We took some hacks with the Swingrail, had a few hitters try it out and read every online review we could find about the device. Generally, we think it an above average tool when compared to the number of swing gadgets on the market today. It helps players feel what “keeping their hands inside the ball” means. This, in turn, creates a quick to the ball approach on a good swing plane.
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If your hitting coach has told you that you “cast” the bat or your swing is “too long” then the Swingrail will likely be useful. (Assuming, of course, your hitting coach knows what they are talking about). The idea is the Swingrail is used during tee work or soft toss to create the right muscle memory. Improving your upper body mechanics to the shortest path to the ball is useful for any player (softball or baseball) at any level of the sport.
However, the Swingrail is far from a full hitting solution. And, the idea of getting your hands inside the ball or getting an optimal swing path is not new. The principle can be taught and drilled a hundred different ways. (See this YouTube search for some inside drills and this one for some bat path drills).
Does that make it worth the $29.99? Hard to make that decision for someone else’s money. But, our general feel is that anything that can get dad and son excited about getting in work is worth considering.
Among the Swingrail reviews, the biggest complaint about the device was how hard some younger players found it. If you don’t really drive the knob to the ball then you’ll struggle to make it work. The bat will not come off the rail. Younger players, say under 8 or 9, might find serious frustration in getting it to work. But, in some sense, that is the point. Make it work.
Before and After Swingrail
Our experiment was to take a novice hitter and establish baseline of his contact percentage and ball distance. We measured how many times he hit the ball and how far (using our Rapsodo) both before and after his first swingrail session.
In short, our results were inconclusive. However, we do believe his bat path looked better. Maybe most importantly, the hitter finally felt what it was like to get his hands in front of him. Or, as others say, get “inside” the ball. We are hopeful that, in time, the results will show from a better bat path and optimal contact points.
Here is a video of a pre and post Swingrail session.
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Staying Inside the Baseball
Any player, softball or baseball, could use the Swingrail. In particular, those who struggle to get “inside” baseball.
Getting inside the baseball is a misunderstood by a lot of folks. The phrase getting “inside” doesn’t mean very much by itself. Ultimlatlye, the idea is that our hands throw the knob of the bat towards the ball to create the pivot point of the bat out in front of us, towards the ball. This creates a quick to the ball bat path, maximum bat speed and a good bat swing path.
This video does a decent job explaining what getting inside the ball means.
Here are a few vidoes we found helpful in our research of the Swingrail. The principles of getting our hands “inside” the ball and attacking the ball in front of you are emphasized.