Softball, much like baseball, is a very popular and uniquely American sport. Whether it’s professional or recreational, millions of Americans love to play and watch softball every year. In fact, in 2017 alone, more than 25 million Americans played baseball or softball. Batting is a crucial part of the game, and the technique is very important. Whether you’re using indoor batting cages or planning on hitting it over the softball fences outdoors, here are some batting tips that should help you perfect your swing.

Grip
The batter should grip the bat with the fingers, not the palms. The bottom hand (left hand for right handed batters, and vise versa) should have the most pressure. The top hand, the opposite hand from the bottom, should very lightly grab the bat right above the bottom hand. The farther up the bat you grip, the more control the batter has. However, the bat then becomes shorter and less powerful.

Hand Position
When the batter is in position over the plate, their hands should be about three to four inches away from the body, particularly the chest area. Elbows should be down, and the shoulders should be free from tension.

Stance
When the batter steps up to the plate, he or she should be in the center of the batter’s box so they can have a chance to hit any ball that is pitched within the strike zone. The feet should be parallel to the direction home plate is facing and placed approximately shoulder’s width apart. Weight should be evenly distributed over the balls of the feet with the knees slightly bent. Keep a relaxed stance.

Contact
The place of contact is going to depend on where the pitch is placed, but you want the ball to contact the bat right in the center of the head. At first, both arms should be at 90 degrees. Once the ball is struck, the arms should be completely extended. The contact is what is going to send the ball flying over the softball fences and create that satisfying “crack!”

Follow-Through
Okay, the follow-through is actually what will send the ball over the softball fences. Once the ball is contacted, the batter must continue swinging their arms so the bat almost hits the back, and the back shoulder should be almost touching the chin. Without the follow-through, the ball will not travel as far.

Batting is one of the most fun parts of playing softball, but practice is key if you want to fit the ball over the outfield fences. Keep these tips in mind to perfect your batting technique so you can crush the ball every time.