Hitting 101- 7 step plan (fastpitch) April 12, 2020 Edition #4
By: Coach Roth
In this post I'm going to go through a 7 step plan for hitting success. Use it as your guide to help you with getting the most out of your softball swing. Always work quality over quantity. Pay close attention to the details of the plan. I'll go through step by step using a batting cage session from a couple years ago by a very diligent and talented young lady. Her name is Zoe. I want to thank Zoe for graciously offering her batting cage session for us. Thank you Zoe!
Everyone has a slightly different swing. And that's OK. I don’t want to see a bunch of Robots out there. I’m just going to breakdown the swing sequence to give you some pointers on how to be most efficient. Use this 7 step plan as your pilot for success. There is no better time than right now. Develop, and work on, your own 7 step plan for a great softball swing. Then, let the softballs fly where they may!
Step 1) Swing preparation
Swing preparation is the first step in a quality at bat. Watch the video below to get some great pointers:
Adding to this is- Learn how to relax your muscles. A relaxed muscle will allow you to make a good quality swing. Take some good breathes to get oxygen to your brain. This will help relax your muscles and give you sharper focus to see the oncoming pitch.
Step2) Balanced Setup
Starting our batting cage session- Zoe is doing a great job of getting balance with her initial setup. Red line is center of balance. Yellow lines are her knees. Notice knees are inside of her feet and in good position to start. Her eyes are focused and getting ready for the pitch to come. Best eye focus here is a soft focus where you can see pitcher and some surroundings to still be aware of runners on base or defense shifts.
Step 3) Gather or Load
Here Zoe does a pretty good job of getting her load. This move is done as the pitch is being delivered. Her posture is good (purple lines) with about a 25 to 30 degree spine angle. She has gathered herself back well with a back knee bend (yellow lines). Her eye focus should now be a hard focus where she has spotted the ball and is able to see seams and ball rotation. The only fix I would recommend here- Bring back elbow up and back to match the orange line. This will help create coil for the swing. The shift allows the hands to line up directly above the back foot as shown from red line to blue line. This helps with getting a greater coil to help with timing the pitch. Watch- Hitting Tip in video below for greater detail-
Step 4) Swing starts quick to the Zone
For the start of the swing we want to be quick to the Zone where the ball is arriving. Swing starts from the ground up with heal plant by front foot and a push away from the inside ball of the back foot (pink lines). Hips start to turn and then hands curve in (green arrow). Hands need to curve with the rotation of a proper swing. If hands are pushed straight to the ball, the bat head will not get to the zone quickly. Zoe does a good job here but does come off center a bit with her swing. Just a slight adjustment needed.
Step 5) Contact- Houston we have lift off
Zoe has a good base with slight knee bend on front side leg. Her shoulders have good tilt (white line) to adjust to pitch location. For instance- Less tilt is needed to adjust for higher pitches. She was slightly under the ball here and fouled it back. Couple reasons for this. It's usually just a small adjustments that make the difference between a foul back and a pure crush of the ball. First thing, as in the frame before, Zoe is a little back of center start which can cause a small dip under the ball. Also, back elbow is good but front elbow should work up to green line position. A good gauge for proper front elbow position would be her mouth lining up with the front elbow (orange dashed line). This helps keep hands from separating early away from body. Again, a reason for getting under the pitch slightly. Both of these are easily corrected with quality practice off the tee.
Step 6) Long thru the Zone
Zoe has a very good swing to stay long thru the Zone. Here she is at good balance (red line). Eyes about in direct line above front knee. Her arms extend out (green lines) nicely. That allows her bat to stay in the Zone for the longest possible time. As you may be able to see, the ball is fouled straight back. Just a couple little flaws on the frame before was probable cause for this. Overall, her swing thru the zone was very good.
Step 7) Follow up, Follow thru
Zoe has really good follow thru here. Her balance is in good position (red line). Her posture (purple line) is still in good spine angle. She has kept her tilt (white line) for the most part. Keeping tilt and posture is good for not pulling off the ball too soon. One really awesome part of this swing is- notice where her eye focus is (eyes looking down pink line). She is doing a fantastic job of keeping her eyes on contact point. This keeps her eyes from moving off the ball at contact.
This batting cage session was from 2 years ago and Zoe has made some good adjustments. Her swing, as of the start of this season, is top notch. I'm really proud of her and the strides she has made. Keep working hard Zoe! Thanks again for allowing me to break down your batting session. Hope this will help our team and whomever takes a good look at this.
Be Well and Play Ball!