Fundamental Baseball Skills

The Ready Position

Okay, now that the lower part of your body is squared away and you understand how to stand and the necessity for good balance, let’s put the weapon in your hands and get into the hitting position.

Assume the basic stance position with your weight balanced and your knees slightly bent. Now, gripping the bat properly, raise your hands up so that the top hand on the bat is just above and in front of your rear shoulder. The knob of the bat should be pointed down, toward the plate. The rear shoulder should be raised just slightly higher than the front shoulder. Your head should be turned toward the pitcher and looking out over the front shoulder, putting both eyes to work for you. This position is the proper hitting position. From here you are balanced, athletic and prepared to adjust to the path of the ball as it come to the plate.

Earlier I mentioned the word “style.” No where is it more likely to be seen than in a batter’s box. Everyone has their own “style.” Just as we each have our own “style” of walking, talking, dressing or even standing. You name it, virtually everything we do in life, we do with our own “style.”

Cal Ripken, Jr., has probably gone through ten different “styles” at the plate during his wonderful career. As I mentioned earlier, Jay Buhner has his own unique approach at the plate. As does Mickey Tettleton, with his bat laid back nearly horizontal to the ground. Joe Morgan used to “flap” his rear arm like a bird just before the ball was thrown. Nomar Garciaparra, one of the great young hitters in the game today,shuffles and taps his feet back and forth as the pitcher goes into his windup. But, here’s the key; everyone of these players, and virtually every good hitter I have ever seen, returns to the proper hitting position at about the time the pitcher is releasing the baseball. I call this the pitcher’s “critical” position.

II have studied tons of film on hitters and I have found this to be a constant with every one of them. They might wave the bat around high in the air like John Kruk, or lay it on their shoulder like Cal, but when the pitcher reaches “critical,” the good hitter sheds his “style” and puts his body in the best possible athletic position to hit the baseball. That position is shown in the above figure..

My feeling on “style” is this; I don’t care if you do cartwheels in the batter’s box. I really don’t. But, if you want to be a good hitter, you better get in the proper hitting position at about the time the pitcher gets to “critical.” Otherwise, your chances for success are greatly diminished.

Learn what that proper position feels like. Embed it into your muscle memory. Make it second nature to adopt the proper hitting position automatically when you step into the batter’s box. Practice getting into it over and over and over. You don’t want to have to think about this, or your grip, or anything other than seeing the ball and hitting the ball when the time comes. So, ingrain these basics to the point of making them automatic. Once you have mastered the proper grip and the proper hitting position, you will be well on your way to becoming a better hitter. These two fundamentals are so important I cannot over emphasize them. They are the foundation that makes the rest of the swing so efficient.

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