Develop the Perfect Baseball Hit
You remember the feeling of standing at the plate and focusing on the airborne baseball as it zooms towards your strike zone. Seconds later, the ball makes contact with your bat’s sweetspot and you hear the pleasing crack of the bat as the baseball is flung beyond the reach of the outfielders. Help your young batters create similar lasting memories of baseball by teaching them the ins and outs of baseball batting.
Before stepping up to the plate, make sure your players warm up their arms and legs. Do simple stretches or exercises to warm up and loosen muscles as batters will not play to their full potential with cold muscles. Have the players take practice swings as they watch the pitcher throw and time their own swings to the pitches.
When it is their turn to bat, remind each player to relax and stay calm as nerves can affect the timing of their swing. Instruct them to stand in the middle of the batter’s box with feet shoulder width apart and pointed towards the plate. Straight legs allow for a less powerful swing, so knees should be slightly bent for greater power and ease. As the pitcher prepares to pitch, your batters should focus on the baseball to decide whether it is a strike or foul. A baseball pitched in the strike zone, the area over the plate between a batter’s knees and chest, is good to hit. If the ball is a strike, they should aim to hit the ball with the sweetspot of the bat, a few inches from the end of the barrel, for the most power. Once the ball is hit, they should simply drop the bat and run. Tell the players not to toss or throw the bat to avoid causing injury to another player.
A baseball bat can have a big affect on a player’s batting so it is important to choose the best bat for your all-stars in training. Baseball bats are commonly made of wood, aluminum or composite and are available in a variety of lengths and sizes. When holding the bat, have your batters place their non-dominant hand a few inches above the base of the bat and their dominate hand directly above it, so their hands are slightly touching. If you find that they are choking up or moving their hands up higher on the bat, the bat is probably too heavy and they need a lighter bat. The youth baseball league may have specific bat requirements that are intended to limit the maximum ball speed for wood and non-wood bats. Keep in mind the following when selecting a bat:
- Wood baseball bats have the traditional appearance and make a crack sound (as opposed to the metal ping) when the bat connects with the baseball. The major leagues only use baseball bats made of wood.
- Aluminum or metal baseball bats can hit a ball faster and farther, compared to a wood bat, with the same power. Because of this, aluminum bats must meet BBCOR standards to be used in many leagues. Baseball bats that exceed the BBCOR standard are often unsafe for pitchers as the higher speed of the baseball makes it harder for pitchers to get out of the way of a batted ball.
- Composite bats, originally used in slow pitch softball, are made with carbon fibers for better durability, greater trampoline effect and less hand sting. The trampoline effect, the bounce of a baseball off the bat after contact, can increase over time in composite bats, leading to many restrictions on composite bats. Since the greater speeds of composite bats pose a greater risk to Little League fielders and pitchers, composite bats used in Little League play must have a BPF 1.15 rating. This rating keeps the trampoline effect at Little League-safe levels.
As you never know when a pitcher might throw a wild pitch, anyone who is batting, waiting to bat or running the bases should wear the following protective gear:
- A batting helmet that is in good condition and fits properly. If the batting helmet has a chin strap, it should be fastened and any eye shield or faceguard needs to be in good condition.
- While not mandatory, batting gloves are worn by most players for comfort, the prevention of blisters and to help absorb shock when hitting the ball.