Youth baseball hitting tips: Should players get the bat off their shoulders?

We have heard it through the ages—“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?

keep elbows close to body when hitting a baseball

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.

proper elbow positioning for hitting a baseball

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.

keep hands in front when hitting baseball


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 MLB players start with their hands away from their bodies. So it must be good.”

Yes, that is true. But MLB Players make an adjustment: before they direct the bat towards the pitch, they 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. Most younger players don’t have the power and athleticism to be able to adjust like MLB players and Albert Pujouls can, so this why we teach all of our younger players to start with the bat on the shoulder, or slightly off.

albert pujouls professional baseball swing

Therefore, let us be clear.

You will ALWAYS be in a better position to hit for good contact 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.

baseball hitting swing

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.

Coach Joe Brockhoff