Learning to throw the bat head (NOT “swing” the bat) is the foundation of a professional baseball training program. It is also the first step in developing your swing.
You should learn to feel this upper hand throwing action. You should feel the top hand throwing or whipping the bat head across the area. While the ball is being sent to home plate, you should think about throwing the cannon “behind” the baseball. The pitcher throws the ball at you and you must return the cannon to the ball.
There are three movements you need to perfect when working on your upper hand movements.
1. The first is to launch the cannon along the golf plane; really feel your hands whipping the area.
2. The second is to throw the cannon along the baseball plane and feel the same whip in your hands across the area.
3. The third is actually throwing the bat on the opposite field line.
Perform these three movements with both a regular grip and a split grip. A split grip means your hands are slightly apart an inch or so. These are simple moves and should be easy to learn, but doing them correctly is very important in developing your cannon throwing sensation.
A brief overview of each of these movements:
1. Golf plane:
The first movement you should use to develop the feel of this pitcher is to take the bat along the golf plane. Using the golf plane keeps the bat light and it keeps you loose and relaxed. At the bottom of your swing, you simply throw your top hand past your bottom.
-When performing this exercise, you just want to take that lead arm straight up and then drop it straight down. Before your head arm reaches your front foot, you should feel your hands start to work and feel the bat whip the area.
– Notice how the lead arm stops before reaching the foot, then all that works are the hands and the bat.
-It is very important that you feel that whipping sensation and as this head arm will stop before the foot, the head hand works below, the top hand works, while the bat head goes to across, then the head arm begins to move.
-While doing this drill and, in general, as a batter, you want to have a good, firm grip on the bat, but you still want to have nice loose and relaxed wrists – – good grip, loose wrists.
It’s often a good idea to separate the hands an inch or two so that you can really feel what each hand is doing independently. If you do this you really become aware of how the top hand launches the cannon past the bottom hand.
Add stride to movement:
Once the hands are feeling good and you can really feel the throw in the hands, you can add footwork – that is, add a stride or step into your throw.
– Throwing the cannon along the golf plane is a great move to use in the circle on the bridge or between throws. It helps keep the batter relaxed and ensures the hands are working properly.
2. Baseball plane:
The next move you should master to feel the cannon throw is to simply take the same move from golf plane to baseball plane.
-Once again, it is important to have a good grip on the bat and to keep the wrists very loose.
– You should also feel the head arm come to a point behind the front foot, then stop moving forward and allow the upper hand to pass past the bottom to create that whipping effect.
Note: When performing these dry swings, hitters must incorporate the release of the upper hand. This gives the batter the feeling of throwing the barrel off, throwing the barrel at the ball, and then not “hanging on” to it. Hanging on to the bat the entire swing can sometimes give the hitter a very spinning and spinning feel to their swing, which you don’t want.
A major point of emphasis: do not release until the upper hand finishes. By finishing we mean the contact with the ball AND the movement of the upper hand past the lower hand. We will also see the finishing extension of the rear arm just after contact when the top hand passes over the bottom. We won’t want to release the upper hand until we finish these back arm / hand movements.
Split grip: Again, just like on the golf plane, it’s a good idea to separate your hands an inch or even two. The split handle lets you feel what each hand is doing. Isolating the upper hand accentuates the “feel” of throwing.
3. One arm throws:
Removing the bottom hand and throwing the cannon along the baseball plane with one arm can really help a player develop the sensation of throwing the bat at the ball.
– Simply attach the head hand to the back shoulder and feel the barrel in your upper hand. Then just walk around and throw the cannon on the arm alongside the baseball plane. Start with dry swings.
-You will want to feel your hand whip the area. This whip is felt when the top hand passes over the top just after what would have been contact with the ball.
-When doing a one-arm barrel throw, you want to try and keep it square on the front side. Tying the main hand to the back shoulder would help with this.
-We really want to feel more tilt than turning on that front shoulder.
Note: In the early stages, however, it is much more important that we concern ourselves with feeling the throw rather than developing perfect form. This is a great move to feel the throwing action of the high-level hitting model’s side arms.
After developing a feeling of the upper hand throwing the barrel of the bullet and the hand whipping the barrel through the area, we can move on to the final movement to develop a feeling and belief that we are “throwing the barrel”.
4. Throw the bat itself.
You want to make sure that you set yourself up in a safe area in an open field or maybe a position in front of the net. Make sure that whoever is with you is not in front of or beside you, but rather well behind you.
-The first time we throw bats, we are not concerned with our mechanics. The purpose of this movement is to feel and see that the actions you use to swing a bat are very similar to the actions you would use to launch it.
-Focus on the step and movement aspect.
-To keep us from feeling too much spin in these throws, we want to throw our bats on the opposite field line and when we let go of the bat, our hands and body should be in the direction of the throw, again once, down the opposite field line.
– Focus on feeling a single aspect of smooth motion of the throw. It is a fluid movement. In other words, we don’t start or stop when we launch. We also don’t want to do that when we are swinging. It is a fluid movement.
Note: The step you take and the movements the rest of your body takes, including your arms, all act to give the bat head speed. Higher level swing patterns align the most with high level throw patterns.
Again, don’t worry about the perfect form of these throws. This is not an all-session exercise, but rather a movement to help you understand that the swing is essentially a throw. You can come back to it every now and then, especially if you feel yourself drifting away from the fluid throw pattern.