Hitting is one of the most complicated and difficult tasks of all athletics. It takes hours and hours just to refine a sound, fundamental swing. And that’s only the beginning.
You must first understand some basic concepts about softball hitting.
Concepts of Softball Hitting
One of the most important concepts of softball hitting is where you make contact with each pitch. The second point is when do you start your swing in order to make contact at that point. Then you have to become involved in the mental aspects of the game. Being able to focus. Maintaining concentration so that you can hit a ball being thrown at you up to speeds of over 60 miles an hour.
In today’s article, I am going to talk about one of the basic mechanics of softball hitting – STANCE. This article is aimed at both the athlete and the coach.
To begin with, we’re going to talk about a standard stance. You can start off pretty much anywhere you want to. Your starting point really doesn’t matter. What matters is where you end up. So where your stride ends up – that’s your hitting point. That’s the area where you want to be the most stable. So before you do anything else, you want to bring your athletes into the batter’s box and all you want to tell them to do is take a step, okay? Have them take a step. Now when they take that step, you ask them, “How did that feel? Do you feel good and stable. Does this feel where you’re comfortable and you could swing a bat from there?” And if they agree and they say, “Yeah, coach, this feels really good,” then just leave them right there, put a bat in their hands, and have them swing the bat a few times, and you take a look at them. Have them swing the bat as hard as they can to see if they’re balanced, if everything works well. And then you can adjust it. You can say, “Okay, that looks really good,” or “We need to push it out a little bit. Get a little bit wider,” or “We need to pull it down a little bit. Get a little bit closer.” You can make those adjustments.
The first thing you deal with when you’re working on mechanics is you start down at the feet. And you want to find out what their stride length wants to be. Now if you’re just talking measuring at what the distance should be, it’s about 6-12″ past their shoulders. That should be a comfortable stride length for any one of your hitters depending on their height.
The next thing we’re going to do is position their feet so we have their front foot about three inches in front of the bat. So you’re going to be in a staggered stance. From there we come up to the knees and we’re going to have a slight flexion in the knees. We don’t want to be straight up and down. We don’t want to have a big bend. We want to have a slight flexion. Now we’ll come up with the hips. Hips stay over the knees, follow up to your trunk, and to your arms and hands.
Now the trunk becomes a very important part of your swing. A common mistake that a lot of athletes do with their trunk is that they bend over. And the problem with that is, number one, if they keep their trunk bent over this is an unnatural position and they have a tendency to drop underneath and uppercut the ball. The second thing they do when they bend over too far with their trunk is that they stand up straight as they swing. So now their head is moving in this motion. Which means their eye is moving, so it’s coming off the ball. So we want to make sure that our kids don’t bend over. And again with the younger athletes, if they don’t have a lot of strength, they’ll have a tendency to bend over to try to pull the bat through. So you want to make sure you bring them up.
Now, on the other side, we don’t want to be straight up and down either. So you don’t want to be the other end of the spectrum. You don’t want to be bent way over and you do not want to be straight up and down. So you want to find a happy medium in between there where they are comfortable and they can get a good controlled swing from.
The Arms & Hands
Okay. From your trunk, now you’re going to go to your arms and your hands. Now this is a very important part. One of the most common mistakes you’re going to find is you’re going to have kids dropping their bat all the time. They’re going to bring their hands down here below their chest. Now that leads to many problems. And again, it goes on strength. The kids are just not strong enough to control the bat that they have. And so they bring it down so they can use their body more to swing with it. But you want to make sure that their hands are up above their chest. The common rule is their hands should be no lower than the top of the chest or the bottom of the ear. So we want to find a happy medium somewhere around chest height and ear.
The next thing we’re going to talk about is going to deal with hands again. We’re in our stance, and we have our hands at a comfortable point. When we initiate our stride, we need to cock our hands. We need to get them into a hitting zone. So when we initiate our stride and our movement starts forward, our hands move back. This is a cocking mechanism. Now as your hands move back, we’re creating a greater lever so we can create bat speed moving forward through the ball.
And the last point we want to talk about is your head. One thing you want to remember – you must watch the ball come in at all times. You must keep your eye on the ball. You’ve heard that a thousand times and that is true. You must keep your eye on the ball. So when you’re in your stance and you’re preparing to hit the ball, you want to have your head down and in, and make sure it’s turned toward the pitcher. You want to look at the pitch with both eyes. So you have to make sure you turn your head and you square your face with the pitcher when you’re out there.
How is your player’s stance? Did this article help to address any questions you might have about stance? Share your thoughts or comments below! And don’t forget to Become a Fan on Facebook, where you can connect with other softball fans!
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