The Baseball Swing

June 2, 2009

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The Baseball Swing

Hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in sports. You have to hit a round ball with a round bat, squarely. And that round ball is often dancing, tailing into you, cutting away, curving, splitting, sinking, knuckling, or sliding. You have a split second to decide whether you should swing at it, take it, or get out of its way. So how do big-leaguers do it? How does Manny Ramirez make it look so easy? How does Ichiro collect 200-hit seasons as if they are baseball cards? How does Chase Utley consistently hit line drives you can hang your laundry on? They all have great swings.

 

The baseball swing is made up of a few key components.

 

Grip

The grip is important because it’s the only physical contact you make with the bat. Hold the bat in your fingertips, not your palms. When you hold the bat in your palms, you restrict your swing. When you hold your bat in your fingertips, you can swing freely and easily, with maximum range of motion.

 

Stance

When you step into the batter’s box, stand with your feet no more than shoulder width apart. Stay relaxed and bend your knees. Hold your hands in a comfortable position, right around shoulder height.

 

Stride

When the pitcher is about to deliver the ball, take a short, balanced stride, no more than 2-3 inches straight toward the pitcher. Some players, like David Wright, just pick up their front heel and put it back down. When you stride, it is important to keep your head level. If you don’t, the ball will appear to bounce up and down on its way to home plate, because that’s exactly what your eyes are doing.

 

Load

The load is the trigger of your swing. When you throw a punch, you don’t just move your fist forward, you coil it backward first. The same applies to the baseball swing. This coiling action serves two purposes:

 

· Generates power

· Helps you time the pitch

 

To load, make a slight movement, like picking up or dropping your hands, or coiling your front shoulder back. Avoid dramatic movements, like the sledgehammer waggle of Gary Sheffield. It works for him, but for most players, it can only slow the swing down.

 

Power Turn

Move the barrel of the bat directly to the ball. Don’t loop, or “uppercut,” and don’t cast the bat as if you were casting a fishing line. Lead with your hips, rotating them toward the pitcher. Keep your hands back until you finish your hip rotation. This will help you adjust to different kinds of pitches and different locations. Most of all, maintain your balance and keep your head level, and looking right at the ball, throughout the swing.

 

Follow Through

After contact, extend the bat toward the pitcher, then let the barrel swing around you naturally – it’s important to finish your swing.

 

Practice

Of course, practice makes perfect when it comes to baseball hitting. Hitting drills in baseball can help you master the swing. In addition, there are tools available to help you practice with a purpose.

 

One of the most important aspects of the swing is balance. Tools are available from companies like A-Game Technology (www.agametechnology.com) to help you maintain your balance. The Batter’s Edge training tool, for instance, teaches you to take a straight stride, stay balanced, and keep your head level. By standing on its narrow platform, you have to stay balanced. The Batter’s Edge is one of the most useful tools among baseball training equipment.

 

So, remember to stay balanced, keep your head level, move the barrel of the bat directly to the ball, and follow through. And most of all, practice. Before you know it, you’ll be taking your game to a new level.

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