Developing Great Hitters – 2 Solutions to Improve Hand Motor Skills

hitter hitting split grip on bat Louisiana Lafayette softball player
hitting stance two hands softball baseball fastpitch

Using both hands isn’t hard, but using them at the same time to perform the same function is not only difficult, it’s extremely rare.

Discover how most of your hitting problems come down to your player’s inability to use both hands at the same time.

Think about it for a minute – what other thing to you do in your life that involves using both hands at the same time performing the same movement? You might come up with shoveling, or sweeping, swinging an axe or posthole digging. And of those examples, only the axe and posthole digging involve using both hands together while touching.

Now, be your players for a minute. Go into their world and ask yourself, what things do they do that involve using both hands together at the same time? Chances are that many of them don’t sweep floors (unfortunately), and I’m betting that shoveling and swinging an axe are out, and they’ve never even heard of posthole digging. So that leaves nothing in their life that they do on any kind of a basis, regular or otherwise, that helps them better relate to and understand how they’re supposed to use their hands when they hit.

compare hitting baseball softball fastpitch hands independent hands together

The more I work with hitters the more I realize that what makes hitting so difficult, without a doubt, is the fact that we have to do it using both hands together at the same time. We just don’t know how to effectively do that. Sure, we use both hands all day long, but never with them together. We drink our coffee with one hand and drive with the other, or hold the phone in one hand and write with the other, even comb our hair and brush our teeth. We’re very capable of doing some extremely coordinated things that involve using both hands at the same time. But in almost every single case, each hand is doing an entirely separate act. Each hand is independent from the other. Since we are constantly using our hands independently from one another it makes using them together, at the same time extremely rare, and as a result, extremely difficult.

Using both hands together at the same time creates all kinds of problems. Which hand takes over and when? What is each hand supposed to do? Once both hands grab the bat it’s as if neither hand knows what to do, so very often the hands don’t do much and the player’s chest or shoulders take over. That’s why it’s very common to see players pull the bat through the hitting zone with their shoulders instead of driving the bat through with their hands. Add to this the fact that most young girls lack any kind of reliable mental picture to imitate with their swing – unlike their young male counterparts – and it’s no wonder that young softball players struggle with hitting.

While learning to operate both hands at the same time, fortunately there are 2 things we can do to help our hitters better use both hands while hitting:

hitter hitting split grip  on bat Louisiana Lafayette softball player

1. Split the Difference – One thing you can do with any hitters that are struggling with this whole concept of using both hands together is to split their grip on the bat. It’s something that Michael Lotief, former head coach at the University of Louisiana Lafayette, had his hitters do in order to speed up and strengthen their swing, and he’s had tremendous success doing it. By having the hitter’s split their hands even ½ an inch apart on the bat it helps the hands act separately from each other, something the hands are much more used to doing. Players aren’t used to holding the bat this way so it will feel “weird” at first. But have your players try it for a practice and see if they can overcome the weirdness of it and start using their hands better and increase their bat speed.

2. Practice Apart – While it’s true that we use our hands together to hit, each hand has a different role to play in the swing. The front arm/bottom hand (the hand at the bottom of the grip and the arm closest to the pitcher) has the responsibility of getting the hands from behind the hitter in their stance to in front of the hitter for contact. While the back arm/top hand (the hand at the top on the grip and the arm farthest from the pitcher) has the responsibility of driving the barrel into and through the ball at contact. While these might be very general descriptions, they are the essence of what each hand does during the swing. So in order to perfect these very different roles, it’s best to practice each hand separately by doing 1 hand drills. These drills can involve a regular bat that the player simply chokes up on, or a smaller bat that’s easier to hold with one hand. It’s also common for these 1 hand drills to not involve a bat at all but some type of teaching device like a frisbee, a fido stick, a pad, or a tennis ball.

If you’re looking for more information on hitting, and hitting drills you can do with your team, we have some great resources for you:

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