If you have played under a good hitting instructor at any time in your baseball career, you have heard those words before. Releasing your hands to the ball is vital to good hitting.
The top hand on the bat is the “power hand” in the baseball swing. It starts out on top, trails the knob of the bat and lower hand as the hands “go to the ball,” and eventually becomes the “lower” hand on the bat just before and during impact. The wrists then “roll over” just after impact and the top hand then leads the hands into the follow through, up and over the front shoulder.
A good way to get the feel for this hand action, is to pick up a small, light bat and hold it in your top hand only. Hold it properly in the fingers of the hands and in the proper hitting position. Simply place your other hand across your chest to get it out of the way. Imagine a baseball sitting on a tee about waist high and slightly in front of your front leg. Take your bat directly down to that imaginary ball without rolling over your wrist.You should be able to see your fingers and the barrel of the bat should still be pointing somewhat to your rear at an angle. This is a result of taking “the knob of the bat” to the ball. (This is almost the point of impact). Keeping your fingers visible, flip your wrist slightly to bring the barrel of the bat down to the point of impact on the imaginary ball.
To complete the top hand motion, roll the wrist over so that you are looking at the back of your hand. Finish the follow through, taking the bat up and over the shoulder. It is a good idea to incorporate the lower body action of “squashing the bug” when doing this drill to maximize muscle memory of a good swing. Do not do this drill fast. Slow, smooth and rhythmic movements are best.
Imagine striking a baseball at the optimum point of impact. Feel the point where your hand rolls over. Learn to time the “action” of the wrist and to make a smooth rolling motion. Repeat this drill at least twenty times.
THE BOTTOM HAND
As the top hand is referred to as the “power hand”, the bottom hand is your “action hand.” It leads the way and provides the action in your swing. In fact, the great George Brett (and other hitters taught by hitting guru Charley Lau) would actually release the top hand at or near the point of impact and finish the swing with only the bottom hand, so strong was their belief that the bottom hand is the important hand in the baseball swing. I do not advocate this and believe that the top hand provides the power. However, it takes both hands, working in unison to create a much more effective swing.
Okay, let’s analyze the role of the bottom hand. Place the bat (I like to use the small collectible bats given away by many Major League teams during promotions) in your bottom hand only. Place your off-hand across your chest to get it out of the way. Imagine the ball on the same tee. Take the knob of the bat directly to the ball. You should be looking straight down at the knuckle on your thumb. Now make the same “action” motion with your wrist to take the barrel of the bat to the impact area. You should see the back of your hand and the knuckles should be pointing away from you. To complete the motion, simply roll the wrist and forearm and continue the follow through up and over the shoulder.
Do this drill with slow, smooth and rhythmic motions. Concentrating on the point of impact and the smooth transition in and through that vital area of the baseball swing.