If you’re training for softball, you should be swinging a bat several times a day. Repetition and drill work to hone your form is critical. You need to get to the point where you trust your swing. Come game time, if you’re thinking about the mechanics of swinging instead of the pitched ball, you’ll never hear the smack of a ball against your bat. Shuffle between hitting a ball off a tee and practicing your swings with a live pitcher.
Improving Swing Speed and Form
To master a complex skill such as swinging a bat, you need to practice the movements until they become an unconscious reflex. By swinging the bat as many times as you can within 60 seconds, you can build muscle memory. Have a partner time you and count the swings so you can focus only on maintaining your form. Place a barrier, such as net, the length of one bat in front of you. Assume batting stance and take a swing. If your bat smacks the barrier, then you’re flexing your elbows before your shoulder and swinging wide. Reverse the position of the barrier, placing it the length of one bat behind you. If you swing the bat and hit the rear barrier, you’re dropping your hands.
Honing Balance While Swinging
In the same way that a gymnast’s balance is challenged when using a balance beam, you can build a similar piece of equipment for batting practice. Practicing your swings while standing on a balance beam can be a little scary at first. Most players hate this exercise when they start doing it, but it will build your core stability on your swings. Nail together enough two-by-four planks into a 4-foot-long main beam. Create two 18-inch-long cross pieces. Nail one cross piece about 16 inches from one end of the beam. Nail the second cross piece 16 inches from the beam’s other end. Get into batting stance on the beam. Shift your weight to the balls of your feet to maintain balance. Have a partner throw a soft toss. Try and take your first step directly toward the pitcher, staying on the beam throughout your swing. Perform at least 10 swings without falling off the beam.
Hitting Off a Tee
Hitting a ball off a tee is an effective way to work on your swinging technique. Because the ball isn’t moving, you don’t have to adjust your swing. You can focus on footwork, hip turn and body position when the bat and ball make contact. Place a batting tee about 10 feet from a hanging net. Assume a stance in which your lead foot is opposite the tee’s post and the net is within the batted ball’s line of flight. Adjust the distance between yourself and the post so the middle of the bat’s barrel will pass over the tee. Set a bucket of 10 softballs beside you. Place a ball on the tee and hit the ball into the net. Repeat the exercise for all 10 balls.
Engaging in Target Practice
To improve the accuracy of your hits, do a target practice drill. Mark three lines on a net in which the first line is 2 feet above the ground. Designate this area for ground balls. Add a second line 4 feet from the ground, which is the line drive area. A third line should be marked at 8 feet and is the fly ball area. Use the same sequence of movements as you did for hitting the ball from the tee. Hit 10 balls into the ground ball area, using a high-low swing path. Hit another 10 into the line drive area and employ a horizontal swing path. Use a low-to-high swing path to hit 10 balls into the fly ball area. Keep a record of successful hits. Boost the difficulty by varying the target in a random way for each swing.
- Softball: Steps to Success; Diane L. Potter, et al.
- The Softball Drill Book; Kirk Walker
- BodyBuilding.com: Hitting Tips & Drills for Softball
- Softball -- Handbook/Guide for Parents & Coaches: The Illustrated Art of…; Bob Swope
- Softball Skills and Drills; Judi Garman, et al.
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