Softball hitting tips you need to know
If you do not have the essential fundamentals nailed down, hitting a softball is not the easiest of tasks. Coaches know that without this, a player cannot be successful in his or her performance.
If you are a softball player, especially a beginner, and want to know more about the hitting fundamentals, take your softball gear and accompany us on this journey to find out about several tips.
The correct grip
When you are gripping the bat, pressure must be applied with the fingers and not the palms, where the calluses are. The bottom hand controls the bat, while the top one supports it loosely. Gripping the softball bat is similar to holding a golf club, or a hammer.
Another important aspect is the position. The hand on top is placed against the bottom one with the middle knuckles of both your hands, in a straight line. Moreover, the arms are not joined, and the wrists need to have some flexibility.
Some players prefer to curl the index finger of the hand from the top, only lightly touching the bat. For increased control, the player can choke up on the bat, moving both hands a few inches up from the knob. This is called a choke grip, and it means a shorter bat and also less power.
The hands should be placed three or four inches in front of the chest and also between the shoulders. Both your elbows are down, and there should be no tension in the shoulder area.
You might have noticed players who move a little back and forth with the hands and shoulders — they do this to keep them loose. The position is called the power position, or the power alley.
The hitter must position in the center of the batter’s box, so he or she can swing at pitches throughout the strike zone. The feet of the batter should be placed parallel to the direction to which the home plate is pointing. The feet should be almost shoulder-width apart.
Bending the knees slightly, the player must keep his or her weight distributed evenly on the balls of the feet. Then, the hands move 5 to 7 inches away from the body, even using the shoulders.
The next move is pointing the bat upward and angling toward the body slightly, then turning the head toward the pitches, focusing on the upcoming ball.
This is a preparatory movement as the pitcher is going towards the release, and consists of moving the front foot in order to build momentum into the pitch. It should not be more than eight inches.
The hands are moving together with the hips and shoulders. Right after the stride, the hitter’s top hand turns slowly so that it gets closer to the pitcher than the bottom one. Just after the pitcher releases the ball, the preparatory movement should be finished.
The swing is also an important movement in this activity. It begins with the legs and hips. As the softball approaches the plate, the hitter pushes off the ball of the rear foot. The back knee starts moving in, and the hips begin rotating but remain parallel to the ground.
During all these movements, it is essential that the eyes and the head remain still and level. Once the knob of the bat is moved towards the ball, the hitter doesn’t allow the bat head to get below the hands. The leading arm should maintain an angle of 90 degrees. Approaching the ball using this method ensures a shorter arc and a compact swing.
In order to get the maximum blow when hitting the ball, the contact point for a pitch down the middle is right opposite the front hip. For an inside pitch, the batter must move the back elbow into the body in order to get the hands out sooner, and the hips to open faster.
The contact spot for an outside pitch is between the back hip and the center of the body. Therefore, the batter must wait on the ball. In this situation, the hips remain closed until contact, and only then the back hip drives through.
When speaking about the contact, you should know that both arms need to be bent at 90 degrees, and the bat hits the ball on a level plane. Both hands are fully extended after the ball has left the bat.
To be more precise, the thumb and the forefinger on the top hand are on the bat, and the V shape between them points straight to the contact spot. Once the arms are fully extended, deceleration appears, and the bat starts losing speed.
This action is similar to a boxer driving his backhand and body into the opponent. Thanks to the pivot, the back knee and foot are pointing at the front leg. A big part of the weight is shifted to the inside of the front leg and foot. Then, the body comes back into a balanced position.
Once the contact is completed, the hitter needs to focus on hitting through the ball. The bat still moves in the ball’s direction. The hitter’s weight shifts onto the front leg, which helps achieve a long, full follow-through and a faster time to first base.
Once both these movements are finished, the weight of the hitter is balanced between both feet and the ear, back shoulder, hip and also back knee are in line with one another.
If you are a beginner in this sport, all of this might sound complicated. In time, if you practice, you will learn to master all these elements. And since we are on this topic, you might need to add some softball socks or a new softball bag to your softball equipment. In case you want to know more about softball bats, you might want to read our article on this topic.