Baseball & Softball Hitting Technique Using The "Top Hand Release" Style

by Bobby Woods May 30, 2022

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In any given Major League line-up 6 to 7 hitters use the Top Hand Release.This photo above shows using the Top Hand Release Style of Hitting. 

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Many baseball and softball fans may have watched a major league baseball game and baseball videos and wondered why the hitter lets go of the bat after contact. It almost seems like the pro is hitting with one hand! This technique is called “The Top Hand Release” and this is how to make it really work well.

When done correctly, both hands are on the bat at contact with the ball. In the case of a right handed hitter, the right hand should release from the bat on the inside of the left shoulder as the bat follows through the hitting zone. Ideally, the hand should finish above the left shoulder with flexion in the right arm.

The left-handed hitter should release the left hand in the same manner. Without a doubt more hitters today in the major leagues are top hand release hitters than top hand dominant hitters.

Some former and current  major league hitters applying top hand release are Willie Mays, George Brett, Roberto Clemente, Tony Gywnn, Cal Ripken, Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Derik Lee, Albert Pujols, Shawn Green, Manny Ramirez, Bernie Williams, David Ortiz Ryan Howard,  Johnny Damon, Cody Bellinger and Justin Turner. Switch hitting Bernie Williams formerly of the NY Yankees  was top hand dominant as a right handed hitter and released his top hand when he batted left handed. Vladimir Guerro, Jr. of the Toronto Blue Jays releases his top hand on some pitches and is dominant on others.

But what is a top hand dominant hitter?

Quite simply, this type of hitter keeps both hands on the bat all the way through the swing until he or she starts to run to first base.

There are also many great former and present top hand dominant hitters in the major leagues.

Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Johnny Bench, Mike Piazza, Ted Williams,  Derik Jeter and Mike Trout use this method just to mention a few.

As you can see, there are some awesome hitters in both lists. However, while watching, a Yankees versus Red Sox game, I charted each hitter that started the game. Fourteen out of the 18 hitters released their top hand. Exactly 7 Yankees and 7 Red Sox hitters used this method.These percentages can vary from team to team.

So, why do so many hitters in the major leagues use the top hand release style of hitting today? And why can  this style be more advantageous than the top hand dominant style of hitting?

Here are the reasons:
  • It allows the hitter to hit to the opposite field with more power because the bat stays in the strike zone longer during the swing.
  • There is less chance for the head, chin and shoulder to pull off the ball, therefore allowing the hitter to see the ball better.
  • It helps weight transference, by creating less tension in the swing, resulting also in better balance.
  • It increases bat speed because top hand release hitters extend the bat more after contact than top hand dominant hitters.

Here are some observations that coaches and parents should consider before teaching the top hand release style of hitting.

It can be difficult to teach young children the top hand release because they release their top hand too early. In this case, they should remain top hand dominant. Try teaching it again next season.

Some hitters may not like releasing their top hand. It should always be the desion of the hitter if he or she wants to release their top hand.

The vast majority of my private hitting students are top hand dominant hitters when I first start teaching them hitting skills. When I introduce the top hand release style of hitting to both the boys and the girls, a very high majority of them choose the top hand release style of hitting.

Thank you for taking your time to read this article. I hope it has been informative and helpful.

Good luck in your coaching the great games of baseball and softball.

Bobby Woods

Instructional Hitting Video

Bobby Woods
Bobby Woods


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