“In Hitting, Trust the Hands: Good or Bad?”
Hi. I’m Coach Joe Brockoff, a Division I Head Baseball Coach for Tulane University for more than 19 years, and former minor league player for the New York Yankees. My proven baseball hitting system has helped many hitters become a threat at the plate.
As a coach committed to continuous improvement, I share my baseball drills, tips, and techniques here so that you will, in turn, inspire and motivate a young player to improve his/her game. Read excerpts from my book, Super 8 Hitting System, watch some of my free instructional videos, or order my video package, The Super 8 Hitting System,!
So let’s get started.
We’ve often heard baseball coaches tell their players, “Trust the hands!” Is that a good
coaching concept? No, I say. It’s the opposite. In fact, here’s one of the most important lessons I teach players during drills:
“HIPS TAKE US TO THE BALL.
HANDS TAKE US THROUGH THE BALL.”
Our hands are auto reactors, providing some of our body’s quickest muscle reaction. If
we hold our hands up and pop our wrists, we can do that repeatedly very quickly. If
someone were to throw a punch at us, our hands would quickly and automatically pop up in
As an infielder, we don’t have to think about a ball thrown to us. Our hands react to the direction of the ball and make the catch without having to think about it. Think of the catcher after he gives the sign. He is taught to frame the pitch. His hands automatically go to the pitch without any thought or direction.
Yes, the hands are auto reactors. Is this good for the hitter? “No!” When the hands move too early, this is when we hear the coach yell out, “Wait on the pitch!” Good coaches know that a hitter who allows his hands to react automatically as his first movement towards the pitch will never have full body support.
Now, let’s apply this to our baseball hitting mechanics.
Here are the steps:
1. Coil (Load): The hitter collects his weight on the backside.
2. Stride: a linear step towards the pitched ball (30-40% of weight transfer).
3. Body Rotation: Hips rotate toward the ball.
4. Hands will then, and only then, execute the stroke.
Repeat, “hips take us to the ball, hands take us through the ball.” Don’t trust the hands . . . yet. Discipline the hands to wait until we get into launch position—hands inside the ball and hips rotated—then turn to the pitch and initiate the stroke.
They travel in rotation with the pivot, but they do not commit to the pitch until the rotation is complete. This rotated position with the hands still back is what we call the “drive” position. It is at this time that the hands will launch.
“Now” we can trust the hands. Try it, and watch the ball explode onto the bat.
Coach’s Corner Extra Tip: Remember that when we hit, the hands are in a double lever system. That is, they don’t personally go to the ball. They are holding the bat, which goes to the ball. The hands always end up in front of the body. They are responsible for directing the bat to the proper cut line on the pitch.
Learn more about the Trusting the Hands baseball hitting drill and other proven methods for increasing batting speed by visiting my Super 8 Hitting System—a bestselling baseball training web site and instructional video package, which includes many free youth baseball drills and tips.
We have heard it through the ages for baseball coaching youth —“Get the bat off your shoulder!”
It is a common phrase used by fans, coaches, parents, and players.
The question is “Why is that so bad?”
Here is what happens when a player moves his bat away from his body in his hitting stance. As he does this, he consequently separates his hands from his body. And he ends up more often than not with his hands out over the plate on contact. This technique will produce only an arm swing, with no body support.
So why is that a problem? Let’s look at it this way. If you had to arm wrestle an opponent, would you want your hands away from your body? Or would you want your hands close to the body for support?
If you had to throw the best punch you could, would you hold your hands away from the body? No, you would not. Your hands would be in a fist right at the back shoulder.
If you had to push an automobile, would you want your hands at your side, or would you want them in front of you? Your body gives thrust to your hands. So naturally, you would want your hands in front of you.
Now, stand up like you’re at home plate with your bat out over the plate like it is in contact with the ball. What’s behind your hands? Nothing! When this happens, your body gives your hands no support.
You might say…”I’ve seen major leaguers start with their hands away from their bodies. So it must be good.”
And the answer to that is –“Major leaguers make an adjustment. Before they direct the bat towards the pitch, they will pull their hands back to their bodies in the shoulder area. We usually don’t see this, because it happens so quickly. But research shows that is exactly what they do.
Therefore, let us be clear. You will ALWAYS be in a better position to hit better in baseball and distance if you keep your hands up and close to the back shoulder in your stance. Now allow your hips to rotate, KEEPING YOUR HANDS AT THE SHOULDER until they move to contact the ball. Now your hands are in FRONT as they enter the contact zone, NOT OVER THE PLATE.
So if you want to learn how to hit better in baseball, remember this rule: The only time separation of the hands from the body occurs is when they move forward to hit the ball.
These techniques are fully explained in the “Super 8 Hitting System”, completely demonstrated in a series of baseball hitting videos, which includes many youth baseball tips.
Baseball Coach Youth TIPS:
Get the bat off the shoulder in the hitting stance? No.
Contact the ball over the plate? No.