One constant message we send to our players regarding hitting is “your first mistake is your worst mistake.” A hitter’s first mistake causes the subsequent pieces of the swing to deteriorate. This idea makes a hitter’s setup and grip extremely important! This particular article is going to focus on the grip portion of the setup.
Over the past year, I have noticed an interesting trend when new evaluations come to our facility. Young kids and kids that have had little training tend to grip the bat in a very similar fashion to most major leaguers. While other parts of their swing may need a bit of work, their grip tends to be very good. In contrast, kids who have had prolonged instruction tend to be a little more polished in terms of mechanics but usually use a grip that aligns the door knocking knuckles. This observation leads me to believe that the knocking knuckles alignment commonly taught by coaches at all levels is not innately comfortable or powerful, but is a pattern that overrides the natural intuition of a young hitter. The following video will explain the difference between the grips and the advantages given to a hitter when using the axe grip.
As I mentioned in the video, the vast majority of Major League hitters utilize a grip much closer to the axe grip than the door knocking knuckles configuration. Here are just a few examples of high-level hitters using the axe grip:
I made sure to use Don Mattingly as an example because he is one of the main advocates for the door knocking knuckles grip. Mattingly is also a proponent of the faulty down and through swing methodology. It is clear in the photograph above that Mattingly holds the bat with an axe-like grip. As a current teacher of hitting, Mattingly fails to properly identify and teach the mechanics that he and fellow Hall of Famers successfully used. He has even designed the v-grip handle to help players line up the knocking knuckles. Here is Mattingly in a video teaching grip:
Changing your grip may be the easiest hitting adjustment you will ever make but it can have a major impact on your swing. Thanks for reading!