One of the greatest hitters in baseball history, Tony Gwynn definitely knew a thing or two about the best way to swing a baseball bat. The 20-year right fielder for the San Diego Padres won eight batting titles over the course of his career, and in a new video, he gives batters two simple steps that should give them everything they need to know to hit the ball well.
As we well know, hitting a baseball in the Major Leagues may be one of the single hardest things there is in sports. Players have less than a quarter of a second to actively react to some pitches, so their reflexes need to be on point. In discussing what makes a great hit, though, Gwynn focused not on reaction time, but on two pretty straightforward mechanics that helped him become one of the best hitters in the history of the sport.
In the video, he explained that the first key to good hitting is balance. What that means is that even when a batter is “loading up” or preparing to take a swing, he still keeps his weight in the center of his body. “If your weight gets over your front leg, you’re out,” Gwynn explained. “If your hip opens up, you’re out.” He added that batters should make sure not to let their body get ahead of them and to keep it centered around home plate.
Gwynn’s second tip is the one he said may be slightly more surprising. In the video, he explained that batters should swing the knob of the bat and not the barrel. Most high-level batters likely know that they need to grip the bat at the bottom. The exact grip may differ, but what Gwynn was talking about is focusing your attention on the swing of the knob, not the swing of the barrel that will eventually (hopefully) make contact with the ball.
Gwynn explained that most batters think that, to be a good hitter, they have to control the barrel head and make sure it’s hitting the ball with as much force as possible. “What happens when you do that is the bat starts out in the zone, and then you cut it off,” he explained. In contrast, if you swing the knob of the bat, the barrel will follow. Swinging with the knob in mind ultimately gives you more control, even if it doesn’t seem like it at the moment.
“Those two things you have to do every time to step up to the plate because if you don’t, you’re going to make out,” Gwynn added. “Okay, and that’s it. It’s that simple.”
Anyone who has ever had to swing a bat in MLB knows that stepping up to the plate is anything but simple. Even so, it’s remarkable the way legendary hitters like Babe Ruth and Gwynn are able to condense incredibly difficult skills into a few concise, important points.
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