. Many young hitters develop a faulty technique that we in the baseball world call “stepping in the bucket.” This bad habit is usually due to fear of being hit by a pitch. So when a batter steps in the bucket, they are stepping out to the side towards the shortstop (for right-handed hitters) or the second baseman (for left-handed hitters) instead of straight back at the pitcher.
A step in the bucket pulls the batter off the pitch’s path and opens up their stance. Opening your stance reduces bat speed, power and plate coverage. If you’re struggling to get behind the ball, be sure to practice and develop these techniques:
- Load your upper body for the hit with a “scap pinch,” which is accomplished by pulling the shoulder blades (scapulae) in towards the spine. This motion pulls your hands back to the body and into optimum swinging position.
- Load the lower body with a “hip pinch” by slightly rotating your front hip towards the back of your stance. The hip pinch puts the lower body behind the ball and prepares the back knee for the upcoming swing.
- If done correctly, your front shoulder should be aimed at the alley in the opposite field.
Step two: Stride, Drive and Timing
“Attack the inside of the ball” might be the most oft-quoted baseball axiom that few people actually understand. Getting inside the baseball doesn’t actually have much to do with the baseball’s position, but rather the batter’s hand position.
Getting (and staying) inside the ball takes repetition to build muscle memory. You can easily accomplish this with regular tee practice that focuses solely on arm and hand position. Concentrate on slow, deliberate swings until it becomes second nature. The best tools we recommend are the Baseball Shorty Live BP Trainer and Youth Shorty Live BP Trainer. Both designs ensure there’s no sacrifice in swing quality. The hitter can work on many critical aspects to plate success: timing, bunting, being short to the ball, explosiveness, seeing the ball deep, two-strike hitting, engaging lower body, hand-eye coordination, keeping front shoulder in and avoiding dropping the back shoulder.
Step three: Get through the ball
So with the batter on and inside the ball, all that’s left is to go through it. Get through the ball by keeping the back elbow tucked into your ribs and throwing your hands straight through the ball. This swinging motion puts the bat path right where it needs to be—straight over the plate. The bat path should trace what looks like the Nike “Swoosh,” and the swing should end near the helmet earhole that faces the pitcher.
The key to successful hitting is connecting on your load and strike and letting your muscle memory take over.
Getting good contact in baseball is one of the toughest tasks in all of sports. If you succeed in getting on base in just 30% of your at-bats, you’re well onto your way to All-Stardom. But if you follow these steps, you'll get more speed and power out of your swing, and you’ll get better contact and avoid easy groundouts and pop flies.
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