The Stride

Just before you swing the bat you should stride forward. This doesn’t mean that you take a big step forward. During the stride your weight is still on your back leg but moving forward and yours hands actually move in the opposite direction toward the back of your body of the catcher. Some hitters lift their foot off the ground and move it forward while others just take the weight off their front foot and slide it forward. The stride shouldn’t be too long. A few inches or more is fine. If your stride is too long you will have no power in your swing. As I mentioned, as your foot strides forward your hands will be moving backwards and once your front foot plants your hands will be in a cocked position. Keep your head still and your eyes focused on the pitch. Your weight is still mostly on your back leg. As your foot plants your weight starts to shift forward and your body becomes ready to take the swing. Practice your stride until it is perfected. Here’s Don Mattingly showing how to take a proper stride…

Routine, Rhythm and Recoil

Your routine is what you do when you enter the batter’s box. It’s just something to get yourself ready both physically and mentally to hit. Many players will tap their shoes with the bat, take a couple swings of the bat or even tap the plate with the bat. After going through their routine they will establish a rhythm.

One sometimes overlooked aspect of hitting is rhythm. You might remember the late great hitting instructor Charlie Lau mentioning that tension is one of the main enemies of good hitting. You need to get rid of tension at the plate. One way that many hitters do this is through movement of some kind. Some hitters rock back and forth slightly while others might wiggle their hips or move their elbow around. This movement loosens and relaxes your body which makes your reaction time better and your swing more fluid. Obviously you don’t want to have too much movement and you don’t want to do anything that will cause you to not see the ball coming out of the pitchers hand. A simple rock back forward and back might work the best.

Recoil occurs as the pitch is being released from the pitchers hand. It’s the shift of weight more toward your back leg in preparation for swinging the bat. For many hitters this is a subtle movement while for others it is more exaggerated. Some hitters will even lift their front foot off the ground as they rock back.

Here is a great video that puts all these factors together and gives you a good idea of how to approach the plate…

Where To Stand In the Box

Where should you stand in the batter’s box? That’s a good question. The batter’s box is six feet by four feet so there’s plenty of space to position yourself. Your main criteria should be to cover the plate. When you stand in the box the barrel of your bat should cover the entire plate when your arms are extended. If you’re too far away you won’t be able to hit outside pitches. Too close and you’ll get jammed with inside pitches. Once you have the proper distance from the plate you’ll need to make some adjustments based on your hitting abilities. Having difficulty with outside pitches? Then a slight move closer to the plate might be in order. Inside pitches getting you out? Then you should move slightly away from the plate. Whether you move toward the pitcher or toward the catcher many times depends upon the type of pitch you expect. Start in the middle of the box to begin with.If you’re facing a hard thrower then perhaps move slightly back toward the catcher. A breaking ball or knuckleball pitcher might require a slight move forward in the box.

Here’s a good video on how to position yourself in the batter’s box…