Take the fat part of the bat to the ball

One of those hitting cues that has been around for years is “take your hands to the ball,” or its cousin “take the knob of the bat to the ball.” The idea is to give hitters something specific to do to get online with the flight of the pitch as it comes in.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t really work. Unless you’re planning on hitting the ball with the knob of the bat — what I call “pool cuing” the ball — taking your hands or the knob of the bat to the ball actually puts you in a poor position to hit the ball. It leads to dropping the hands among other things, and actually does more to take you off-line than put you on line, particularly since it will cause the barrel of the bat to be above the hands rather than below.

A better cue is to tell hitters to take the fat part of the bat (the barrel) to the ball. It sounds simple, but it makes perfect sense. Of course, there are several things that occur prior to that point, but when it comes to how to take the bat to the ball, the focus is on the fat part. Do that and you’ll find you hit a lot more.

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About Ken Krause

Ken Krause has been coaching girls fastpitch softball for nearly 20 years. Some may know him as a contributing columnist to Softball Magazine, where he writes Krause's Korner -- a regular column sponsored by Louisville Slugger. Ken is also the Administrator of the Discuss Fastpitch Forum, the most popular fastpitch discussion forum on the Internet. He is currently a Three Star Master Coach with the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), and is certified by both the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) and American Sports Education Program (ASEP). Ken is a private instructor specializing in pitchers, hitters, and catchers. He teaches at North Shore Baseball Academy in Libertyville, IL and Pro-Player Consultants in McHenry, IL.

Posted on March 20, 2009, in Hitting. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Ken, I’m not sure I understand. I have always liked those sayings and feel they are good for the kids to know and most importantly, understand. Under the assumption that the kids have been taught to hit the ball out in front of the plate and to keep their hands by the shoulder while rotation begins, I think it makes a lot of sense. You teach them to keep their hands by their back shoulder until they commit to the swing. Then you bring your hands to the ball – that means bringing them forward towards the pitcher (where the ball cames from) and to the plane of the ball – the plane that is shoulder to hands to end of bat (point of contact) where the ball will go through. I cannot see what you mean by the barrel being higher than the hands unless they do it before rotation begins. The hands should extend out at the same angle the shoulders are tilted – level for a high pitch at shoulder height and angled down to the ball at anything lower. The only time the barrel would be higher than the hands is if they were swinging at a ball over the shoulder level – which we all hope they aren’t doing, or if they drop them to the level of the ball before they begin rotation – and that is not the intent behind these sayings.If they haven’t been taught to keep the hands by the back shoulder while rotation begins and haven’t been taught to hit the ball out in front of the plate, then I could see what you mean by dropping the hands. If they have been taught those two things though, then I think telling them to bring their hands or the knob to the ball makes a ton of sense. So maybe it is the sequence of when they are told to do so that is the issue?

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  2. The good thing is that Ken works in the area and works with local girls on Saturday mornings in a group clinic, my daughter included. So I got a chance to talk to him about this. After we discussed it I was able to go home and look at video (specifically A. Pujols). Here is a good link to see the breakdown of his swing in frame by frame motion: http://www.chrisoleary.com/projects/Baseball/Hitting/RethinkingHitting/Essays/BreakingDownAlbertPujolsSwing.htmlI now understand Ken’s concern and agree with not using the knob to the ball term. The concern is that they actually begin to bring the knob to the ball for an extended distance and then lose the rotational power they generated. It ends up where the swing only uses the forward motion generated by pulling/pushing forward while bringing the knob forward to the ball – therefore losing the rotational power and making the hitter make contact too far out in front. I think I still like the term of brining the hands to the ball…with the explanation it is to direct the height of the hands. If the pitch is high, then the hands go high, while still being locked into the shoulder area when rotation begins. If the pitch is low, then the hands, while staying near the shoulder, lead low – this should help achieve the angle the shoulders need to be to best meet the ball. Thinking about it, I think this should help prevent the back shoulder from dipping – if the hands lead forward at an angle, then the back shoulder should follow suit and doesn’t have a chance to dip. So I will stop using those terms in regards to moving the hands forward – I see now the danger and how they are misleading. I will restructure the meaning behind bringing the hands to the ball, and relegate it to helping the kids understand how to meet the height of the ball. Thanks Ken.

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  3. Mike, thanks for posting the clarification. I meant to do that today but things just got in the way. Glad we were able to come to consensus on that. It does help to do it in person rather than trying to describe it in words. We were always in agreement on what happens up to launch. Tying the hands to the back shoulder is key. After that is where the question came in. The thing about knob of the bat to the ball is what drill do people use to try to teach it? They soft toss a ball and have the hitter hit it with the knob of the bat. All that does, as we discussed, is encourage disconnection and a poor bat path. I’m still not a fan of hands to the ball, but I suppose it’s all in how you teach it. If you can show it properly it may work. But for me, since I want the girls to take the barrel of the bat to the ball, that’s what I would tell them to do.

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  4. Rick Cartwright

    Interesting set of terms. I have used hands/knob to the ball but have tried to qualify it with an example of how the hands should travel. Never thought it worked well. I am going to try the wayyou describe Ken. I have used hands to the pitcher with the slappers to keep them from wandering toward 1st until contact, which I believe has had some success.

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  5. Yeah, slappers are a whole different animal. Just getting them to run at the pitcher instead of trying to run to first before they hit the ball is a challenge. Funny when you think about it. We worry about regular hitters having their heads steady so they can see the ball. Then we ask slappers not only to hit from a moving stance but have their heads bobbing along as they run.

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  6. Mike,Good second post. Here’s a little clip on what hands to the ball/knob to the ball can become. http://imageevent.com/siggy/hitting/analysis?p=17&n=1&m=20&c=4&l=0&w=4&s=0&z=9

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  7. Any cue can be golden or lead with any given hitter any given day. My concern with the take the fat part of the bat to the ball is it could result in premature wrist uncocking/pushing the bathead out there rather than rely on whip with the bat head whipping out in the last 1/4 to 1/5 of the swing (defined in this case as from first move of the bat head into the swing plane till contact.

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