So you have been asked to play for your company in a charity softball game... If your company wins you will get to give $5,000.00 to the charity that you and your company choose... The only problem is, you have never touched a bat in your life, let alone know how to use one... This can be your guide to successfully learn how to hit a softball and to provide for your charity!
As having played the wonderful game of Softball for over half of my life now, these are my instructions of how I found to successfully hit the ball!
Step 1: The Mental Side
One of the most important things needed to successfully hit a softball is the hitters mentality.
A hitter must go up to the batter box with the mentality that he or she will hit the ball.
This takes time and preparation, and should be worked on everyday.
A hitter needs to develop the mentality of being able to say, "One Pitch at a Time".
Softball is a game of failure, and the hitter needs to be aware that they will not be perfect 100% of the time.
Things to say to yourself as a hitter...
- I can
- I will
**Basically don't say things in a negative light... Instead of saying "don't dip" or "don't pull your head", rephrase it, "say keep my shoulder up" or "keep your head on the ball"...**
Step 2: Materials
A big step that people often skip is figuring out if your bat is the right length and weight.
The length of your bat should allow you to reach the opposite side of the plate from where you stand in the box, without having to really try to over reach. With that being said the bat should not be in the other batters box either.
For the weight of your bat, you should be able to hold your bat straight out with one arm and successfully hold it for at least 30 seconds without having to break or shake. Your bat should not hinder your swing by slowing it down because of the weight. With that being said you don't want your bat to be too light that you are a head on every pitch.
The length and weight or your bat should be accustomed to you and what you will be able to successfully swing to give you the best results.
Type of bat ...
If you are going to be playing competitive softball such as fast-pitch, you need to invest in a "Composite bat". Metal bats are not going to be able to handle the speed and power of the pitch, without hurting your hands and or arms.
Type of Cleats...
As a young girl grows up one of the things she looks forward to playing softball is, making the switch to metal cleats! If you are old enough, wearing them while playing is highly recommended. The benefits of metal cleats are... grip, and traction, which overall results in speed. Metal cleats don't slip as easy, unlike molded cleats. However, metal cleats are a little more dangerous. Be careful when sliding into bases, metal cleats are a lot more painful to be cleated with.
Step 3: The Set Up
This is the next most important thing needed in order to be a successful hitter.
Not everyone is going to have the same stance, or hold the bat exactly the same way. The most important thing about your stance is to make sure that the hitter is comfortable and that it works for them and the restrictions of their bodies.
Understanding, the hitter and how their body functions is very important due to the fact that some may be able to have a "longer" swing and some may have a better success rate with a "shorter" swing.
The general rules of thumb for a stance consist of ...
- feet spread apart, at least shoulder width.
- a slight bend in the knees. You cannot have completely locked out knees.
- a relaxed grip on the bat, no white knuckling or death grips.
- head in a position that both eyes can see the pitcher.
Step 4: Decision Time
This is another important step that often does not get a lot of recognition.
Before you can actually swing the bat and hit the ball, you need to make up your mind to do so.
Hitting in my opinion is 60% mental and 40% physical.
In order to have a greater chance of having solid contact with the ball you need to make your decision to swing right after the pitch has been released.
The decision should either be yes I'm swinging or no this is not a strike.
What should happen while making the decision...
- Your brain should process the pitch has been released
- Your brain should then process a ball or a strike
- After you establish the pitch you need to trigger in your head to start your swing if it was a strike
*All of these things should happen simultaneously and in reality happen within a second*
Step 5: The Swing
Now you are at the part of your actual swing...
This is something that should naturally occur, and it should be one fluid motion.
Once you make your decision to swing at the pitch thrown, you need to bring your hands straight to the point of contact, where the bat will meet the ball.
To have the best results you need to make sure you take the most efficient route to the ball. In other words, do not drop your back shoulder to try to lift the ball. As well as keep your front should in on the finish.
The best analogy that I can provide is....
-What is going to be a fast route?
- A to C
- A to B to C
If you chose choice one, you are correct... the fastest route is always going to be the straightest route. Therefore, throw your hands to the ball taking the straightest route.
Now that we have discussed your hands you need to incorporate your hips and lower half.
As you take your hands to the ball your hips and legs need to go as well.
Think about driving your hips through a wall... the amount force that you would use to really make an impact should be used in your swing. This will create power. Your hips and legs provide all of the power in your swing.
To elaborate on your swing having to be one fluid motion, this means your legs and hands are going to move at the same time in unison. To make sure that you get enough power to the ball you need to make sure that your bat stays behind the ball.
Your bat staying behind the ball means that you cannot top the ball (bat making contact with the top part of the ball), or get under the ball (your bat making contact with the bottom part part of the ball). Your bat must make solid contact with the center part of the ball. Staying behind the ball comes into play when you make contact with the middle of the ball and drive your hands through the ball. Meaning you do not pull your bat off of the ball after contact, you must finish through the ball.
Step 6: The Finish
The finish part of your swing is another part that you have to find what is most comfortable for you.
After you finish through the ball it is really all up to you how your swing ends.
You can finish with one hand on the bat, two hands on the bat, as long as you don't completely let go of the bat... : )
However, it is more common and more natural to have a higher finish over your shoulder as opposed to someone finishing their swing low.
After this piece of the puzzle, you are all set to successfully hit a softball. Remember everyone is different and different things work for different people. Everyone's swing has unique qualities to them and you must find what works best for you. These were just some general tips and what I found worked for me and what I did to be successful!
Keep Calm and Bat On!