Softball Hitting Tips: Are You Forgetting to Practice This?
As you can see from the comments on my previous post about softball hitting practice, most teams practice hitting quite often. However, you may be surprised to find out there may be a couple important things you’re leaving out.
1. Hit and Run – Getting Out of the Box
In a game, what do you have to do after you hit the ball? That’s right, RUN! Yet, how many of your swing in practice are followed by a run down the line to first base? If you’re team gets a lot of reps in station drills or in the batting cage, then chances are they may very rarely actually hit then run in practice. Maybe you NEVER actually run down the line to first after a hit in practice, yet this is a very important aspect of the hitting process! Obviously you have a better chance at being safe at first if you get out of the box as quickly as possible, but if you never practice it, how are you going to get better at it? How many times have you seen players, especially younger ones, hit the ball, then “forget” to run right away? This is not something that comes “automatically” to every player. It needs to be practiced like anything else. Make sure you practice running after a hit or swing.
2. Getting into the box
Another things that’s often overlooked is getting into the box. There are things that a batter must do and should do before getting into the box to hit. One, of course, is to look at the base coach for a signal (again, how many times have you seen players skip this step?). Another thing players should be doing is going through their own little routine when getting into the box. Just as basketball players often have a set “approach” before the shoot a free throw shot, softball hitters should have their own little routine when getting into the box. They should do they same thing each time. This is a big part of being in the right frame of mind and having a good mental approach to the at bat.
Routines are what make us feel comfortable, confident, and in control – the 3 C’s you really want when going into any at bat. Getting into the box the same way, a way that makes you feel comfortable and in control, each time helps promote the right mental approach to an at bat. Again, an important part of hitting, but how often is this practiced??? There’s a good chance you never practice this part of your hitting outside a game situation. But how can you expect to be solid in every part of your hitting when you leave out such important portions of it in your practice time? Set aside some time to practice at bats all the way through from beginning to end. One of the best ways to do this is with visualization drills. No equipment needed except, you, your bat, and your mind.
3. Taking Leads
I realize this isn’t a hitting skill, but it does come right after a hit if you get on base and it is still an “offensive” skill if not a hitting one. But taking leads is also overlooked quite often, especially at the older age levels where most players already know how to do it. Unfortunately, many don’t do it well. You’ve probably seen players take leads a couple different ways: straddling the bag (rocker) or back foot on the bag. EITHER WAY – this skill must be practiced. The biggest mistakes I see players make are: not taking strong leads, not taking leads the same way all the time, and probably the most annoying for me to see…not timing leads properly which can most definitely mean the difference between an out and safe call!
So, when you put together your plan to practice hitting or offensive skills, please remember these. Improving these areas can make an immediate positive impact on your game!