Proper Batting Stance for Baseball Players
The success of any baseball or softball hitter starts with the proper batting stance. Batting stance is just the first of three phases in hitting. From your stance, you move into your load position, and then you decide whether or not to swing the bat before following through on either decision.
The name of the game in the batter’s box is concentration, and the best way for any hitter to focus is to be in a balanced, comfortable position to load weight on the back foot and shift it forward through the swing.
Read on to learn what, exactly, this looks like in a batting stance.
Steps to a Proper Batting Stance
If you’ve watched any level of baseball or softball play, chances are you’ve seen some pretty unique batting stances. But regardless of how a hitter stands in the box, when it comes to swinging at the pitch, everyone looks the same.
Whether you use an open stance (where the front foot is placed further from the plate than the back foot), a closed stance (where the front foot is placed closer to the plate than the back foot) or an even stance (where the feet are parallel to one another), whether you stand straight up, or you crouch down low, you want your feet to create a strong base.
Your lower half is extremely important to your swing, because your hips and shoulders should move in unison as you step into it -- keep this in mind every time you swing the bat.
Set Your Feet
The best batting stance starts with setting your feet.
- Start by aligning your feet with your shoulders, as if there is a straight line running between them.
- Now take your front foot and place it five-to-seven inches toward the pitcher. Balance is key, so a batting stance should be neither too wide nor too narrow.
- It is important for your weight to be on your back foot, with your front foot planted, so you can get your whole body behind your swing.
Align Yourself with the Pitcher
It’s also important to align yourself with the pitcher by pointing your toes and chest toward home plate and holding the bat parallel to the ground with your arms extended. The barrel (the thickest part of the bat) should cover the width of home plate, meaning your swing path goes through the strike zone. This will let you gauge how far from the plate you should stand. The whole idea of a correct batting stance is to make your swing smooth and effortless, which you can achieve by ensuring your arms are extended when swinging.
Stay Balanced, Bend Your Knees
Another key aspect is being sure to stay balanced in your batting stance. You can do this by bending your knees so you’re not standing tall -- but you also don’t want to be crouching. This will make all your movements in the batter’s box more fluid. Some hitters find balance or feel comfortable tapping their front toe or wagging their bat, but be careful not to move too much -- your main focus is to watch the pitcher and track the ball.
Align Your Fingers
When gripping the bat, you want to align your fingers by holding one hand above the other so they are touching. The joints in the middle of your fingers on your bottom hand should create a straight line with the knuckles on your top hand. The more you rotate your hands in either direction (resulting in your knuckles being misaligned), the less fluid your swing will be.
Keep Level Vision, 2 Eyes on the Pitcher
Keep a full, level view of the pitcher by holding your head up straight and turning your chin so it’s tilted down slightly toward your front shoulder. This one is basic logic: two eyes are better than one. With your head in this position, you can track the ball all the way from the pitcher’s hand to the barrel of your bat.
Raise Your Hands
Finally, raise your hands no higher than shoulder-level. Your back elbow should create a straight line to your shoulder that’s parallel to the ground, while your hands sit level with your pectoral and the bat sits raised diagonally behind your head.
It should be pretty clear now,, the proper batting stance doesn’t necessarily have to look any one specific way, but it does always end the same way. Once you feel comfortable with the basics in your stance position, you’ll be able to find a batting stance that feels best and results in a powerful swing and contact with the ball.
Try the various combinations of standing upright, crouching low, opening up, closing off and staying even, and eventually you’ll find what feels right. Ultimately, you want a batting stance that allows you to concentrate on the pitcher and gets you into the correct load position.
This article was originally published on August 4, 2014, and has been updated with new information.