How to Hit Home Runs
The ability to hit a baseball a long way is an impressive skill that everyone is trying to improve upon. The ways to improve hitting the “long ball” may not be as clear cut as you first may think.
I have seen way too many large strong guys who are impressive on a bench press but have extremely slow bat speed and can’t even sniff the outfield wall.
On the reverse, I have seen players that don’t even know where the weight room is but can hit bombs.
So where do you start? Here are few practical tips to increase your distance and hit more home runs.
Tips for how to hit home runs
To start with, a big key for how to hit home runs is bat speed. Bat speed is how you get good distance. 3 of the 4 points below are tips for how to increase bat speed.
Of all the tips this may be the most important but most likely to be skipped. When you are relaxed with your body and especially your hands, you allow your swing to work.
Tensing up makes you swing with your big muscles and slows your bat speed down significantly. Our swing gets started with our big muscles but we swing the bat with our hands and forearms.
The more relaxed your hands are the more likely they will whip through the zone. That is what you want. Similar to throwing a baseball, the last push with your wrist and fingers really increase velocity. If people were to throw by using their shoulder and neglect using the hand the ball won’t go very far.
Being relaxed helps you react quicker, and quicker (not harder) equals bat speed. Bat speed equals distance and when you swing properly and get good backspin the ball is guaranteed to go further.
2. Achieve quality separation
Separation is where your rhythm turns into the strongest position possible that achieves maximum torque ready to explode on the baseball.
Hands are back, shoulders are square, eyes are watching the baseball, front foot is on the ground. Your back knee is starting its move creating an intense amount of torque in your front side. Think of it as a rubber band about to explode. The energy that has been built up in your legs and core should whip your hands through the zone quickly.
This is often overlooked but feeling torque in your front side is important. Work on this by trying to hit a ball as far as you can off a tee. Feel the hands back as your bottom half starts your swing. The torque created from separation is extremely important if you want to hit the ball further. Click here for more tips on how to achieve good separation in your baseball swing.
3. Get in the weight room
Strength doesn’t necessarily turn into homeruns, but coupled with quality hitting mechanics it will help with your distance.
When you are stronger you will be able to hit through the baseball without the bat slowing down too much at contact. If you have ever watched the Little League World Series and watched slow motion replays of hitters hitting a homerun you will notice that the bat almost stops at contact because they are not strong enough to power through the velocity of the pitch.
As you get stronger your bat will be able to stay along its path and power through the ball. You will be able to use a heavier bat. Remember from math class, Distance = Mass x Velocity, being able to swing a heavier bat that you can control will get you more distance.
Don’t neglect key areas of your body. Make sure your whole body gets stronger and put a little extra focus on your core, legs, and hands or forearms. Can you squat or bench press more weight? If you are lifting properly for baseball you should be able to do much more weight squatting. You get your power from your legs. The swing starts from the ground up and your legs start the power that creates torque to hit the long ball.
The core controls your whole body. The stronger your core is the stronger you are. When your core (abs, obliques, low back) is strong you will be able to generate more power with your middle half.
Your forearms and hands is the part of your body that connects you to the bat. This needs to be strong. Every year I get my grip strength measured. I have always been amazed by seeing how guys with the stronger grip strength hit the most homeruns. I don’t think its a coincidence.
4. Create backspin
When a baseball is hit properly and has plenty of backspin you will notice how the baseball stays up in the air a little longer. It will stay straight and distance will increase.
A common problem with hitters is trying to pull every ball to hit a homerun. When a hitter gets in “pull mode” he comes around the baseball and hits the outside part of the ball. This creates side spin and the ball will hook. The shortest path between two points is a straight line. When you hook the ball it may actually travel 340 to get over the 330 foot sign. Side spin isn’t as bad as topspin but it definitely decreases distance potential.
There are two ways to create backspin.
1. The first way is to think about hitting the inside of the baseball. Now I am not saying hit everything the other way, not at all. I am trying to get the focus of hooking balls out of our head. When you stay inside the baseball you power through the ball and get a straighter flight.
When you try to hit the inside part of the ball on an inside pitch you actually hit the ball correctly (without getting into all the technicalities) and you get instant feedback. If the ball stays straight when hit to the pull side, everything was done correctly.
2. The second way to create backspin is to hit down on the baseball. Much like golf where to hit the ball in the air you need to hit the bottom part of the ball. Sometimes this can feel like you are chopping straight down. This action is similar in your baseball swing.
When you swing down you must let the ball travel further. By doing this you are at your strongest when your hands are not too far in front of your body. By swinging down and clipping the middle to bottom half of the baseball you will see greater backspin and will be able to see increased distance.
In the next couple weeks we will be releasing a book of hitting drills that can be done on a batting tee. These drills are designed to increase bat speed and body awareness, giving you better results at the plate. If you want to get the announcement when the book is available, you can subscribe to email updates, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.
I hope these tips for how to hit home runs were helpful for you. I invite you to leave comments or ask questions, and we hope you’ll share this page with your friends to help us spread the word about PBI – the free resource for serious baseball players. Play hard! – Doug
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