How To Hold a Baseball Bat | A Beginner’s In-Depth Guide
January 27, 2024
24 min read
Successful hitting is considered the hardest thing to do in all sports for a reason.
Squaring up a round ball hurled with bad intentions and intentional movement, not just on a round bat, but on a 2-inch wide area of that round bat, feels like a miracle of psychics and grit.
So complexity comes with the territory.
But amidst all the biomechanical swing breakdowns, advanced verbal cues, innovative drills, and software-measured performance metrics, one of the most overlooked aspects of hitting is how a player should grip their bat.
And how you hold the bat can significantly influence your swing mechanics and outcomes at the plate.
In this guide, you’ll learn the proper way to hold a baseball bat – what to do, what not to do, and how best to find a grip that suits you.
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The way you pick up and hold a baseball bat is akin to how you put on your shoes in the morning.
It’s a rather mundane step at the start of your busy day. And you have all sorts of more complicated and exciting things to do.
But putting the left foot’s shoe on your right foot or not fixing a crumpled backheel with a shoe-horn before you leave the house will have a negative impact on the rest of your day that’ll be hard to miss.
Ridiculous analogies aside, a good grip can impact your power, speed, pitch reactivity, and comfort.
“Choking up” on the bat means moving your gripping hands away from the knob and toward the barrel of the bat.
Coaches often still instruct players to choke up on the bat, especially when they are behind in the count, because it’s supposed to produce a quicker and more controlled swing, helping players more easily make contact with the ball.
We wrote a whole guide on what the best two-strike approaches are for hitters that you can check out.
But when striving to get your baseball bat grip just right, you’ll probably wonder if you should choke up or not.
In the previously mentioned 2009 study on baseball bat grips, a team of eight researchers from various institutions carried out an experiment to determine if “choking up” on the bat really does “quicken” your swing.
📊 Study Conclusion: Studying a group of 14 college and adult baseball players, the research group concluded that choking up on the bat does lead to a technically “quicker” swing but not necessarily a faster-moving bat. This means that choking up doesn’t increase bat speed at all, which would have been ideal.
They noticed that batters who had choked up also had a more open stance during their swing.
As a result, they speculated that this “may help the hitter see the ball better” and “help the hitter better control” their movements.
This more open stance could have resulted from unconsciously over-compensating for the extra handle area poking out below the hands that needs to clear the hitter’s body when swinging.
Despite these potential benefits to choking up, the researchers also found that “When choking up, the batter adjusted his swing mechanics to be quicker but sacrificed potential gains in bat velocity” and “diminished force production.”
So, choking up causes you to move your body more quickly but doesn’t actually speed up the bat. It also takes away some of your power.
As studies like the one cited above began to analyze choking up more closely, it became less prevalent in the modern game. For obvious reasons.