How to Hit a Baseball – Hitting Tips to Improve Your Swing

Your swing in baseball is one of the most important things you can work on. It will have direct consequences on how well you do in terms of batting average, extra bases, home runs, and so on. Fortunately there are a few things you can do to help make your swing sweeter and improve your batting average.

Step 1: Small Steps

One critical thing to do when you’re up at bat is take a small step toward the pitcher when you start your swing. You should do this right before you expect to hit the ball. Your step should be small. This is the key thing to remember. You want to keep the step parallel to the pitcher. You need to transfer your weight evenly from your back foot to your front foot during the swing. This is part of where you get the power in the swing. The toes on your foot should point across your body. You want to keep your step closed off and completely parallel to the mound. If you turn your toes toward the pitcher too much, it’s going to put you off balance and cause you to swing with bad timing. In fact, you will likely foul off, often towards the left if you’re a right handed batter. You want to create torque with your swing and not just spin. Keeping your feet closed and parallel and moving weight properly and seamlessly is what will create power. It’s a good idea to practice this.

Step 2: Keep Your Hands Close to Your Body

No matter where the ball is coming in, you’re going to want to keep your hands near you. When you make contact, the hand that you have on top of the bat should be palm up right around the time that you make contact with the ball. If you let that top hand roll over too much, you’re not going to drive through the ball properly and it will likely just fall a few feet from the plate.

Step 3: Keep Your Back Elbow High

Your back elbow will have to cock anyway when you’re about to hit the ball. Keeping it up will reduce the amount of time it takes for you to whip the bat around during a swing. This will improve your swing overall and make it a lot more likely that you’ll make contact. This is especially the case if the ball is coming in particularly fast. You really don’t want to have to raise that elbow at the last second.

Step 4: Pay Attention to Rhythm

Hitting a ball is all about timing. Having a good relaxed readiness is essential to hitting pitches. You have to put your body in a rhythmic mindset to give yourself the quick reactions you need to properly hit a ball coming in. A lot of professional baseball players will go through various rituals to help get into a good rhythm, trying to match up with the natural rhythm of the pitcher. One example of this is the swaying many pictures do through their legs. If you have good rhythm and if you’re relaxed enough, you’ll have better bat speed, more power, and more control over your body in general. This is because it will allow you to make quick reactions and adjustments in the split second before the ball comes in.

Step 5-Work on Your Stance

You need to try to keep your feet somewhere around the same distance as your shoulders or a little wider. You also need to make sure you keep your hands around chest level in height. It’s also possible to have your elbow too high, remember, because if it’s too high it will hit the ball at a high angle and pound it down into the ground. Your elbow should be around a 45 degree angle so that you can drive through the zone quickly. You also need to make sure that your knuckles line up on your hand, and that the hand that is furthest back away from the pitcher is the one that’s on top. You should hold the bat firmly in your grip, and make sure that you don’t let the bat just hand. Some professional players will wiggle the bat around a bit during their stance to keep themselves loose and ready, but this isn’t strictly necessary. The important thing is to hold the bat firmly and to keep it from slipping too much in any way. Otherwise you could actually lose the bat when you swing it.

This would be bat in terms of allowing you to actually hit the ball, but it would also be bad in terms of causing potential damage to people in the field by flinging your bat at them. In addition to all of that, you need to make sure your back foot is planted. You don’t want it to move at all until you begin your swing.

Step 6: Follow Through

Just making contact with the ball isn’t enough. No one is impressed by someone who can continually hit foul balls or little dribblers into the infield. You have to drive through the ball with your hips in order to really hit the ball hard. And in order to do this, you need to make sure that your hands finish high. This often means over one shoulder. You want to stay in the hitting zone for as long as possible. This will give your bat more chances to actually make contact with the ball. Your hips and belly should be pointing towards the pitcher, and your bat should wrap around your front shoulder so that it’s now pointing behind you. This can be a difficult thing to do properly when learning to swing, so it’s a good idea to practice it over and over again until you make sure you are finishing properly since it can have such a huge positive effect.

Step 7: Bend Your Knees

If you’re still having trouble hitting the ball when you’re in the box, you need to practice bending your knees more, or at least make sure that this isn’t the problem that’s making you miss. A lot of new batters will be too stiff in the box, making their swing too mechanical and slow. By bending your knees, especially right before the ball comes in; you will have a much more natural swing.

Step 8: Eye Contact

You want to keep your eyes on the ball at all times. You should pick up on it the very second that it leaves the pitchers hands, and never lose sight of it throughout the pitch. You should be able to literally watch your bat hit the ball. This will keep your swing smooth and it will make the chances much higher that you’ll actually hit the ball. One famous baseball player who was great at hitting balls was Ted Williams. He used to say that he could see the balls coming in so clearly that he could make out the seams of the ball even though it was spinning quickly. This is the level of clarity you should strive for if you want to improve your swing and you’re hitting performance.

Kevin Kerekes is a New Jersey resident and former Division I Rutgers baseball player.  He can be reached via LinkedIn.

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