In hitting a ball properly, executing the perfect batting stance is a crucial skill. But there are many types of stances. When you watch a baseball or softball game, you’ll probably notice that each player has their own stance. That’s okay; there’s really no such thing as a single batting stance that’s best for all players.
But despite the differences for each player, each stance fall into one of 3 categories: even (or square) stance, open stance, or closed stance. As a hitter, your choice depends greatly on what feels comfortable with you. Your stance should accommodate how upright you are when you stand or how low you get when you squat.
The Even or Square Batting Stance
In this stance, both feet are evenly in line with the pitcher. They’re both at the same distance to the home plate and bot parallel to the edge of the batter’s box. Your stride simply goes straight toward the pitcher.
This is undoubtedly the most commonly used stance by hitters. It’s the stance that beginners should start with, and some coaches may even say that it’s the best stance of them all.
From this stance, you’re in the best position to hit any pitch that crosses the strike zone. The upper body is already in the right position to hit the softball. It’s also easier in this stance to see what the pitcher’s doing with both your eyes.
The Open Stance
This is the stance where the back foot (the one near the catcher) is a step or so nearer to home plate. You’re facing the pitcher a little.
This open stance is the most common hitting stance next to the even stance. Usually, a player decides on this stance when:
- They’re having a bit of trouble seeing the ball with the even stance. This open stance starts with you facing the pitcher more, so you can turn your head more fully to see the pitcher better.
- They’re more successful at pulling the ball. The open stance allows you to reach outside balls and pull them when you make contact.
- They’re “stepping in the bucket” a little bit when they’re in the even stance. “Stepping in the bucket” means your front foot goes toward the shortstop if you’re right-handed. It’s toward the 2nd baseman if you’re left-handed. But for the most effective hitting, your front foot should land towards the pitcher when you make your swing. So on the open stance, the tendency is for the front foot to step towards home plate. This negates the tendency to step away from the plate.
For young players, stepping in the bucket is a natural reaction, especially when a right-handed player is facing a right-handed pitcher. It just looks like the ball will hit them. If you’re feeling apprehensive, then the open stance may be the better option for you.
The Closed Stance
There was a time during the 1980s and the early 1990s when the closed stance was very popular. This is the stance that has your front foot (the one nearer the pitcher) closer t the home plate. Nowadays, very few players use it. Usually, this is used for hitting the ball the other way.
On the other hand, there are several drawbacks to this stance:
- This stance makes it harder for you to see the ball and the pitcher clearly. That’s because your back is a little towards the pitcher.
- It can be more difficult to stay square with the pitcher.
- You’re not able to handle inside pitches as effectively and as consistently.
This is the last stance you should try. It’s only when the even or open stance doesn’t really work that this closed stance should be considered.
Regardless of which starting stance you pick, here are the additional steps you need to take:
- Your feet should be a little bit more than a shoulder width apart. About 6 to 8 inches wider than shoulder-width will do just fine.
- The center of gravity of your body should be a little more away from the pitcher. This means putting a bit more weight on your back foo, which is the foot that’s nearer to the catcher.
- The front foot should be open to the pitcher at an angle of 45 degrees.
- Your hips and shoulders should be level. You don’t want a hint of looking like you’re presenting your chest to the sky or bowing to the ground. This keeps your entire body balanced properly.
- Tuck in your front shoulders towards your body. It should be just a little bit of a tuck in, and you should still feel comfortable.
- Your body, head, and eyes should all be level. All these should be in the same plane.
- Your chin should be tucked in just a little bit towards your front shoulders. This gives you a good view of the pitcher and the softball that’s coming toward you.
- Hold the bat out in front of you, with your hands anywhere from 8 to 12 inches apart.
- The back arm should be within the same plane as your back shoulder.
- Your elbows should be about 6 to 8 inches from your body. You should bend it in a comfy position. Don’t point your elbow clear up in the air. This will affect your swing and cause your bat to drop.
- Hold the bat at an angle exactly in the middle of completely horizontal and completely vertical. It’s not exactly comfy when the bat is perfectly perpendicular to your body. It’s not good either when your bat is pointing straight to the sky.
It’s all about being comfortable as you take your stance and make your swings. You may need to tweak or correct your stance as you go along. When everything’s easy and comfortable, and you’re making hits consistently, then you’re executing the perfect batting stance. Just do the same stance over and over again because, as they say practice makes perfect.