Maybe you already know how to hold a baseball bat, but you want to be sure you are doing it right. After all, not all coaches share the same approach and it can be confusing. It’s a simple process, though, and today you will learn how to do it properly.
When I say the process is simple I don’t mean it’s a pick-up-the-bat-and-swing affair; it’s a bit deeper than that. You will have to learn a few things about knuckle alignment, grip, launch angles, and more. I’ll dig into all of that.
To begin, let’s address a few things about baseball grips. This remains one of the most debatable subjects in baseball training.
Baseball Bat Grips
There are a number of ways to grip a bat, and any of them could be right for you. It all depends on how comfortable you are with the grip and whether it gets you the results you want. The two most popular baseball grips are the box grip and the door knocker grip.
This grip was given the name ‘box’ because of how the knuckles align. Basically, the “door knocking knuckles” on one hand align with the “punching knuckles” on the other hand to form straight lines that connect to form a boxy shape.
Of all grips, this is the most common among players. You will see it very often if you pay close attention to how professional baseball players hold the bat as they prepare to hit the ball.
The box grip feels very natural. Some career hitters admit to its effectiveness in keeping the wrists from rolling over during and before batting; however, some coaches feel that the box grip creates a loop that could cause inconsistencies in your swing. Another concern is that it is more likely to cause premature wrist roll, especially if you get the timing wrong.
Nonetheless, players of all skill levels and ages use it to get the most out of their swing. It’s especially great for power hitters because it keeps your elbow way up or back, allowing you to squeeze more torque out of your swings.
While this grip guarantees more power, that may not be what you desire in your swing. You should therefore try a different grip if you find the box grip unsuitable.
Door Knocker Grip
With this grip, your “door knocking knuckles” form a straight line. It’s not as common in the major leagues as it is in the little leagues, but if it works for you, go ahead and adopt it.
Most contact hitters choose this grip because it allows for more bat control. Unlike the box grip, it keeps the handle much closer to your fingertips which gives you extra control over your swing.
Some players don’t find the door knocker grip as comfortable as the box grip; however, as I mentioned earlier, it’s best to go for a grip that gets you desirable results. If you know how to practise baseball alone, finding a suitable grip won’t take you long.
Former MLB player Jermaine Curtis talks about the box grip and door knuckle grips in detail in this video, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses.
A Hybrid Base And Door Knocker Grip
As you explore other ways of holding a baseball bat, you will come across several other approaches from different coaches. What most of them agree on, though, is that you should hold the bat where you feel your grip strength is at its best.
For a good number of players, the sweet spot is somewhere in between the two grips, where the “door knocking knuckles” of your top hand align with the area between the “door knocking knuckles” and the “punching knuckles” of your bottom hand.
A Northern Baseball Training coach explains it clearly towards the end of this short video. This grip should get you the much sought-after palm up, palm down position when you make contact. Eventually, this should lead to greater bat speeds and more control.
Now that you know enough about baseball grips, let’s talk about how to grip a baseball bat. I’ll sum up this process in five steps.
How To Hold A Baseball Bat (A Guide For Both Right-And-Left-Handed People)
Step 1: Holding The Handle
Both hands should be gripping the bat so that you can swing it with more power. One hand should be at the bottom of the handle while the other at the top.
Start by placing the bat’s handle in your bottom hand, which should be the left hand if you are right-handed, and vice versa. I’ll tell you when to introduce the other hand.
With your bottom hand gripping the handle, place the top end of your bat on the ground. Position it in front of your left foot (for left-handers) or right foot (for left-handers). This will let you hold the bat at an angle that will get you as much whip as possible with your wrists.
Step 2: Adjusting Your Fingers
Wrap the index finger of your bottom hand around the handle, making sure it’s pointing up the barrel. Do the same with the other three fingers but keep them fully wrapped and separate from the index finger.
Do not hold the handle deep in your palms. Instead, keep it nice and loose inside your fingers to allow for more accurate hitting and bat control.
Step 3: Introduce The Top Hand
Grab the handle with your top hand in the same way you did with your bottom hand.
Remember the different types of grips we talked about earlier? This is where they come in. Keep the handle in your fingers and then adjust to a grip you feel most comfortable with and which gets you the results you want.
The good folks at Pro Speed Baseball break down in this video how to properly hold a baseball bat in your hands.
Now that you know the basics, let’s talk about the relationship between grip and swing.
Lights vs Strong Grip: How It Affects Your Swing
Once you have both hands gripping the bat, the next thing you want to focus on is balancing your grip.
As a reminder, keep the handle closer to your fingers. Hold the bat firmly but keep the grip light until you are ready to swing. Once you get going, the grip will automatically become tighter and reach its maximum strength when you make contact with the ball.
The idea behind keeping your grip light is to allow your upper body to be relaxed. Loose muscles prevent tension so that eventually, you have more control over your body which in turn leads to better bat speed and a more explosive swing.
If you were to maintain a strong grip before and during your swing, your upper body would lose its rhythm and the natural flow of your swing would be gone.
Other Things To Keep In Mind While Holding A Bat
Swing mechanics go beyond grips and swings.
Earlier I mentioned that you need to keep the handle much closer to your fingers and out of your palms, which is the only way to have more control over the bat. You don’t want a situation where you can’t hit a pitch because your hands couldn’t react on time.
You will also have to get the bat/launch angle right. This should be simple, but because it’s a process, let me explain.
Bat or launch angle is another debatable subject with different schools of thought, so do what works for you.
The two most common angles are:
- Straight up and down
- Lying flat
Straight up and down is where you hold the bat at a right angle to the ground. This will create a loop in your swing and make the bat travel a longer distance. With enough time to build bat speed, you should be able to generate more power.
Lying flat keeps the bat parallel to the ground, which means the travel distance will be shorter; however, you will have a straight path to the baseball which puts you in a better position to make great contact.
Some players want the best of both angles, so they choose a position that splits the two. This is where the bat is neither flat nor perpendicular but slanted.
Watch this video to learn more about the science of bat angles.
Power hitters definitely favor the straight up and down angle while contact hitters often settle for the lying flat angle, but if none of these angles gets you the results you want, experiment with slanted angles and compare the outcomes.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best baseball grip?
In baseball, the strongest grip possible is achieved when the palm of your top hand is facing up while the bottom hand’s palm is facing down. This is what most coaches call the palm up, palm down position.
If you were to unfold your hands in this position both should lie parallel to the surface below, but to accomplish this you first have to keep the bat in your fingers and not your palms. You also have to get the launch angle right.
Why does hitting a baseball hurt?
Bat stings happen when you fail to hit the baseball from your bat’s sweet spot. The resulting impact created by the ball causes the handle to vibrate, which in turn causes the sting. Poor swings generally lead to bat stings.
The first step you should take to prevent this, then, is to improve the quality of your swing. You could hire a coach to help you or learn from the many resources available online.
Next, check if your bat’s construction redirects energy back into the barrel. Some bat manufacturers use a two-piece design to dampen the sting from mis-hits. A one-piece bat may not be as effective, so if you have one, I would recommend you either switch to a two-piece or learn how to properly hold and swing a baseball bat.
How do you strengthen your wrist for batting?
Strong, flexible wrists can help you add that much-needed push behind the ball when it comes into contact with the bat. That’s why it’s important that you incorporate baseball wrist-strengthening exercises into your training schedule.
Some of the most effective ones you could use to make your wrists more flexible and functional include ball squeeze, wrist curls and reverse wrist curls using dumbbells, dumbbell radials, knuckle push-ups, wrist rotations, and chin-ups.
All these workouts will strengthen your wrists if you do them right. You can consult a baseball trainer for more guidance or learn from reputable coaches online.
Holding A Bat In Summary
By now you should be familiar with the basics of holding a baseball bat, but it’s also okay if you are still insecure about some of the techniques we’ve discussed. Don’t give up just yet; here’s what to do.
Go over the grip types once more, but this time around do it more slowly and if possible, practically. Follow the three steps and remember these three important things:
- Keep the handle out of your palms
- Keep your grip loose
- Maintain a bat angle that works best for you
It should be obvious to you at this point that there’s no one-size-fits-all grip or launch angle. You have to keep experimenting until you find what works for you.
All the best as you start the journey to becoming a star hitter!