Updated: Jul 17, 2020
Good hitting starts with making solid contact. Bat speed, strength, and other things that lead to power are useless if the hitter cannot square-up the ball on the sweet spot of the bat.
You will also find that, as players grow up, understanding how to make good contact guides them to better mechanics and better approaches to hitting. Players are swinging aimlessly if they do not understand proper contact.
Everyone - from beginners just starting their career, to experienced players knocking off rust or struggling with a slump - can benefit from learning or reviewing the fundamentals of making good contact.
“Square-up” the ball: The most important part of hitting the ball hard is hitting it squarely on the sweet-spot. Glancing blows are less impactful than direct contact. Use these pictures of pro hitters making contact to demonstrate the proper contact position.
Note that while each swing is somewhat unique, there are a few key fundamentals that are consistent across each of the pictures. Embrace the fact that every player will have their own style. Focus on teaching a few key fundamentals that are common among the most successful hitters:
Fundamentals of Making Good Contact
Balance is the name of the game for good contact. Balanced hitters are relaxed and focused while off-balance hitters are less free to see the ball and move properly. Notice how each of the pro hitters creates a “balance triangle” by keeping their head centered between their feet.
***Notice the various angles that hitters are leaning back. Leaning back creates lift and helps hitters match their swing to the path of the pitch. This is different than an “upper cut” where the hitter is pulling the bat upward through the strike zone.
With a good swing and timing, most hitters make the best contact when the ball is hit approximately even with their front foot or front hip. Avoid reaching for the ball or hitting it too deep in the swing.
Balance and timing are important pre-requisites for solid contact, but body position at contact is the thing that transfers power into the baseball. The pro-hitters in our pictures create a distinctive “Z” shape at the moment of impact. The “Z” indicates three pieces of solid swing:
- Solid back leg position driving energy into the hitting area
- Balance and posture connecting the legs and arms together
- Proper back-arm position near 90-degrees and with elbow “connected” to the body
***Note that the hitter’s head is always even with or behind the line created by their back leg and hip. Leaning forward leads to weak contact.
For tee ball and other beginners, don’t worry about teaching a batting stance at this point. Tell players to “get ready to swing hard” and see what they come up with, while reminding them about their goal - the ideal way to square the ball.