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Thread: Does the grip matter?

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    Administrator Ken Krause's Avatar
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    Default Does the grip matter?

    So, I was working with our players today on hitting when I noticed something with one of them. As I looked at her hands I could see that she was holding the bat handle deep in her palms, and her knuckles were in the "matched grip" position, i.e. the knocking knuckles on one hand were lined up with the big knuckles of the other.

    I stopped her for a moment, double checked what I thought I was seeing, and had her move the bat into her fingers and turn her hands so the knocking knuckles lined up (more or less) with each other. She then continued hitting, but with measurably better results. Instead of hitting weak ground balls and fly balls, she started blasting line drives.

    Afterwards, she was pretty pleased. I asked her if anyone had ever told her about moving the bat into her fingers before and she said no. It was the first she'd heard of either.

    Previously we had noticed she tended to let go of the bat early -- her top hand would often come off at contact, where it would hang down while the bottom hand finished pulling the bat around. We tried to get her to hang on to the bat longer but it was a struggle. After changing her grip she was holding the bat all the way through the swing without being reminded.

    Now, understand this is her first year playing travel ball. She had played rec ball and high school (including varsity last year). No' one had told her about the fingers and the knuckles, though. We didn't even think to look either. I personally assume kids know it by the time they're high school age. Apparently not.

    The girl was pretty excited about this discovery. We both commented on the big difference a small change can make. She is a very good athlete, and probably got by mostly on that. But athleticism coupled with good technique is better than athleticism alone.

    Now, there are those who will say the grip isn't that important. I beg to differ. This one simple change made a world of difference for this girl by putting her into a stronger position at contact. My guess is the bat used to get knocked back somewhat when it was in the palms. It doesn't anymore. So learn from my lesson and don't assume. If you have a hitter who just isn't hitting to her potential, or is releasing the bat too early, check her grip.

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    Certified softball maniac SBFAMILY's Avatar
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    Line up door Knuckles to Face Knuckles of bottom
    Hand. Yes it does matter. The top hand must move slide during the swing. Don Slaught tested this in a lab last summer. We were able to gain 3 to 5 on the BSI meter on hitters. We also do not teach to grip the bat with the Thumb and top finger on the top hand. The top hand must slide and the knuckles will line up at contact.. So now we use the above offset grip.

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    I can talk softball all day druer's Avatar
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    I'm on the "grip does matter" side of the fence for sure. However, I'm not a pure "knocking knuckles" have to be exactly lined up. Because there will be some sliding/movement that occurs and they will probably end up lined up at the end of the swing.

    The reason I believe the grip is important is that if the "knockers" are off I believe it forces more of a "casting" type swing because it is uncomfortable to take hands to the ball unless they are at least close to being lined up. So they have to cast. If they cast the natural movement for follow through is "rolling the wrists" and as the top hand on the bat rolls it becomes the top hand vertically and lifts the bat higher in the air than the brain just told it to go to which produces a lot of weak ground balls.

    Another big factor to me is that with the bat resting in the fingers instead of the palms the upper body stays more relaxed because it is hard to squeeze so tight that knuckles turn white and entire chest is tightened up. Holding the bat in the palms enables them to squeeze to hard, tightening up chest muscles, and then causing resistance thus slowing the swing down. (I'm guessing that the top thumb/finger being off of the bat described by SBFAMILY is for the same reason, they can't tighten up without thumb/finger on the bat. I teach a "wiggling" of the top hand fingers to ensure that they can't tighten bat at all.)

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    Administrator Ken Krause's Avatar
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    Interesting. I used to be more precise about the way knuckles lined up. I am less so now. I tell them to line up the door knocking knuckles, but don't really worry if they slip a little away. Most good hitters seem to do that. But if I don't tell them anything, they can put their hands (and arms) in a bad position.
    Ken Krause
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    Softball Junkie Mr T's Avatar
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    Personally I think there are two or three variables to talk about. Tension of the grip and depth in the palm are one issue. It is never good to grip the bat too hard, or in the palms. What your player experienced was probably a loosening of the grip and getting the bat out of the palms, both of which are easier to do with a knocking knuckles grip.

    The other issue is knuckle alignment and I don't think it's bad to start out with a KK grip.

    However, unless you believe in a linear approach to hitting, I have personally bought into the box grip as superior, at least for advanced batters who are ready to use it. As long as you keep the bat out of the palms and do not grip too hard with the top hand, the box grip delivers the goods.

    For me, just speaking anecdotally here, trying a box grip was an experience akin to what your student experienced. It was mind-blowing the power generated. It feels like I have a brick of power in top hand.

    For teaching I will probably adopt your philosophy of knocking or box, or something in-between as long as the grip is loose and the bat is not buried in the palms.

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    I can talk softball all day cwestwjg's Avatar
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    One of my DD's batting coaches is a former Razorback 3rd baseman and she taught her to tap her top hand fingers against the bat and never to close her grip until she moves toward the ball. She seems to always find her grip placement and is alot pore relaxed in the box.

    She swings the bat a couple hundred times a week and it doesn't fatigue her as much and her hands never cramp anymore.

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    Certified softball maniac SBFAMILY's Avatar
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    FFS has a good post with a picture on grip. Plus if you read some of the posts by hitter on grip they are very good. This is one of the first things we cover when giving lessons. We have started using a pony tail hair tie to remind the kids the proper grip and it works. I bought about 50 and use them with the two teams I coach and during lessons.

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