Learn, adjust, and groove (practice) the three major components of ground up hitting: setup, stance, and stride. Our training system is designed to enable baseball and softball players from all levels of experience to use our hitting mats for developing a deeper awareness of foundational footwork. Practice the right habits from the ground up and count on your training to be a better batter in any situation thrown your way.
Advanced Hitters have played the game for a few years. They know the basics of hitting, have become comfortable with a swinging motion, and are ready to start making adjustments at the plate. Usually 9 and older. The advanced hitter should have a good understanding of their setup, stance, and stride. Their goal is to keep making adjustments until they find where they are best at. Choose between our Advanced Single Box Mat or Advanced Hitter Mat.
For Advanced Hitters, please skip to Step 3:
When first teaching players how to hit, starting from the ground up will save young athletes from having to correct bad habits as they grow into their bodies. Use the grid system on your hitting mat, and start from the guidelines below, making individualized player adjustments based on height and body size.
We recommend setting up in Row A, with the center of your feet on Line 4. From here, take a few dry swings with your bat and get a feel for positioning. If your arms are long or you feel too close to the plate, adjust to Row B or further back.
We recommend starting with a stance with the space of two columns between your feet, placing your front foot in Column 5, and your back foot in Column 2. The aim is to feel balanced and comfortable, with your legs forming a steady base to initiate power from for your swing. You may have to adjust your stance based on your height. The taller you are, the wider your stance will become.
We recommend striding with your front foot from A5 to A6 during your swing. This will keep your stance square and give you a balanced stride.
After you’ve identified your proper ground setup, it’s time to groove it. Grooving it refers to the practice of repeating your setup, stance and stride until it becomes a habit through muscle memory. Here’s more information on How to Groove Your Swing.
Once you’ve grooved your setup (meaning you’ve practiced it consistently enough for it to become a mental and physical habit), you’ll be ready to move on to Advanced Hitter adjustments.
Once a player has grooved their hitting form, it’s time to practice for in-game adjustments. These adjustments will be relative to your current hitting form. There are three main adjustments a player can make, and it’s important to practice adjustments to be prepared for the variety of scenarios you’ll face as a batter:
Plate Positioning refers to your feet placement in relationship to home plate, and it has a huge influence while you’re in the batters box. Your hitting setup affects your reaction time and will determine your success rate among different pitches. There are 4 main adjustments baseball and softball players can make to their plate positioning.
Back In the Box
Up In the Box
Back Off the Plate
Up On the Plate
Moving Back in the Box means the hitter places their feet towards the back of the batter’s box, away from the pitching mound and towards the lower numbers on the mat’s labeled grid.
A batter would move Back in the Box for the following reasons:
The batter is swinging late on pitches.
The pitcher is throwing faster than the batter is comfortable with.
The batter wants more reaction time.
Moving Up in the Box means the hitter places their feet towards the front of the batter’s box, towards the pitching mound and towards the higher numbers on the mat’s labeled grid.
The batter is swinging early on pitches.
The pitcher is throwing slower than the batter is used to.
If the batter wants to focus on keeping balls in fair territory.
If the batter plans on bunting.
Moving Towards the Plate means setting up with feet placed closer towards home plate and towards Row A on the mat’s labeled turf. The closest one can move towards the plate is Row A on our regulation batters box mat, or the plate side batter’s box line.
A batter would move Towards the Plate for the following reasons:
The batter is having trouble with an outside pitch.
The batter enjoys hitting inside pitches.
Moving Away From the Plate means placing the feet away from home plate, or away from Row A on the turf’s labeled grid system.
A batter would move Towards the Plate for the following reasons:
The batter is having trouble with an inside pitch, or gets jammed easily.
The batter enjoys hitting outside pitches and extending their hands.
Your Stance is how your feet are positioned in relation to each other. It will affect how a batter sees the ball, the bat path, hitter’s balance, the direction of momentum and the bat power a hitter generates.
There are 5 main adjustments a batter can make to their stance. All adjustments can be made in isolation, and some hitting adjustments can be made in combination. The 5 main adjustments for baseball and softball hitting are:
Wide Batting Stance
Narrow Batting Stance
Open Batting Stance
Square Batting Stance
Closed Batting Stance
A wide hitting stance simply means moving your two feet further apart.
Widening your stance provides more stability during your swing, requires less stride and less body and head movement.
A player would train with or adjust to a wider stance for the following reasons:
The batter finds them self unbalanced, falling forward or backward.
The batter is having trouble making contact with the baseball / softball.
A narrow stance simply means moving your two feet closer together.
A player would train with or adjust to a narrow stance for the following reasons:
The batter is not hitting for power.
The batter’s hands are getting tied up or jammed often.
An open stance means that the front foot is setting up further away from home plate than the front foot.
A batter would practice or adjust to an open stance for the following reasons:
The batter is having trouble seeing the ball or picking up off speed pitches.
This could be an indication that the batter’s vision is ‘back-eye’ dominant.
The batter is having trouble pulling the ball (hitting the ball to the side of the field that aligns with their batters box).
A square stance means that the front and back feet are in the same column, which the gridlines on our turf mats make clear to see.
A player would practice or adjust to square stance for the following reasons:
The batter likes to hit to all fields.
The batter is looking for minimum movement and a smooth simple swing.
A closed stance means that the front foot is starting closer to home plate than the back foot.
A player would practice or adjust to a closed stance for the following reasons:
The batter is having trouble hitting to the opposite field.
The batter is having trouble with power.
Some players can increase rotational power by starting in a close stance.
Your stride is how you create momentum from your back foot to your front foot and triggers the start of your swing. Stride is important for influencing how hard you swing at the ball which controls power and ball contact.
Typically, a bigger stride will create more momentum and power in your swing, but it requires more body movement and more room for error which can decrease ball contact.
A smaller stride will not create as much momentum and power, but less body movement creates less margin for error and greater likelihood of ball contact.
There are 5 main adjustments a batter can make to their stride. These can be made in isolation and some in combination with another. The 5 main adjustments to practice are:
No Stride or Heel Pick
No stride or a heel pick refers to not picking up the toes on the front foot.
A batter would adjust to a heel pick if:
The batter is having trouble making contact with the ball.
The batter is having trouble with off speed pitches.
Some batters use a heel pick during 2-strike hitting to increase the odds of making ball contact.
While stride length is different for every player, a half stride is typically striding around half a column on our turf mats, or 3 inches.
A hitter would adjust to a half stride if:
The batter wants more contact (and less power) than a Full Stride.
The batter also wants more power than a Heel Pick.
Again, while stride length will be different for each individual player, we recommend a full stride to be one full row on our hitting mats, or 6 inches.
A batter would adjust to Full Stride if:
The hitter is looking for a happy medium between balance, power and contact.
Toe Tapping refers to the batter tapping their front foot a row behind their setup position and then striding.
A player would adjust to a Toe Tap if:
The batter is looking to create more power.
The batter can still remain comfortably in control with the added complex movement during their swing.
A Leg Lift means shifting your weight to your back foot, raising your front knee to a 90 degree angle and then striding.
A player would adjust to a Leg Lift if:
The batter is looking to create even more power than a Toe Tap.
The batter can still remain comfortably in control with the complex movement during their swing.
Training Your Swing essentially means practicing your plate positioning, stance, stride and swing enough times for it to become a consistent habit and be ingrained in your muscle memory.
There are many ways for softball and baseball players to groove their swing. We detail a few drills that can help you to practice and master your swing from the ground up. Essentially, it all comes down to repetition, but repetition is only helpful if you’re practicing the right habits, which is why visual feedback and points of reference are crucial. The more practice, the more repetition you can get with each ground game combination, and the better baseball or softball hitter you will become.
For these practice exercises, we recommend having a parent, player or coach watch your setup and stride. The observer should be able to communicate to the batter on whether or not they are setting up and striding on the right coordinates.
Alternatively, we’ve had customers set up a phone camera to get video feedback to make sure they’re completing drills with proper setup and stride mechanics. This can be a great way for a player to internalize and improve their foundational groundwork. A cheap snake-style phone holder usually works.
Dry Loads (2-15 repetitions): Walk to the plate and line up with your intended plate positioning and stance. Then practice your intended stride. You should be balanced and on the balls of your feet. Look down at your feet to get comfortable and internalize how this setup looks and feels. This should become a natural feeling and you should be able to position your feet in the proper coordinates.
Dry Swings (2-15 repetitions): Continue working on your plate positioning, stance and stride, but now add a full swing as if you were hitting a baseball. Make sure your plate positioning, stance and stride start and finish in the proper surface coordinates.
Front or Side Toss (2-15 repetitions): Have someone flip you the ball from either behind an L-Screen (Front Toss) or by standing off to the side (Side Toss). Practice trying to hit different pitch locations and follow the momentum charts above.
Live Batting Practice (5-50 repetitions): Work on your setup and stride while someone pitches to you live. Remember to look at your feet before and after to get proper visual feedback on where they’re starting and finishing on your hitting mat. You should try to maintain the same ground work as when you did your Dry Swings.
And most importantly, have fun! Hitting can be exciting, engaging and even therapeutic. Celebrate small successes and improvements. Avoid practicing past the point of fatigue (noticing your technique and mechanics starting to slip is a sign of fatigue). Making it to the big leagues doesn’t happen overnight. High-performing athletes reach new levels and increase their potential through fine-tuned adjustments and reinforced habits.