Gripping the softball bat right is a vital part of hitting well. If you grip the bat right, you will be able to swing it confidently and hit the ball with optimal force.
On the other hand, if your grip isn’t right, your swing will be unstable and you won’t be able to channel most of your momentum into the hit.
A good grip is also important in that it puts less strain on your hands and wrists. As a result, it minimizes the potential for injury.
The right way to grip a softball bat involves a lot of things. These include the tightness of the grip, the position of the grip and the alignment of the hands on the handle.
#1. Keep it relaxed
A tight grip generally means that the muscles in your hands and arms are tensed. Tense muscles are typically slow to respond.
This means that if you are holding the bat too tightly, you will lose some of the swing speed. In contrast, if you are holding the bat with a relaxed grip, it gives you the opportunity to quickly adapt to the speed of the ball.
A good balance is to hold a bat only so tightly that it may not fly away from you during a hit.
The grip is meant to make sure that the bat stays in your hands during the high-speed swing momentum.
At the same time, the grip should be relaxed enough to let you swing comfortably. A relaxed grip improves your chances of hitting a softball with a good speed and power.
Some players tend to relax their fingers on the bat handle just before hitting to remind themselves that they need a relaxed grip. You can practice this as well as to make sure you are not holding the bat too tight.
#2. Find the right grip position
One thing you must avoid when gripping a softball bat is to hold it in the palm of your hands. When you grip the bat with the palm of your hands, it significantly restricts the movement of your hands and wrists. As a result, you will experience a clumsy and slow swing.
The right position of the grip is along the fingers of the hand. To achieve this grip, simply lay a bat across your hands.
Let the bat be positioned along the base of the fingers on both hands. Then wrap your hands around the bat and this should give you the right grip position.
#3. Align the knuckles
Even when you have achieved the right grip position, you may still be holding the bat wrong. To make sure this is not the case, you can always check the alignment of your knuckles.
When players hold the softball bat right, the row of knuckles on each hand is aligned with each other. The big question, which row does this refer to?
Typically, you can align the middle knuckles or the big knuckles. Both types of alignment serve well in softball hitting.
However, you have to test both alignments against various pitchers to find which one suits you better. For instance, some players use one knuckle alignment against slower pitchers and another alignment against fast pitchers. You can experiment in practice sessions to find out which works best for you.
The box grip is another type of knuckle alignment. In this type, the second and third knuckles on both hands align with each other.
At the end of the day, the knuckle alignment is meant to be so that you are able to hold the firmly, but not too tightly, and swing it easily and powerfully. Experiment with different types of knuckle alignments to find one that meets these requirements.
#4. To choke or not to choke
Choking is when you grip a softball bat closer to the barrel. The closer you are to the barrel, the greater is the degree of choking. Choking is sometimes used by players for different reasons. Some players use a choked grip to gain greater swing speeds.
However, an important thing to consider here is that choking has its drawbacks. When you are using a choked up grip, it essentially reduces the amount of power you can channel into the barrel.
So while you may gain in terms of speed, you will lose in terms of the swing power.
Still, a choked up grip may serve you in good stead if you are facing an exceptionally fast pitcher. In such a case, you may prefer being able to hit the ball, even with less power, as compared to not being able to hit it at all.
#5. Practice the grip
You will not grip the bat right your first time around. You may not be able to master it even after a number of practice sessions. The key is to practice the grip so often and so much that it comes naturally and instinctively to you.
The best to do this is to hold the bat in what you think is the right grip as often as possible. You may do so off the field as well, at home, in your backyard, or simply while taking a walk outside.
At one hand, this will make you comfortable with the grip and you will no longer tense the hands when holding the bat. At the other hand, it will let you determine what type of grip best works for you, and allow you to evolve your own way of holding the bat.
#6. Study other players
This is an important as practicing the grip. Keep an eye on how other players, especially the good ones, hold their bats. Check out their alignment and position of the hands.
Also see how they keep their hands relaxed just before hits, which gives them additional swing power.
Whenever you are watching your favorite team play, make it a habit to check their hitting style and grip. This will give you real-world invaluable lessons on how best to grip the softball bat.