Keeping hands inside the ball is the main purpose of the hands and the most widely taught hitters mechanic for all hitters. The major difference is the language used to teach the hitter you are working with. In this newsletter I am using the words that I choose to use when working with all my hitters. The words I choose to use are not always 100 percent accurate, but they are what I have found to get the point across to the girls and what allows them to “feel” (which I find to be very important) how the movement should take place.
You often hear the phrase, “take your hands to the ball” and what I have learned in working with young girls is that they take what you say literally and they actually take their knob towards the inside of the ball. The hitter will no doubt end up being level to the ball, but will likely hit the handle or inside of the bat every time. Another possibility is that the body will fly open causing the barrel head to end up on the outside the ball. This limits our chances of solid contact and can also results in a sting of the hands.
In my words, keeping your hands inside the ball simply means letting the hands (Key word is hands or knob of the bat) travel ½ way between the body and the ball. This ensures that the hands are on the inside half of the ball allowing the barrel or the sweet part of the bat to make contact with the ball. The hands continue on this path until the ball gets into the “hitters zone”. When I use the term “hitters zone” I am simply speaking about where the bat should be making contact with the ball.
Once the ball reaches the hitters zone the barrel head is released by snapping the top hand/wrist. At contact the hands should palm up/palm down and the elbows should be bent. Once contact is made the barrel of the bat pushes through the pitch all the way to extension. At this point barrel takes the lead of the swing and allows the arms to extent towards the pitcher. Once extension is reached the hands will start to travel out away from the pitcher and end with the hands on the shoulder close to the neck.
I like to use a 5 step approach in teaching this.
1) Start position – knuckles lined up, hands level of the ear, outside the arm pit
2) Slot position – I often describe this as strapping a seat belt (seems to come across better for the beginner hitters)
3) Contact – Palm up/Palm Down position, arms bent
4) Extension – Barrel takes the lead in front of the hands and arms reach out towards the pitcher
5) Finish – Arms are loose and finishing with bent elbows on the shoulder by the neck
Check out our E- Training Page for the 5 Step approach to keep the hands on path!
Learning to keep your hands inside the ball takes time and it is something that needs consistent work. It is one of the hardest habits to break and one of the hardest things in hitting to master, but once it is done the payout is huge. I am a very big believer in making sure that some sort of hands/extension drill is done at every lesson or practice due to the large payout that you gain when it is done correctly. My hitters constantly hear the words hit to the opposite field or drive the ball up the middle. In practice especially off the tee we NEVER “pull” the ball.