Hitting - How to Grip the Bat

Key Points to Remember:

1. Line up your knuckles on the bat within the range described.
   We want a grip that allows us to make contact with our bottom hand palm down and our top hand palm up.
   We want a grip that will allow us deliver the bat head to the ball (see "Bat Lag" below for an explanation)
2. Grip the bat out on the pad and fingers of your hands.
3. Make sure you keep your hands relaxed. Grip the bat firm but not tight!

Before You Practice

Activity

Look at the image below which shows Ken Griffey Jr. and Manny Ramirez close to contact. We want to get to the contact point trying out different knuckle alignments on the bat.

grip examples

  • Pick up your bat and align your middle knuckles and take a half swing (to point of contact) and hold.
  • Make sure your bottom hand is palm donw and top hand is palm up.
  • Check to make sure your shoulders are not level. We want some shoulder tilt!
  • Now start over with a different grip and try to feel the effect the grip has on getting your hands to the palm up - palm down contact position
  • Does it seem easier to get to that position with one grip vs. another?

Practice

Now that you've watched the video on how to grip the bat it important that you try it out. Watch the video below on how to practice picking up the bat correctly and how to try out different grips to get a feel for the grip that works for you.

What to watch out for: This next video will work you through some different grips and it's important that you get a feel for what a tense grip feels like versus a relaxed grip. As you move forward in your hitting lessons and hit in games you will have difficulty if you don't have a proper relaxed grip on the bat. Tension in a swing will most likely start in the grip!

Things to Consider

Palm up - Palm down: The alignment of the knuckles can be one element that either helps you or hinders you from getting to a palm up - palm down position at point of contact. I find that if I align my middle knuckles on the bat I have a harder time getting to a palm up - palm down position and I have a tendency to roll my wrists too early. If I go to the other extreme and line up my middle knuckles of my bottom hand with the big knuckles of my top hand I feel that I have a difficult time keeping the bat out on my hands, I feel more tense, and I feel like I have to force the shoulder tilt to happen in order to get into the proper position, rather than letting it happen naturally. So for me, I'm most comfortable being right in the middle.

Bat Lag: We'll discuss "bat lag" in more detail in further lessons but for now I want to give you a basic idea of what it is along with how your grip can affect it. Bat lag is a term used to describe the relationship of the bat head to the hands as the swing progresses towards contact. As the body turns during the swing the hands will come forward but the bat head should be left behind until the last instant when the bat head is whipped by the wrists (primarily by the top hand) forward to contact to generate a tremendous amount of bat speed. The image on the left shows how the bat head is left behind and is about to be delivered to the ball by the top hand and the wrists. Whenever you grip the bat, you need to make sure that you can move your wrists well or you won't be able to properly deliver the bat head to the ball. Closing your grip past the recommended range either way will inhibit your ability to use your wrists to deliver the bat head to the ball. This will give you a slower and less powerful swing. Tension in your grip will also have the same effect as tight muscles will reduce your ability to quickly deliver the bat head to the ball.

Conclusion

You need a grip that you feel comfortable with and confident in. A slight adjustment to your grip may help you if you're having a specific problem. For example, if you are constantly topping the ball, then you may be rolling your wrists early and closing up your grip (moving the middle knuckles on your bottom hand closer to the big knuckles on your top hand) may help. If on the other hand you are popping up the ball on a regular basis, getting your middle knuckles a little closer may help you come through the hitting zone on a better path. Obviously there are many reasons why certain problems can happen, so when trying to correct those problems, make small adjustments one at a time and you'll soon get yourself straightened out.

Finally, make sure you don't grip the bat too tight. We want to avoid tension in our swing and the first place that this will happen is in the grip. So always guard against it.

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