Coaching Baseball: Correct Way To Hold A Baseball Bat

Did you ever hear a parent-coach say…

“elbow up!”? Do I agree with that coaching advice…sort of. How about “line up your knuckles” when gripping the bat. But wait, which set of knuckles? Many youth baseball players take instruction in a very literal way. We need to show, explain and let the player feel what it is like to be in the proper position.

So what’s my point? As a youth baseball coach, lets not just shout out advice just for the sake of coaching them up.

Let’s think about explaining to our players the ‘why’ and ‘how’ when giving instruction.

As a youth baseball coach, we have an incredible opportunity (and responsibility) to teach this game. So what is the correct way to hold a baseball bat?

When griping a baseball bat, think about these 3 cues…

The ‘why’ and ‘how’ will be explained and illustrated too!

  1. Line up your knuckles. Many little league baseball players have heard of the term, ‘line up your knuckles’ but they may line up the wrong set of knuckles. See the picture below
    Improper Grip

    Improper Grip

    Really, what you need to do is line up your door knocking knuckles which are the middle set of knuckles (or at least close to doing so). See the picture below.

    Door Knockers Lined Up

    Door Knockers Lined Up

  2. Hands should touch (contact between pinkie of top hand and pointer finger of bottom hand). Many youth baseball players have a slight gap between their hands and it decreases that pivot or whipping action that you want with your hands.
    Pinky and Pointer Finger Touching

    Pinky and Pointer Finger Touching

  3. Wrists should be hinged. Sometimes it’s hard to see which knuckles are lined up when the player is in the stance of load position. But, it is easy to see if the wrists are bent or straight. You can see in the picture below that the wrists are straight and not flexed.
    No Flexion in Wrists

    No Flexion in Wrists


    When you don’t flex your wrists it is very hard to create that whipping action that is needed for good bat speed. Also it’s very hard to keep the bat in the hitting zone longer which is what we want give us a better chance to square up on the ball.

Now back to the ‘Elbow Up’ comment. You can see in the pictures that you can very easily have your elbow up with both the proper and improper grip. But with the proper grip, the elbow is more Up and Back. Also, be mindful of the player that may start with the proper grip then ‘re-grip’ to the improper grip just after the load phase. This is something I see often when working with youth hitters

Abert-P-palmup-PalmdownThe end result of a proper grip is to un-hinge your wrists through contact. Your hands should be in a Palm-up / Palm-Down position at contact. Look at the image of Albert Puljos at contact. The only real way to see if your hitter is in that palm-up/palm-down position is to take video and slow it down. Consider downloading this free app for your mobile device…Coach My Video.

Have you ever heard other verbal cues relating to a batter’s grip? Do you use (or know of) training aids to help the youth hitter form a proper grip? We’d love to hear your comment below.

Stay on plane…
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About CoachK

Owner and head instructor at Colonial Baseball Instruction. CBI serves Southern VA with baseball camps and private lessons. CBI also developed My Coach: Baseball App and sells a variety of baseball training aids.

Launch Laser says:

We have an indoor Visual Swing Trainer, called the Launch Laser. It’s a hitting aid that attaches to the knob of the bat and provides a laser as a visual reference point on the ground. The device helps instruct the fundamentals of proper swing mechanics such as loading the hands into a good launch position and tracking the swing path. The training aid is allowing coaches to better instruct youth hitters that need a visual cue when they hear elbow up or knob to the catcher. Learn more at http://www.LaunchLaser.com.

This is a great article! I believe that more coaches need to take the time to help each individual player on the team..not just the stars. If we as youth coaches help everyone get better with a hands on approach and not just barking orders then we are further ahead as a team. Thank you for the information

Coach Kuebler says:

Thanks for your comment Mike. I know people will think it’s hard to get individual coaching time with each player on your team (it really is…) But if we can explain the why and how of a certain technique/drill, the player will hopefully take ownership of their learning. Point is, teach the player about the game so they can be self-directed learners.