Troubleshooting is probably one of the biggest things we do as a coach. When we are at a game or we’re in a practice, we always give constant tips and things that we see to batters to help them out to be more successful. When we’re in practice is when we want to do most of our coaching. One of the things we want to do in practice is hitting drills over and over and over again in one basic common way, so that when we go into a game, we do everything straightforward.
So in a practice situation or a batting cage situation, here’s some of the things we want to look for during out hitting drills, starting with the stance.
Always Check Your Players Stance
Take the players bat and make sure that she has a good straightforward stance. Every time that I teach, I try to teach a basic proper mechanic as opposed to what we call a band-aid. A band-aid might be, for example this player is not very good at hitting outside corner pitches, maybe she’s stepping out. So what she’ll do is drop her foot back so she’s got a closed stance. What she’s done is made it better for her to hit outside corner pitches, but made it harder to hit an inside corner pitch. So she’s created a band-aid. Fixed one thing, but didn’t fix the whole picture.
- Place a line on the ground
- And then we want the player to keep her toes on that straight line/line up the feet in a straight line
- Make sure the same line that we’re on with our feet is the same line we are with our hips and the same line with our shoulders
– Now without a bat, get in your batter’s stance and look out at the pitcher. Stand in front of her, and make sure you can see her hands and that her shoulders, hips, and her feet are all in the straight line.
– Make sure that her feet are nice and wide. One rule of thumb on that is that, if you take your shoulders and add a straight line coming down, you want to be a few inches outside of that, so just outside our shoulder width to create that good balanced V.
– A narrower stance will mean she’s not as balanced and will force her to take a longer stride. So starting a little wider creates a smaller step, and will make her swing a little bit quicker.
So, in review there, we want to make sure that our feet are lined up straight with our hips and our shoulders. We want to be, as a pitcher, be able to see her hands out in front of her body. We want to make sure that she’s nice and wide and balanced with a nice, slight knee bend to help relax those muscles. And these are a couple of things to look for in your batter’s stance.
The next aspect we are going to talk about is the load. And then we’re going to do really basic hitting drills on how we can work on the loading process when we hit.
Have the athlete get in her batter’s stance. And what I’m going to do as a coach is I’m going to stand behind and grab the player right above the rib cage. And I’m going to have them push back with their body without moving the hands.
So what I want to happen is the whole body moves back, and her hands stay in the hitting position. But I’m giving a little bit of resistance to remind her that we want to stay short. Short without load and to keep our hands in that hitting position, and then we’re ready to go.
A couple things to look for in the load –
When we get in our stance, we want to have those hands behind our shoulder. So again when we load, our hands aren’t going to move, it’s the body that moves the hands.
And the other thing is our knee. We’re going to load our body back and keep the knee on the inside of the foot. Get in your good stance, your hands back and we should feel pressure on the inside of the leg when we’re loading back.
So in the load, a couple things to look for is:
- make sure that this back side doesn’t fall back this way. Just push up against a firm coach holding them still.
- remind them to keep that front knee inside the foot so we’re not having that knee go behind our foot this way. You want to have the pressure coming up against it.
- keep that load nice and small.
See The Ball
The next aspect we are going to talk about is see the ball. This is probably one of the biggest aspects to drill, that will get those ideas in the head of the young hitter on how to watch that ball when it comes in.
We’re going to work on one of the most basic of hitting drills. It’s just working on keeping your head still.
- The player gets into her good stance, and she’s going to load and swing.
- She’s going to kick a swing where she’s not going to take her eyes off the tee as she swings and freeze. Her head doesn’t move and her eyes stay focused right in the area of the ball. This is the most important area in hitting.
- We watch that ball come in, but the last few feet are where every contact happens in baseball and softball. So we want to make sure that we train our players to keep the head still in that area.
For more great hitting drills, be sure to check out my Softball Drills and Practice Plans series, complete with video demonstrations! And don’t forget to Become a Fan on Facebook, where I will share more great hitting drills, tips and ideas!