Before you step into the box, you’ve gotta go through your on-deck routine. For some players, this is as simple as taking a few practice swings. For others, it’s as complicated as a series of elaborated stretches, movements, and mental gymnastics. Either way, you’ve got to be ready when the umpire says Batter Up!
To help you establish your own routine, we’re going to share a few of our favorite on-deck practices. We’ll also take a look at the best training bats for the on-deck circle along with a couple of the game’s most iconic on-deck routines. We hope you enjoy this all-encompassing breakdown of the art of the on-deck hitter. Let’s get started.
Establishing Your On-Deck Routine
Before you take a stab at trying to hit a 90+ mph fastball or a knee-buckling curveball, you’re going to want to prepare both your mind and body. Take a few practice swings. Get the feel of your swing before honing in on the pitcher. Observe what the pitcher is throwing and try to time your swing to their pitches. This will allow you, no matter how hard (or soft) they are throwing, to be prepared to hit the moment you step into the box.
[Note: Some hitters like to use a bat donut (or weight) to create a heavier swing in the on-deck circle. This is a fine practice, but know that it does not actually improve your swing speed during your at-bat.]
As you mentally prepare for your at-bat, the following tips can be helpful:
- Settle your mind
- Control your breathing
- Establish a rhythm
- Prepare for the situation
- Create a repeatable set of actions
On-Deck Circle Dimensions
The official on deck circle dimensions, according to Major League Baseball, is 5 feet in diameter, 74 feet apart from each other, and if a straight line was drawn from the center of each circle, it would pass 10 feet behind home plate.
When it comes to youth baseball, there are no set criteria for the on-deck circles. Oftentimes, the circle is drawn in the dirt by the leadoff hitter for both teams. It is at the umpire's discretion if the on-deck hitter is in a safe area. Dugout coaches can also help determine the proper positioning of the awaiting hitter.
Where did the term on deck come from?
Both of the baseball terms on deck and in the hole originally came from phrases describing life on a ship. “On deck” referred to a boat hand ready to assist as soon as he/she was needed or cargo was ready to be offloaded. “In the hold” (later changed to "in the hole") was a term used in reference to the cargo space of a ship.
Hunter Pence’s On-Deck Routine
Over the years, we have seen a myriad of different routines used by players to get ready for their at-bats. None have ever confused the human mind more than the on-deck ritual performed by the illustrious Hunter Pence. Before you take a peek at one of baseball’s most cherished oddities, we must remind you that Pence was a 4x All-Star, 2x World Series Champion, and the Robin (hit .444 in seven games) to Madison Bumgarner’s Batman-Esque performance in the 2014 World Series. We say all of that to preface the strangest on deck routine in baseball history. There are few words to describe, see for yourself…
We hope you learned something during this breakdown of the on-deck circle. If you are new to the blog, we want to welcome you to JustBats. We specialize in all things bats. At JustBats, we are proud to offer the largest selection of baseball bats and softball bats on the internet. We also have a team of Bat Experts waiting to assist you with any questions you might have. Feel free to contact us via phone at 866-321-2287, email at email@example.com, or click here to live chat. Don't forget, with our customer service, we'll be here for you from click to hit!