Softball Hitting Methods
Today I am going to talk about the many ways to hit and the pitfalls that can come with finding the right one. Hitting is a skill that has gone through many transformations over the years. I myself have seen at least 6 different hitting methods over my 23 years of coaching. And each one is vigorously defended by those who believe in it.
The difficulty is that players don’t always stay with the same coach. The players that move to other teams are possibly going to deal with a coach that teaches hitting differently than the one they just worked with. There are also players who were hitting just fine under their previous coach but because their new coach has a different hitting philosophy they change the hitting mechanics which usually creates problems for the hitter.
One of the most difficulties I have with the various hitting philosophies is that those that believe strongly in their methods believe just as strongly that anyone who has a different philosophy has to be wrong. I have had numerous conversations with coaches, parents and instructors on hitting philosophy and at the end of the day only one person counts in this discussion, and that’s the hitter.
The point is, softball is a game. It’s not a trip to the moon where every single aspect needs to be calculated because lives depend on it. I think it’s important for coaches and those that teach hitting, to realize that there are different methods. And if a player, depending on her skill level develops her own characteristics for hitting and they are successful, it doesn’t mean that they are wrong. It simply means that they have a different hitting style.
My views on the game and hitting in softball are sometimes referred to as out of the ordinary and I am ok with that because my main concern is the athletes and the coaches I work with. We want our players to enjoy the game, with as little frustration as possible. I don’t think we need to be as adamant about how they do things if they are successful.
This will change of course depending on the experience level of the players. It’s kind of like fielding. how often do we say use 2 hands when fielding the ball. Of course that’s the ideal way, to keep the ball in the glove and to enhance the transition to throwing but there are times when it is not possible to do that. So what do we say then? We say get the ball any way you can.
An 8U softball player however who is just learning how to hit is going to require more fundamental hitting instruction than one who has been playing for 10 years. The basic fundamentals in my opinion should be the same. Those include sequence, weight shift and of course keeping your eye on the ball. In general, the feet start the swing, followed by the hips and then the bat comes through the strike zone.
Of course there are many more segments that are included in that sequence, but the basics should be the same. The eyes should always be on the ball, and there are different ways to achieve that as well. the beginning stance can be modified depending on the speed of the pitch and what the hitters tendencies are. This is why video analysis is a good tool during games as well as during practices.
You can see more about what a hitter does during the preparation, the execution and the follow through in a real situation. Mimicking the best mechanics is easier in a practice than in a game. If the athlete is having trouble, then adjustments can be made.