How we stand in the box, the way we set ourselves up to face the pitcher is extremely important.
One point I want to make at the very beginning is we do not necessarily want to use professional hitters, Major league hitters, as those we emulate.
In many cases, we’re not at the point in our career where we can emulate them or do what they do. Remember that those Major league hitters have taken, literally, millions of swings in their career.
The second thing that is not so recognizable is how strong they are. Their strength, having swung at those many pitches, is completely different from where we are in our career.
Starting with the Feet
We want to make sure that our feet are square. Very often these days we see either a stance that is too closed, that means the front foot is closer to the plate, or a stance that is too open, that means the front foot is farther away from the plate than the back foot.
What I advocate is the feet are square–even with the line of the plate. I also like to have the feet even. I don’t like them too much pigeon-toed or to open.
The Ankles and the Knees
Second, we like a little flexion in the ankles and in the knees. I like the knees squeezed together a little bit, and a slight bend in the waist.
What happens many times is that the hitter will get locked up if she bends down to much in the knees and the waist. The muscles in his legs will begin to tighten up, and there’s no way that she’s going to have a smooth, fluid swing. So I advocate only a slight break in the knees and a slight bend at the waist.
We like nice level shoulders. Too often I’ll see young girls softball hitters with their shoulders at an angle or they’re trying to keep their front shoulder down too much. Well, if your front shoulder is down to begin with, the first thing your body’s going to want you to do is to level it up. And once it starts up, it’s just going to keep going up so that you’re going to have an upward slant to your swing. So we want square shoulders.
We want a good two-eyed look at the pitcher. We don’t want to be looking around, or we don’t want to have our head tilted too much so that we don’t get a good look at the ball out of the hand.
Remembering our number one responsibility is to see the ball early, to see it big, and to see it as long as we can. The only way we can do that is to get a good two-eyed look at the ball.
The next thing is the grip. You want to hold the bat as far out in the fingers as is comfortable. I don’t advocate holding it way out in the fingers because there is no way that our hands are strong enough to propel the barrel through the ball.
On the other hand, we don’t want it way back in our thumb because this restricts the freedom of movement of our wrist.
The other thing is we don’t want to squeeze the bat too tight. Nice, loose, and relaxed.
Placement of the Hands
The placement of the hands are very important. I advocate having the hands even with the back shoulder or, at the most, the knob as far back as the back foot. The elbows are down.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to girls softball games and hear people yelling at their kids or the coaches yelling at the players to get their back elbow up. This is one of the worst things that a young hitter can do, is hit with her back elbow up. The flight of the barrel dictates that our elbows stay down.
A key coaching point is that the front elbow will be even with the sternum, and the back elbow will be hanging down even with the back hip.
This is a good solid stance for a young hitter. There are no extremes here. We don’t have the bat straight up. We don’t have it flat. It’s not sticking back. It’s not wrapped around our head. Our hands aren’t too low or too high. They’re right in a good hitting position. This way, the adjustments that we need to make in the next part of our swing are minimal.
Do your girls softball players need help with their hitting stance? This blog post should be able to help them!
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