Before stepping into the softball batters box to receive any pitch, there are a few considerations that will mentally and physically enhance the results. First there is the objective that was relayed by the coach by some form of communication either by signals or by what was requested verbally before going to the plate. Often at the beginning of an offensive inning for example, I would tell the first batter on her way out of the dugout what I wanted her to do and then the next one what I would likely want her to do depending if the previous batter got on base. I might be asking batters to hit, sacrifice bunt, protect the runner or any number of tasks that would be useful to our offense.
Softball Batters Box Rules
It is a good idea between pitches for the batter to take one foot out of the batter’s box to prevent the pitcher from pitching and to check with the coach that the signal is either the same or it might have changed. It used to be that the batter could completely step out of the batters box between pitches however due to the amount of delay that this caused, it has been changed to one foot only once the batter has taken their position in the batters box. Otherwise a warning or a strike can be called.
It is important to know the batter’s box well because if the batter’s foot is outside of the box when contact is made, she will be called out in Canada and USA softball. A note as well, the entire foot needs to be out of the box and not just a part of it, and if the batter is seen attempting to remove any part of the batters box, they can be called out. Although again, it depends on what the umpire sees and what their interpretation is. In this rule, the lines are considered to be inside the batter’s box. If you are watching an NCAA softball game, the new rule as of 2018 is that if any part of the foot is outside the box, the batter will be called out. This only applies wo NCAA and will be hard to call for the plate umpire as they are generally watching balls and strikes and the result of the pitch so it may not always be called. For this reason, if the batter is wanting to acquire an NCAA scholarship, it is good to use this rule during their high school or club play.
Batters Box Positioning
Having as much information as possible before going up to the plate will allow the batter to get a head start on their positioning. For example, if the pitcher is exceptionally fast, the batter might set up towards the back of the box. Some coaches will recommend that the batter position more at the front of the box at all times because then they can catch pitches before they change direction or position. The theory behind moving towards the back is to give the batter more time to react to the pitch. The opposite of that of course is that if the pitcher pitches slower, then the batter will position closer to the front of the box depending on the speed. Some may be concerned about the catcher in setting up further back in the box. The catcher has a 10 foot batters box and needs to adjust to where the batter sets up.
Having knowledge of the pitchers abilities and the types of pitches that they pitch consistently or stuff, can also have an influence on where the batter sets up in the box. When facing a pitcher who pitches a rise ball, drop ball, curve ball, the batter might set up closer to the front of the box. This would be done in an attempt to get the ball before it breaks or changes direction or height.
The batter needs to decide as well which aspect of the pitch is going to have a greater effect on her performance at the plate. If the pitcher pitches faster than the batter is used to and has stuff, it might be more effective to move closer to the back of the box because their reaction time might not be fast enough to catch the ball before it changes. The batter might have a better chance of hitting the ball because not all pitches are going to move through stuff and if they do, the chances of getting the pitches are not good anyway.
What about the pitchers consistency? If she does not have control, again, it depends on the speed of the pitch. Move to the location of the box where the batter is most comfortable. If the pitcher consistently throws to the inside of the plate, the batter will position farther away from the plate. The same is true for a pitcher who throws outside consistently, the batter will position closer to the plate. If the pitcher throws a ball that has an arc due to the lack of speed, there are two theories on this. I say move back in the box to catch the ball on the way down from the arc. Some say to move up because it is slow. The difficulty with this though is that the swing will be under the arc most times.
Another option that some batters use is to set up at the plate to encourage a pitcher to pitch to their strength. A good pull hitter might want the pitcher to pitch more on the inside of the plate so she will set up closer to the plate. Likewise an opposite field hitter might set up away from the plate trying to draw an outside pitch. This is not always recommended as we have to expect that the defense is scouting the hitters as much as the hitters study the pitcher and defense. Therefore, a pull hitter is potentially well known and the pitcher will simply pitch to the defense strength rather than what the batter is calling for by her position in the box. The best way to position in this situation is so that the batter can reach all corners. This is done by holding the bat in the bottom hand and making sure she can reach the far corner of the plate.
Batters Box Standards
The best plan is to learn how to hit from a consistent place in the batter’s box. this will depend on the length of the batters arms, the height of the batter, their reaction time and ability to read the pitch. Softball is a hitting game so the batter should be able to make contact with any type of pitch from their position in the box.
Mentally prepare before getting into the box. A feeling of confidence is essential to a good at bat. This can be done by thinking only about the task at hand rather than the importance of the at bat or what might happen if the at bat is not successful. Of course we want our hitters to know the importance of the at bat but we do not want them to be preoccupied with anything but making contact with the ball as successfully as possible.