If you have been following this site, you know I am obsessed with bat speed. Increased bat speed always leads to more power and consistency. Here is a quick and easy tip to actually SQUEEZE more power out of the softball and baseball swing.
While working with one of my college softball hitters, I stumbled upon another simple way to generate more bat speed. This hitter was having difficulty controlling her bat throughout the swing sequence. The bat head would drop as it entered the hitting zone causing her to hit too many weak fly balls. Losing the attack angle of the bat too early is a common flaw that I see in hitters at every level. Here is a picture of the ideal 45 degree attack angle hitters should try to maintain as long as possible:
In an effort to maintain the attack angle to hit the ball with more authority, I asked this hitter to strengthen her grip on the bat. After only a few swings, she was hitting more hard line drives. I also noticed her bat looked faster, so I decided to conduct an experiment.
Using a bat speed measuring device, I asked her to take a few swings with the original weaker grip and then some swings with a firmer grip. The results were encouraging. Her bat speed was 2-3 mph faster by maintaining a firm grip throughout the swing sequence.
She and I decided to explore the limits of a firm grip. I asked her to squeeze the bat as tight as possible. The next few swings startled both of us. Her bat speed increased even more (another 2-3 mph), but more importantly, the ball was going noticeably farther. These promising results were all she needed to incorporate this “vice grip” into her hitting approach.
A very tight grip is not for every hitter. Some feel it restricts their ability to react to pitches on the edges of the strike zone. Others feel it makes them too tense. I understand these concerns and would never force a hitter to adopt a hitting key that is too uncomfortable.
Just for fun, I tried a very tight grip while playing golf and tennis. My tennis serve and ground strokes are more powerful when I squeeze the racquet, but I am too inconsistent. Surprisingly, it really helped my golf swing. In addition to more distance with all my clubs, I feel like I have more control of my swing. My golf friends are amused by my new theory, but they are very skeptical.
Squeezing the bat is not one of the core components in the hitting template I teach. It is optional for my hitters, but many find it helps them gain better bat control and more power. Like my article on grunting for more power, this is another tool that could give hitters a competitive advantage and more confidence.
About Paul Petricca
In addition to writing this hitting blog, Paul is the hitting coach for Roosevelt University Softball in Chicago and the author of the book Hitting With Torque: For Baseball And Softball Hitters. He also is a public speaker and provides unique customer engagement training through his company Torque Consulting. Paul teaches a Customer Relationship Management class to undergraduates at Wheaton College (IL) and MBA candidates at Loyola University Chicago, DePaul University and the Benedictine University Asia Program