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.