Baseball & Softball Hitting: Qualities of a Great Batting Stance

IMG_0795This post and the following three will all deal with hitting. I feel comfortable discussing both baseball and softball hitting together.  There was a point where I wasn’t so comfortable.  When I first spent time around fast-pitch softball players, I heard some coaches say that the softball swing was totally different from a baseball swing.  So, I sat back and watched.  I saw girls having the same problems as boys.  I saw myself giving the same advice to female hitters as I would with a male hitter.  The major difference that I had observed was that some of the girls had holes in the backs of their helmet for ponytails.  Ultimately, hitting is hitting. 

We can get into the baseball and softball difference of pitching angles and hitting approach on off-speed pitches at another juncture.  I am going to present, what I consider to be, universal fundamentals of both baseball and softball hitting.

Let’s begin with what is most commonly referred to as the STANCE.  I’ve always preferred the term “rest position”.  I like that term better due a difference in connotation.  For example, “stance” connotes readiness but with stiffness and rigidity.  Try this, walk up to players and say, “Show me your stance.”  More often than not you will see a mechanically sound product, but take a closer look at the player’s forearms, neck, jaw, and legs.  You will see muscle tension.  “Rest position” connotes comfort and relaxation which is much more conducive for focus and overall success.  Promoting a proper mental framework at the plate starts with the stance…. Oh sorry, I meant rest position. 

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So what does it look like:

  • Weight distribution at 40/60.  4o% of the hitter’s weight is on the front foot and 60% on the back foot.  Weight should be on the balls of the feet.
  • Knees comfortably flexed and positioned inside the feet.
  • Feet parallel to slightly pigeon toed.  This will ensure that later on in the swing the big muscle groups in the legs will be allowed to do their job. One of the easiest corrections, seldom made for many youth through high school hitters fixing “duck toes” or both toes pointing outward with the back foot be the most blatant. These hitters are typically all arms and have very little pop.  The sad part is many of those same hitters have tremendous hand-eye coordination, but due to bad foot position from the start, singles and doubles are turned into easy outs.
  • Feet should also be one and a quarter to one and a half of shoulder width.
  • Hands should be shoulder to ear hole of the helmet high and 4 to 6 inches from the body. This will vary greatly. It is really most important where the hands go after this point. I will further address the hand in the next post.
  • Forearms should be in the shape of an upside-down letter “V”. DO NOT resort to the old-school advice, “Get that back elbow up.” I cringe when I hear that from someone in the crowd.  It usually works against the next step in this sequence…. the grip.
  • Bat should be held in the fingers, not in the palms of the hands.   The “door knocking knuckles” should be aligned.  There are many tricks for getting the correct grip.  One of my favorites is to have the player point both index fingers while holding the bat. If they go in the same direction, the grip is correct.
  • The hitter should maintain a tall backside and keep his/her head equidistant between both feet.
  • Both eyes should be level and facing the pitcher.

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In the next post, I will discuss the next step after the rest position.  My favorite name for this position is “launch”.  It is also referred to as the slot, trigger, load, and etc.  No matter what you call it, it is the negative movement needed on every pitch in order to initiate a great swing.

I hope you enjoyed this post. As always, please feel free to comment.

If you enjoyed this post you might like the following posts:

https://coach5150.wordpress.com/2009/07/24/how-to-get-baseball-softball-players-into-an-effective-pre-pitch-or-ready-position/

https://coach5150.wordpress.com/2009/06/22/tips-for-baseball-pitchers-finding-target-line/

2 comments on “Baseball & Softball Hitting: Qualities of a Great Batting Stance

  1. Coach Justin says:

    I have found that trying to coach a stance is like trying to teach someone to have freckles or have fingers. In other words, it’s not something you teach because it is inherent. The same goes for bat speed or pitch speed some things you cannot teach. In saying this, I don’t think that the stance is important at all as long as there is a basic idea of balance. It’s what happens after the ball is pitched that matters.

    To support what I’m saying, look at major league baseball players stances. Cal Ripken Jr. had a different stance every year of his career and he’s in the HOF. Stance is a starting point not a point of emphasis.

  2. Jeff says:

    Great blog post! One of my favorite baseball hitting tips is relaxation which you mentioned above. It’s one thing to feel it and realize that you’re tense.

    It’s another thing to actually see the video of it. I recommend to people that they should tape themselves every now and then to study and break down what they may be doing wrong.

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