Swinging a baseball bat seems relatively easy at first, but once you start breaking down the mechanics of a baseball swing it gets complicated very quickly. Not all players use the same grip so there are multiple ways a player can be taught to hold a baseball bat. I have over 30 years of experience playing baseball and I still experiment with different grips, but I wanted to put together this guide to help beginners understand one fundamental question – how do you hold a baseball bat?
Hold a baseball bat by placing both hands on the bat handle with your dominant hand on top. Most players hold the bat with their bottom hand touching the knob and their “knocking knuckles” lined up on both hands.
There are multiple variations to how someone can hold a baseball bat so keep reading to learn everything you ever wanted to know about correctly holding a baseball bat.
- How to Hold a Baseball Bat Right-Handed
- How to Hold a Baseball Bat Left-Handed
- 5 Common Ways To Grip Your Baseball Bat
- Should the Grip on a Bat Be Tight or Loose?
- Where Should Your Dominant Hand Go on a Bat?
- Should Both Hands Be Together When Holding a Bat?
How to Hold a Baseball Bat Right-Handed
A vast majority of baseball players bat right-handed so most players want to know how a right-handed person should hold a bat.
Right-handed people should hold a bat by gripping the skinny part of the bat (the bat handle) with their left hand on bottom and their right hand on top. The left hand should be touching the knob of the handle and the right hand should be making contact with the top of the left hand.
When gripping the bat, you’ll want to make sure your “knocking knuckles” are in a straight line. These are called “knocking knuckles” because these are the knuckles most people use when knocking on doors.
You can adjust your grip over time with whatever feels comfortable for you, but lining up these knuckles is how most coaches teach beginners to grip a baseball bat.
How to Hold a Baseball Bat Left-Handed
Holding a baseball bat left-handed is similar to holding a baseball bat right-handed, but the hand placement is reversed.
To hold a baseball bat left-handed, players should grip the skinny part of the bat (the bat handle) with their right hand on bottom and their left hand on top. The right hand should be touching the knob of the handle while the left hand is making contact with the top of the right hand.
The standard grip for a left-handed hitter is the same for a right-handed hitter. Make sure your “knocking knuckles” are lined up in a straight line when gripping the bat. These are the knuckles most people use when knocking on doors.
Eventually, you can change up your grip with whatever feels comfortable, but this is the starting grip a lot of coaches use to teach beginners.
5 Common Ways To Grip Your Baseball Bat
Getting your hands in place is just the first step toward correctly holding a baseball bat. The next step is to understand how to grip a baseball bat.
The good news about gripping a baseball bat is there is no correct way to do it, but there are some common ways players grip their baseball bat. Keep reading to learn about the common ways to grip your bat.
1) The Traditional Grip
The very first method of gripping a bat that all players learn is what I call the “traditional” way to grip a bat (I’m not sure if there’s another name for this).
To grip a bat the traditional way, line up your “knocking knuckles” on both hands. These are the knuckles most people use when knocking on doors.
Once your knuckles are lined up, you should be able to lift your pointer finger on both hands and both fingers should be pointing directly to the sky. If they are not pointing directly toward the sky then you are probably over-gripping the handle.
This traditional grip works great for beginners because it allows them to complete a full swing without rolling over their hands. This grip also tends to be the most comfortable one for players and it’s the type of grip I still use after playing baseball for over 30 years.
2) Overgripping the Bat Handle
If the traditional way of gripping a bat doesn’t feel right, then try over-gripping the bat handle a little bit.
To use an overgrip, first line up your “knocking knuckles” so you have a traditional grip. Then, twist both of your hands toward each other a little bit.
When done correctly, your “knocking knuckles” will be somewhere between the knocking knuckles on your other hand and the larger, back knuckles on your other hand.
Generally, I see stronger players and less-flexible players use an overgrip when gripping their bat. But it always comes down to personal preference so if this grip works for you then keep using it!
3) Bottom Hand Makes Contact with Bat Knob
Most baseball players grip the bat with their bottom hand making contact with the knob.
When players hold a bat as far down the bat handle as possible, they tend to hit the ball harder. This is because you have more of a whipping motion with the bat, which causes the ball to travel further.
The one downside to holding the bat here is that players also tend to lose some control of where the barrel of the bat goes. And as most baseball players know, you need to hit the ball on the sweet spot of the barrel in order to crush a pitch.
Even though there is a downside to placing your hands as far down the handle as possible, this is where almost every baseball player holds the bat. With enough practice, you tend to get better control of where the barrel of the bat is going.
4) Choking Up on the Bat
When a hitter has two strikes, you will commonly see them choke up on the bat. This grip is great for helping players have more control over their bat, which helps them put the ball in play.
To choke up on the bat, move your hands up the handle of the bat by a few inches. When done correctly, you’ll see 1 to 2 inches of the bat handle below your hands.
How far up the bat you want to grip depends on personal preference.
If you like the feel of a lighter bat, then move your hands up about 2 inches on the handle of the bat. If you prefer a little more bat control, but you’re still concerned about power, then move your hands up about an inch.
The great thing about choking up on the bat is that it increases bat speed and gives you more control over the bat. The bad news is that you lose power the more you choke up on the bat.
Personally, I choke up on the bat by about half an inch for every pitch. I honestly have no idea why because I know that moving my hands down more would lead to more power, but I’ve always felt most comfortable with my hands in this position.
Experiment with how much you prefer to choke up on the bat and see what works for you. Most of the time, hitters will only use this grip in two-strike situations or in situations where they absolutely must put the ball in play.
5) Pinky Overlaps the Knob of the Bat
Some players really focus on power and one way to swing for the most power is by moving their hands down further on the bat handle so their bottom hand is overlapping the knob.
I’ve experimented with this grip and it did increase the power of my hits. However, I tried using this grip in an actual game and I tweaked my wrist when I swung and missed a pitch.
Even though I had practiced with this grip multiple times, I must have not practiced it enough because this grip is what lead to me tweaking my wrist. I didn’t tweak my wrist enough for me to leave the game, but it was a lingering issue for a week or two.
In my opinion, this grip should be used by experienced hitters who have practiced this type of grip for a lot more than a few practices. Otherwise, it could lead to an injury.
Should the Grip on a Bat Be Tight or Loose?
It’s easy to overlook how loose a player’s grip should be, but it’s an important thing to keep in mind.
Players should have a loose grip while they are waiting for the pitch to be delivered, but their grip should tighten while they are beginning their swing.
There’s no point in tightly gripping your bat while you are waiting for the pitch. You will just wear out your forearms before the pitch is even in the strike zone.
Instead, tighten your grip as the pitcher delivers the pitch. You want your grip tight enough that the bat will not fly out of your hands when you swing, but you also want to make sure you are not squeezing the handle so tightly that you can’t follow through with your swing.
Where Should Your Dominant Hand Go on a Bat?
The first question most beginners have is where you hold your dominant hand on a baseball bat.
A player’s dominant hand goes above that player’s non-dominant hand on a baseball bat. Right-handed hitters will place their right hand above their left hand. Left-handed hitters will place their left hand above their right hand.
Of course, there are those weird players like me who are right-handed and bat left-handed. I also play on a team where a guy is left-handed, but bats right-handed. In these rare scenarios, a player’s non-dominant hand would be on top.
Should Both Hands Be Together When Holding a Bat?
Traditionally, both hands should be together and touching when holding a baseball bat. However, some experienced players have found success with their hands separated by a few centimeters to an inch.
Whether your hands are separate or together is a personal preference, but almost every baseball player has their hands touching while holding a baseball bat. Just keep in mind the further apart your hands are the more difficult it is to hit for power.