Learning to Throw-the-Bat-Head (NOT “swing” the bat) is the foundation of a professional baseball-training program. It is also the 1st thing that you should do to develop your swing.
You should learn to feel that throwing action from the top hand. You should feel the top hand throw or whip the bat head through the zone. As the ball is being delivered towards home plate, you should think about throwing the barrel “behind” the baseball. The pitcher is throwing the ball at you and you’ve got to throw the barrel back at the ball.
There are three movements that you must perfect when working on your top hand movements.
1. The first is throwing the barrel along the golf plane; truly feeling your hands whip the zone.
2. The second is throwing the barrel along the baseball plane and feeling the same whip in your hands through the zone.
3. The third is actually throwing the bat down the opposite field line.
Perform these three movements with both a regular grip as well as a split grip. A split grip means your hands are slightly separated an inch or so. These are simple movements and should be easy to learn, but doing them right is very important in developing your feel for throwing the barrel.
A brief review each of these movements:
1. Golf Plane:
The first movement you should use to develop this thrower’s feel is to take the bat along the golf plane. Using the golf plane keeps the bat light and this allows you to stay loose and relaxed. At the bottom of your swing, you simply throw your top hand past your bottom.
-When performing this drill, you just want to take that lead arm up and then just allow it to fall straight down. Before your lead arm gets to your front foot, you should feel your hands start to work and feel the bat whip through the zone.
– Notice how the lead arm stops before it gets to the foot and then all that’s working through there are the hands and the bat.
-It’s very important that you feel this whipping sensation and as that lead arm is going to stop before the foot, the lead hand works under, the top hand works over, as the bat head whips through and then the lead arm begins to move.
-When doing this drill and, in general as a hitter, you want to have a good, firm grip on the bat, but you always want to have nice, loose, relaxed wrists – – good grip, loose wrists.
It’s often a good idea to separate the hands an inch or two so that you can really feel what each hand is doing independently. If you do this, you really become aware how the top hand is throwing the barrel past the bottom hand.
Add stride to movement:
Once the hands are feeling good and you can really feel the throw in the hands, you can add some footwork, i.e. add a stride or a step into your throw.
– Throwing the barrel along the golf plane is a great movement to use in the on-deck circle or between pitches. It helps keep the batter stay relaxed and ensures that the hands are working properly.
2. Baseball plane:
The next movement you should master to feel the throw of the barrel is to simply take the same movement from the golf plane up to the baseball plane.
-Again, it is important that you get a good grip on the bat and keep very loose wrists.
– You should also feel the lead arm get to a point behind the front foot, and then it stops moving forward and allows the top hand to throw past the bottom to create that whip effect.
Note: When performing these dry swings, hitters should incorporate the top-hand release. It gives the batter the sensation of getting rid of the barrel, throwing the barrel at the ball and not “hanging onto it” afterwards. Hanging onto the bat throughout the entire swing can sometimes give the batter a very spinning, turning feel to his movement, which you don’t want.
A Major point of emphasis: don’t release until the top hand finishes. By finish, we mean contact with the ball AND the movement of the top-hand over-and-past the bottom-hand. We will also see the back-arm finish extension just after contact as the top hand gets over and past the bottom. We will not want to release the top-hand until we have completed these movements of the back arm/hand.
Split grip: again, just like on the golf plane, it’s a good idea to separate the hands an inch, maybe even two. The split grip allows you to feel what each hand is doing. Isolating the top-hand accentuates the throwing “feel”.
3. One arm throws:
Removing the bottom-hand and throwing the barrel along the baseball plane with just one arm can really help a player develop a feel of throwing the bat at the ball.
– Just attach the lead hand at the back-shoulder and feel the barrel in your top hand. Then simply step and make a side-arm throw of the barrel along the baseball plane. Start with dry swings.
-You will want to feel your hand whip through the zone. That whipping is felt as the top hand goes over the top just after what would have been contact with the ball.
-When performing a one-arm barrel throw, you want to try to stay square on the front side. Attaching the lead hand to the back shoulder would help with that.
-We really want to feel more tilt than turn on that front shoulder.
Note: In the early stages, however, it’s much more important that we concern ourselves with feeling the throw as opposed to developing perfect form. It’s a great movement for feeling side-arm throwing action of the high-level hitting pattern.
After we’ve developed a feel of the top hand throwing the barrel of the ball and the hand whipping the barrel through the zone, we can move on to the final movement for developing a feel and belief that we are “Throwing the Barrel”.
4. Throw the bat itself.
You want to make sure that you set up in a safe area in an open field or perhaps a position in front of the net. Be sure that anyone with you is not in front or to the side of you, but rather well behind you.
-The first time we throw bats, we’re not concerned with our mechanics. The purpose of this movement is to feel and see that the actions that you use to swing a bat are highly similar to the actions that you would use to throw it.
-Focus on the step and throw aspect of the movement.
-So that we don’t feel too much spin in these throws, we want to throw our bats down the opposite field line and as we release the bat, our hands and our body should be in the direction of the throw, again, down the opposite field line.
– Focus on feeling the one fluid movement aspect of the throw. It’s one fluid movement. In other words, we don’t start and stop when we throw. We don’t want to do that when we swing either. It’s one fluid movement.
Note: The step you take and the movements that the rest of your body makes, including your arms, all act to give speed to the bat head. The highest-level swing patterns most closely align with the high-level throwing patterns.
Again, don’t worry about perfect form on these throws. This is not an every session drill, but rather a movement to help you understand that the swing is essentially a throw. You can go back to it from time to time, especially if you feel yourself getting away from the smooth throwing pattern.