Every aspect of hitting has an endless number of teachings and schools of thought. Unfortunately, many of these are rooted solely in theory and old school beliefs. Today I will shed some light on one of the points of contention: the way that we grip the bat.
For this experiment, I took a look at 3 different grips: Deep in the palms, knocking knuckles lined up and bat in the finger tips with bottom hand top knuckles lined up with top hand knocking knuckles. I took 50 swings off of the tee with each grip, using the same bat. Here is what I found.
Grip # 1: Bat Deep in Palms
This grip is probably the most common grip employed by younger players. They tend to feel stronger with the bat buried deep in their hands.
Avg. Ball Exit Speed: 79.4 Max Ball Exit Speed: 82.7
Grip # 2: Knocking Knuckles lined up
This grip is also another common one that I have seen. Many instructors and coaches tell players to line up these middle knuckles and make sure that when straightened, their index fingers don't cross.
Avg. Ball Exit Speed: 75.5 Max Ball Exit Speed: 78.6
Grip # 3 Bottom hand top Knuckles lined up with Top hand middle knuckles (Bat in fingertips)
Avg. Ball Exit Speed: 81.2 Max Ball Exit Speed: 83.9
The top grip for ball exit speed was the grip with the bottom hand top knuckles lined up with the top hand knocking knuckles with the bat held in the finger tips. The second was the bat buried in the palms and the worst was lining up knocking knuckles.
To start, allowing the bat to rest in the finger tips allows for a stronger grip and helps to relax the muscles of the forearm. The top grip (Bottom hand top knuckles lined with the top hand knocking knuckles) allows for the elbows to be properly spaced to allow the arms to contribute to the whipping action of the bat.
The worst grip for ball exit speed was the commonly taught lining up of the knocking knuckles. This grip does not allow for the bat the start in an optimal position to create whip and bat speed. It is commonly taught by coaches who preach hitting the top of the ball and hitting ground balls. In fact, this grip did produce the highest rate of ground balls.