Thursday, 25 August 2016

4 Ways to Hit a Baseball

Hitting a baseball is one of the hardest things to do in sports - and one of the most fun. Physical mechanics and mental focus are equally important when it comes to making good contact. Once you get the hang of it, practice as often as possible to become a better hitter.

Taking Your Stance

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    Stand in the batter's box. If you're right handed, stand in the box on the right side of home plate, and vice versa if you're left handed. Face the plate and stand about a foot back from it, so that the left side of your body (or the right side, if you're left handed) is aimed toward the pitcher's mound.
    • Don't stand too close or too far from the plate. If the pitcher throws an inside pitch, being too close to the plate will make it much more difficult to hit. Standing too far from the plate also give you less access to certain pitches. Find a comfortable medium.
    • Don't stand too close to the front or back of the box. Standing right across from the plate puts you in the best position to hit the ball squarely. After you've had a lot of practice, you can experiment with moving up or back depending on what kind of pitch is being thrown.
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    Get your feet in position. Stand with your feet roughly shoulder length apart, so that your body is balanced. Point your feet toward the plate so that your body is in position to meet the ball with maximum momentum.
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    Bend your knees slightly. Adopt a "ready" stance, which prepares you to swing with ease and force, by bending your knees comfortably. Standing with your legs straight makes for a less powerful swing. Bending your knees too much, on the other hand, puts you at a disadvantage if the pitch is a little high.

Holding the Bat

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    Grip the bat with both hands. If you're right handed, grip the bat a few inches above its base with your left hand, and grip it with your right hand right above (switch this up if you're left handed). Your hands should be lightly touching. Make your grip firm, but flexible; if you grip too tightly, you'll be less able to wield the bat properly.
    • Don't hold the bat too high or low on the grip. Your hands should be a few inches below the base of the bat. Make sure your knuckles line up.
    • Make sure your bat is the right weight for you. You should be able to comfortably grip it in the proper place. If you find yourself tending to "choke up" (move your hands up higher on the bat) in order to swing, you probably need a lighter bat.
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    Raise the bat. Hold your front elbow bent and your hands at chest level about 6 inches (15.2 cm) from your body. Raise your back elbow so that it is in a straight line with your shoulder or pointing slightly downward.
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    Cock the bat at an angle. Don't rest the bat on your shoulder, and don't hold it completely vertically. It should be cocked at a slight angle behind your head.

Swinging the Bat

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    Shift your weight and take a stride. As the ball approaches, start shifting your weight and step toward the pitcher with your front foot. You should typically start shifting a few seconds before the ball gets to you so that your body moves in one fluid motion from stance to swing. Practice makes perfect when it comes to the timing here. Eventually, you'll learn exactly when to start shifting to make sure you meet the ball with the bat right as it crosses the plate.
    • Some baseball players lift their bend their knee toward their chest before taking a stride; this isn't strictly necessary unless you feel it give you more power (or you like the flair it adds to your swing).
    • As you hit the ball and follow through, shift your weight completely to your front foot. The back foot should pivot so that your toe is touching the ground.
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    Slide your hands toward the ball. As you begin shifting your weight, start your swing by moving your hands toward the ball in a quick sliding motion, almost as though your aim is to hit the ball with the bottom tip of the bat. Straighten your arms and position the bat to make contact with the ball when it crosses the front of the plate.
    • When the bat hits the ball, your dominant palm should be pointing upward, and your other palm should be pointing toward the ground.
    • Keep your elbows close to your body as you swing for maximum power.
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    Don't forget to follow through. Let the momentum of the bat continue past the ball so that the bat almost makes a complete circle around your body. Once you make contact, flick your wrist and extend the bat pointing the end of it to the pitcher and simply finish with the bat on your shoulder. As you swing your body pivots toward the pitcher, and when you follow through you should be facing the field, with your feet still in place.

Seeing the Ball and Making Contact

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    Keep your eye on the ball. Your eyes should be on the ball from the moment it leaves the pitcher's hand until you make contact with the bat. This is where mental focus is key; if you lose sight of the ball, even for a moment, it becomes very difficult to hit. It's also important to determine whether you've got a good pitch to hit. If the ball look like it's coming directly over the plate and is in your strike zone - the area between your knees and chest - it's a good ball to hit. If it's not within your strike zone, you won't be able to make solid contact.
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    Aim to hit the ball with the bat's sweet spot. The bat should connect with the ball a few inches from the end, rather than at the very tip. You want to hit the ball squarely in the center of the bat so that it doesn't glance off the edge. Swing the bat levelly for the best chance at making good contact.
    • Don't uppercut the ball. Your arms and bat should extend more or less straight outward from the body (at the proper angle to hit the particular pitch) for maximum use of the stronger shoulder muscles. This gives you additional leverage and speed.
    • Don't chop at the ball. You want the ball to have as much backspin as possible. If you get backspin, the ball will travel much farther. Set the thumb of your non-dominant hand along the bat if you are a beginner having trouble holding the bat straight and consequently chopping at the ball. For better success swing your hands at the bat, not your arms. Your brain won't let the ball hit your hands but it will give you a better success rate at hitting the ball with the bat.
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    Drop the bat and run. Once you hit the ball, simply drop the bat to the ground. Don't toss it or throw it. This can interfere with your follow-through and potentially injure another player. Now run with all your might to first base.

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