Baseball Brains is a group of players, coaches, and athletic trainers who help others in our field become more successful and knowledgeable.
Why We Need Power
Hitting for contact is good. There's nothing wrong with being able to hit a groundball through the right side on a hit and run, or slapping a single over the shortstop with two outs in the inning. Coaches love hitters that can hit for contact, especially if they're fast runners. It puts pressure on the defense and gives the coach a lot of options when it comes to strategy.
However, contact alone is not enough for most players. They need to be able to crush the ball, slam one into the gap for a triple, or knock a few over the fence now and then. Power at the plate can make or break a player's career and can make a huge difference in the team's success or failure.
So let's find out how to hit more home runs!
Tip 1: Use Your Legs
You'll never hit the ball very hard if you're just using your arms and hands. It's also unlikely that your bat path will be the way it should be if you're not rotating your hips and core correctly as you swing (more on this later).
"Use your lower half" is a very big piece of advice so let's get a little more specific. Your legs and hips should be very active in the swing. Your initial stance should be wide and your legs should be bent. You should be able to drop the bat after you're in your stance and feel like you could guard a shooter on the basketball court, or play defense on a soccer field.
This requires balance, athleticism, and the ability to explode from that position. You should be able to move back and forth and stay inside your legs. Not rocking up onto each leg, but athletically shifting while never leaving that strong stance inside your feet.
The Order of the Swing
- Wide feet
- Knees bent
- Stay inside your legs.
- Load slightly back before the pitch.
- Shift forward into the pitch.
- Front heel hits the ground.
- Front leg stiffens, stops weight shift.
- Hips and core rotate hard.
- Arms and hands fly through.
- Bat whips through the zone.
- Home run!
Tip 2: Strengthen Your Front Leg (Or Both)
Obviously we need strong legs to be athletic and explosive. The reason I want to point out the front leg is because that's the one that's going to stop our weight shift and momentum, and turn it into strong rotation. The stronger the front leg is, or more to the point, the more conditioned it is to stabilize our bodies, and the more aggressive we can be with our weight shift.
Standing in one place and swinging a bat is one way to do it, but a better way is to drive your body and your body weight into the pitch as it's coming your way. As your front foot gets down on the ground your front leg stiffens. This causes powerful rotation to happen to bring your bat through the zone. If your front knee bends or wobbles, your ability to drive the ball with power will be very limited.
Tip 3: Strengthen Your Core
Once the bottom half is strong and active in your swing, the next part you want to be active is your core (abs, obliques, lower back). Your legs will load your body up and shift your body weight into the ball, and then we need our hips and core to unload into the ball.
Your arms and hands will just follow your core rotation so don't think of the baseball swing as something you do with your hands. Instead, view it as something that happens from the ground up, piece by piece, and then ends with the bat (and your hands) whipping through the zone.
Your core is a central piece in all of baseball, so anything you do to strengthen it will help you all over the field. Medicine balls work great for this, rotational exercises, anything that requires your core to control the movement. Hitting with power requires a strong core!
Tip 4: Get Some Life in Your Bat
The bat needs to be alive in your hands, not a dead piece of wood or aluminum. Don't wrap the bat around the back of your head or dump it all the way down behind you either. Keep a good grip on the bat and keep your swing short to the hitting zone.
We don't want to swing down at the ball, we want to swing down into the zone. Down at the ball means we hit the ball with inconsistent contact a lot of times and slice the back of the ball with our bat. We want to come into the hitting zone directly behind the baseball to maximize our chance of making solid contact.
The bat should be in the same rhythm as your body, there's nothing to be gained from standing still like a statue. Get in a solid rhythm and be athletic!
Tip 5: Use a Bigger Bat
Just as we don't want to have a dead bat, we also don't want to have one that's too light. Bat speed is good, but it doesn't do nearly as much if we're swinging a bat that doesn't weigh enough. Force = mass (bat weight) times acceleration (bat speed).
So don't underestimate how important the mass of the bat is and swing the biggest bat that you can handle well and swing hard. You should feel totally comfortable with the bat and be able to control the bat very well. Go as heavy as you can while still being able to do these things, and you'll have the most powerful bat for you.
The other thing that bigger bats provide, is a bigger barrel and bigger sweet spot. The sweet spot is the point in the barrel with the most hitting power. The end of the bat or the handle area will not provide good power to the ball, they will just vibrate your hands! Bigger bat equals bigger sweet spot.
Tip 6: Keep Your Eyes on the Ball
This one goes under the category of how to hit a ball, period. But if we're going to hit a ball with power, we need to keep our eyes and body on the ball as long as possible.
When people try to hit the ball hard, they often will "fly open" or pull their front shoulders out and away from the ball when they swing. This makes it feel like you're swinging harder, when in fact you are doing nothing but making your swing longer and reducing your chances of making solid contact.
To make the most solid contact, and thus hit the ball the hardest, we have to keep our eyes on the ball and keep our front shoulders in there for the swing until after we hit the ball.
After all, the balls that fly the furthest off the bat are the ones that hit the sweet spot. No matter how hard you're swinging, hitting the ball on the right part of the bat is the first ingredient in hitting with power.
Tip 7: It's Not All About Power
Even though we're talking about hitting the ball with power, it's very important to understand that a lot of pitches that you get will not be possible to hit with power. Sometimes we have to hit a low and outside pitch to right field because we have two strikes or somebody is on base, and we may not be able to hit that ball with much power.
The key is to learn to hit every pitch that's close to the strike zone and understand that you will get a few pitches now and then that you can hit for real power. If you do hit home runs or doubles to the wall, those will be the result of having a great approach and super athletic swing, and then a pitcher making a mistake and throwing you a pitch that you can crush.
If your only goal is to hit everything with great power, you'll over-swing at a lot of pitches that you could have gotten a base hit on with a better approach.
Tip 8: Talk to Coaches for Help!
There are tons of great ideas all over the internet, just be careful that the information you're getting will work for you as an individual and you're not trying to fit yourself into a perfect box meant for someone else.
When it comes to hitting, power is what everyone wants! Let us know in the comments if you can think of other ways to hit with power, we know they're out there!
© 2014 baseballbrains
baseballbrains (author) on October 23, 2014:
Thanks RonElFran! I wish we never had to stop playing baseball, it's such a great game. It does happen though, swinging that bat gets harder and harder. Give it a try though, you might surprise yourself after all those years! Thanks for stopping by, I really enjoy your hubs and appreciate your support. Thanks!
Ronald E Franklin from Mechanicsburg, PA on October 23, 2014:
My baseball playing days are long past, but this seems like such good advice I'm ready to go find my bat and get out on the field! Good job.