Hitting a round object with a round object is one of the hardest things to do and requires coordination and focus more than most people understand. The biomechanics involved in this complicated skill are amazing. For this reason it is important when working with new hitters to focus on basic softball hitting rather than getting complicated with different types of hitting
This also can make hitting one of the most over coached and analyzed skills of the game. One of the most difficult things about this skill is that there are so many “ways” to execute. Whenever someone comes out with something that worked for them and they have stats to prove it….. many will abandon the scientifically sound mechanics and try the new one in hopes of improving their batting average. My theory is …. stick to science. If you move your body and its limbs in the right directions at the right time with the right amount of rotation and force you should have success.
Some things that may effect basic softball hitting
- the score of the game
- the opponents
- the importance of the game
- the skill level of the athlete
- the inning
- the number of outs
- the count on the batter
- athlete strength / power
- athlete coordination skills
A new softball player can spend so much time thinking about making sure she does what she is supposed to do that she misses the ball entirely. A batter can go from hero to zero in 1 pitch because the skill has such an immediate effect on the game. There are a few things that a batter can do before they even go up to bat though to enhance not only the result of their at bat, but their overall experience at the plate.
- Do any thinking that might be done while you are on deck.
- While on deck, the batter can
- review mechanics
- watch the pitcher to get the timing down
- consider what her job is going to be at the plate
I often see batters who are in the on deck circle, talking to team mates in the dugout or fans on the other side of the fence. If your goal is to improve your at bats, use the time wisely just before you go up to the plate. While you are up to bat, the only thing that you want to be thinking about is “where is that ball?” Thinking about mechanics, turning the hips and hitting a home run will take away from your ability to focus on the ball. Give yourself all of the energy and concentration that you need to simply make good contact. Anything other than that should be worked on before that point.
There are enough distractions from the environment, that adding mechanical ones and trying to remember what you are “supposed” to do will only take away from your success. When I would have my batters up to bat I would simply say …. “hit the ball” I may recommend small adjustments in their mechanics such as lifting the hands a bit higher. Softball is a hitting game, and who doesn’t enjoy getting a hit. I have not met anyone yet who doesn’t.
Basic Softball Hitting Checklist
- feet about shoulder width apart
- allows stability in the batters box
- weight a slightly on your back foot
- assists in the “winding” movement or elastic effect
- knees a slightly bent
- assists in mobility and flexibility
- middle knuckles lined up
- forces a good line to the ball from the starting point of the bat
- elbows hanging
- relaxed and ready to move forward to the ball
- weight a little bit on the balls of your feet
- promotes mobility in the hit then movement out of the batters box
- keep your eyes on the ball
- we can’t hit what we cant see
- small step with your front foot
- beginning of rotation of core to the ball
- move your front elbow towards the ball
- directs the line of travel to the ball
- turn your hips to the pitcher (push back foot down and turn your foot)
- most powerful part of the body
- move your weight towards your front foot
- rotating into the ball
- hips are facing the pitcher
- the bat fast and hard through the ball keeping your eyes on the ball
- weight is balanced or slightly on the front foot
- wrists are rolled or turned over
- hips are facing the pitcher
- hands are wrapped around the shoulder
- eyes are moving to first base watching for the coach
I found it useful to laminate these checklists and have the athletes actually check the items off while working on skills during practice.
Basic Softball Hitting Stance
There are 3 common batting stances that will allow you to make adjustments in the batters box depending on the pitcher or the goal of the at bat. Each one will give you a different path of the bat to the ball and many times will allow you to direct the ball to any area of the field.
Closed batting stance
This stance can be used for a pitcher who consistently pitches to the outside part of the strike zone or if you are wanting to hit the ball to right field. If you are a pull hitter it will help you to delay your swing slightly so you will hit into the field rather than a foul ball. The difficulty with this stance might be that you see less of the ball.
The other difficulty with this stance is that the pitcher may simply pitch you inside trying to get you to pop the ball up or swing and miss the ball.
Parallel batting stance
This is a straight away batting stance. You might use it with a pitcher you have not seen before so that you can make quick adjustments if necessary. You may not have a specific goal for your at bat or you may be preparing to bunt which has more success from the parallel stance for many players especially less experienced ones.
Open batting stance
You may want to hit the ball to the left side or you may be consistently hitting the ball to the right foul line if you are a right handed batter. This stance will allow you to pull the ball back into the field. It is also helpful for a faster pitcher who you are having trouble getting the bat around on. Opening your vision allowing you to see the ball more clearly from the beginning of the pitch.