By Rod Carew
Rod Carew was voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991. He won seven American League batting titles and retired with 3,053 career hits. One of baseball's most sought-after hitting instructors, Carew has seen players such as Jim Edmonds, Garrett Anderson, Troy Glaus, Darin Erstad and Torii Hunter blossom under his watchful eye. Rod’s useful hitting tips on becoming a great hitter will appear regularly at www.rodcarewbaseball.com.
For decades upon decades, from Ty Cobb to Mickey Mantle to Tony Gywnn to Miguel Cabrera; Major League Baseball’s finest hitters have taken hold of a bat in the fashion that suited them. And, in doing so, they all held tight to successful careers with an assortment of batting titles, All-Star selections, and even Hall of Fame enshrinement.
The moral of all their individually triumphant stories is that there are no absolutes when it comes to gripping a baseball bat…just as there are never any absolute concepts regarding how to successfully hit a baseball.
In your quest to become a successful hitter, every step holds its share of importance and the simple act of picking up a bat and gripping it is just as important as any other aspect.
In general, common sense and being comfortable are the biggest keys to getting the proper grip.
Most hitters simply lean on the theory of doing what is most comfortable, which often centers on holding the bat in an area of the hands where the palm ends and the fingers begin, the alignment nothing more complex than simply lining up one’s knuckles. By this, I am referring to the knuckles on the first joint of each hand lining up with each other.
There is nothing at all wrong with this particular grip; the only negative is that it’s the only grip most coaches teach. But if it’s a grip you are uncomfortable with, it’s not the grip for you.
Like any aspect of hitting, experimenting is key. Experiment with your approach, experiment with what bat you’ll use, experiment with the GAPHitter, and experiment with just how you apply your grip.
Pick up a bat, grab hold and let your fingers tell you what’s best. It’s important to be as natural as possible, not putting the bat in any position too drastic, not too far forward in your fingers or too far back in your palms.
Of just as much importance is not to grip the bat too tightly. Tension is the enemy, it prevents you from generating bat speed as your wrists and forearms are tied up in knots, much the same predicament you’ll likely be in at the plate.
My preference was to very lightly grip my bat with my bottom hand – which was my right hand since I hit from the left side of the plate. My bottom hand would exert a very small amount of pressure, acting almost like a rudder to keep my swing on course, while my top hand grips the bat handle loosely, gripping it tighter as the pitch leaves the pitcher’s hand. Of course the top hand should never grip too tightly, it should be firm, but not tight. This notion and approach allows you to be a relaxed hitter and, therefore, a more flexible hitter.
How you grip a bat might seem like a rather simple and elementary task, but it’s a very important step on the road to becoming a standout hitter.