Softball Hitting Tips: Brick Dust University.
Hitting is one of the most difficult aspects of softball, but also one the most essential. When you’re not hitting well, you might lose confidence in yourself. Instead of staying mired in a fog of low self-esteem, make a plan for improvement.
Here you’ll find tips for increasing bat speed, hitting for power, and developing mental toughness. We’ve also included a few drills to help you work on your swing.
Softball Hitting Tips for Bat Speed
It’s no secret that increased bat speed will lead to a better swing. Isn’t that what your coach is always saying?
With a quick, short swing you can generate more power than with a long, heavy swing. But how can you learn to shorten your swing? Here are a few tips and drills to help increase your bat speed.
Adjust Your Stance - A good way to shorten your swing is by adjusting your stance. If you have a closed stance, with your back foot further away from the plate than your front foot, your bat will be further away from the ball when it crosses the plate.
This will slow your swing down. Unless you have really quick hands, stick with a square stance, with both feet equidistant from the plate.
Quick Hands - Another crucial aspect of short bat speed is having quick hands. Start with your bottom hand positioned on the top of the strike zone, directly across from your armpit.
Also, keep your elbows down. When your elbows are up too high, it increases the time it takes for you to make contact with the ball. As you start your swing, bring your elbow straight through the pitch.
Keep Your Hands Close - In addition, your hands should stay in front of the barrel of the bat for as long as possible. Dropping your hands or casting away from your body will slow your swing down. For a breakdown of each part of the swing, check out this resource from the Softball Spot.
Improve Bat Speed with the Knob Punch Drill - To make your hands faster, you can try the Knob Punch drill, found here. For this drill, set up a tee on the edge of the batter’s box, in front of your front foot. Make the tee taller, so it’s just below the level of your hands. Your goal is to hit the ball off the tee with the knob of the bat. If done properly, this drill will teach you how to move your hands through the ball, while keeping them in front of the barrel.
Tips for Hitting with Power
Just like for increasing bat speed, there’s no secret or quick tips for developing a powerful swing. In fact, hitting for speed and hitting for power are closely related. You need to accelerate your swing in order to have more power. What else can you do to generate a powerful swing? Here are some tips and drills.
Balanced Stance - One of the most important things to focus on for a powerful swing is your weight distribution. Your power will come from your legs and your core, not solely from your arms. You should have a comfortable, balanced, stance with your weight evenly distributed between both legs.
Shift Your Weight - Once the pitcher starts her wind up, you should shift your weight to your back leg. Then, when her front foot comes down, shift your weight to your front foot as well. Keep your hands in close to your body and stay balanced – this is from where you’ll derive more power. For a breakdown of weight distribution, see this video of Jennie Finch for Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Adjust Your Grip - Another aspect to keep in mind is your grip. Just like your stance, your grip should be comfortable. Your knuckles on both hands should be lined up straight.
Then, as you swing, keep your hands in front of the barrel, close to your body. Keeping your hands in tight and your head down will also help you generate more power.
Do the Don’t Squish the Bug Drill to Hit for Power - For a good drill to practice correct weight transfer, try the Don’t Squish the Bug Drill from the Hitting Vault.
In this drill, place a bucket behind your back leg and hit from a tee.
The bucket behind your foot keeps you from incorrectly shifting your weight and “squishing the bug.” If done properly, your back foot should be moved away from the bucket and your hips rotated so your back is to the catcher.
Tips for Softball Hitting Mental Mindset
The mental component of hitting is just as important as mechanics. You may have a perfect swing, but you won’t get any hits if you psych yourself out at the plate. Here are some tips for developing mental toughness in the batter’s box.
Plan Your Way Out of a Slump - You can easily lose confidence in yourself if you have a bad at-bat or fall into a slump. It’s important to trust your abilities and not let yourself be overcome mentally by being in a slump. Sometimes, mental or physical fatigue may be the problem and all you need is a little time away from practice to recharge.
Focusing on other aspects of your game, like fielding and baserunning, is a great way to work your way out of a hitting slump as well.
Practice Patience - As a hitter, you must also have patience. Not only patience in yourself and your skills but also patience for the right pitch and the right moment to swing.
With your nerves, sometimes you might want to swing too early. Be patient, rely on your fundamentals, and wait for the right pitch.
Establish a Mental Routine - Another way to build mental toughness is through a routine. This could be stopping to take a deep breath before stepping into the batter’s box, visualizing yourself getting a base hit, or repeating a positive phrase to yourself.
It doesn’t matter how you choose to center yourself, as long as you find a way to mentally prepare for batting and stick with it.
Know Your Goal at the Plate - To have the right mental mindset, you also need a plan. This involves scoping out the other team’s pitchers and players to see where their weaknesses are.
It also means knowing how to approach each pitch that could be thrown – rise ball, curveball, drop ball, screwball, and changeup.
Having a plan, along with reading the defensive situation when you come up to bat, will help you concentrate.
For more great tips on mental toughness at the plate, check out this blog post.
By nailing the fundamentals of your swing – and with a ton of practice – you can become an elite hitter. It takes time, dedication, and hard work. If you’re willing to commit, then you’ll have results.
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