Whether you’re a novice in your first season or a skilled baseball player, there is always room for improvement with your swing. You have to work at it constantly because, after all, you are trying to accomplish one of the hardest tasks in sports.
You can add personality to your swing as you become more comfortable with your approach at the plate, but the basic actions should remain intact. These key features can always be worked on and perfected, and knowing what to turn your attention to is half the battle.
START WITH THE BAT
The right bat is pivotal when you’re at the plate. You cannot reach your highest potential in the batter’s box if you are over-or under-equipped. Make sure that your bat is the appropriate length and weight for your body type and capabilities.
There are a few ways to see if your bat is the right length for you. For one, you can take the bat knob at the center of your chest, pointing the barrel to the side, parallel with your outstretched arm. Your bat should be the right size if you can touch the top with your fingertips.
As far as weight goes, hold the bat straight out from yourself and keep it suspended for as long as you can. If you can keep the bat parallel in the air for 30-45 seconds, then it is a desirable weight.
Learn more about finding a bat that’s the right length and weight in our “What You Need to Know About Youth Baseball Bats” article.
ALIGN YOUR STANCE
You cannot expect to make solid contact if your footwork is flawed from the start. To make sure that your batting stance is up to par, place your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart and get into a good athletic stance. Your step should be toward the pitcher and not open or closed off.
Also, in regard to your step, make sure you land on your heel rather than your toes. This will increase both your leverage and your rotational body speed which, in turn, should improve your hitting performance.
For more information on aligning your stance, read our “The Ideal Batting Stance” article.
USE YOUR LEGS
An all-too-common flaw in youngsters’ swings is the overdependence of arm strength. Incorporating lower body and shoulder strength not only helps better your power, but also increases bat speed. If you efficiently use your lower body and maximize your forward momentum during your swing, this should also take some strain off your arms.
A key to utilizing your legs is to channel your forward momentum into your hips. When you rotate, put an emphasis on getting your hips around and into the swing.
You should learn how to control your lower half and back side of your body.
STEP, SPIN, SWING
When working on your hitting mechanics, break the process down into simple bits and pieces. Think of it as three easy actions: step, spin and swing.
Your “step,” in this case, is your stride. This is where you will begin to build your forward momentum by rocking back and then stepping toward the pitcher. Remember to land on your heel and channel this momentum into your lower body.
As you are stepping, begin to rotate your hips to build power. This is your “spin.” Channel the momentum into your lower body and utilize your rotation as you begin your swing.
Your swing should take a circular approach around the body and be angled slightly upward for the best attack on the ball.
SWING MORE. SWING OFTEN.
There is a tendency among younger players to take too many pitches at the plate in fear of striking out. Don’t take the bat out of your own hands by not swinging. Approach the plate with confidence and let loose on the pitches you think you can hit. As always, let balls go, but if you think you can crush the ball, then by all means take a healthy cut.
KEEP AT IT
Now that you’ve focused on all of the moving parts to your swing, there is one final thing to do: keep working on it. There are plenty of tools and training aids available to help you stay on top of your skills, and they come in a number of forms. There are new digital swing analyzation tools that give players a much more detailed look into their mechanics, as well as classic (yet still effective) training aids like the batting tee.
Keep these tips in mind next time you’re in the batter’s box and don’t forget to keep practicing your swing.