4 Pillars of the Softball Swing
Before beginning any lesson or talk about hitting, I start with a line of questioning.
What do you want to do the ball? Where do you want to hit the ball? Is it on the ground or in the air? How many singles does it take to score a run? How many doubles? How many homeruns? What’s the purpose of offense? Which options between singles, doubles, and homeruns give us the most amount of runs in the least amount of hits? Have you ever played pool? Have you ever jumped a ball? What do you have to do to jump the ball? We’re going to achieve the same effect with a bigger ball and bigger weapon.
In this article, you will find the 4 pillars of the swing that I believe need to be in place in order to attain an efficient swing.
4 Pillars of the Swing
1. BALANCE & POSTURE
Before you salt and pepper your food, you taste it. Before you start any drill work, you should test the foundation. That foundation being balance and posture.
Is he/she in an athletic stance? Are the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and core engaged? Does he or she have their chest over their feet? Does he or she break posture before or during the swing? Does he or she stay in their legs or spring out of them?
Now, you don’t have to ask these questions aloud. As a coach, you’re doing an inventory of the body to make sure things are in their proper place. Why is this important?
Posture effects the angle at which you strike the ball. A break in posture puts the body in a weak position to strike the ball well. Balance enables you to strike the ball with the force of your entire body.
2. ENERGY/WEIGHT TRANSFER
To maximize power and force, you need to store and transfer energy. Your belly button is a good indicator of how much weight your transferring. When you transfer weight, you want to keep the weight to the inside part of your back leg. An overload can result in spinning or springing effect.
3. SEQUENCE OF THE SWING
The sequence of the swing are the checkpoints of the swing that some hitting coaches refer to when breaking down the swing. Some coaches may have variations of terminology. Forgive me if I haven’t listed your sequence terms.
- Load, Toe touch, Foot down
- Heel Plant, slide
- Contact, palm up palm down
Honestly, I used to focus on sequence too much. After a season, I found it to be too complicated. My players couldn’t feel what checkpoint they were at 80% of the time. Their swings became robotic. Now, the only parts of the sequence I focus on are getting the foot down and extension.
Here’s a tip: Extension should always happen below the shoulders.
4. SWING PATH
This is my favorite topic because it’s so simple it’s silly. You want to teach your players to be short to the ball, right?
But coach, I already do that. Do you?
There is a significant difference between getting long and short to the ball. Beware of the staying on plane talk. This is what gets most players in trouble and long to ball. On earth, gravity pulls weight to center of the earth. Where is the weight on the bat? Answer: At the end or at the barrel. If the barrel drops right away, the swing is long which can result in swing and misses, toppers, or pops ups. There are some hitters that are exceptions to this rule but they are few in number.
Have you ever played or watched tennis? How do they swing the racket? Down to up. What kind of spin does tennis swing put on the ball? Top spin. Why? Because they’re trying to keep the ball in the court.
In softball or baseball, the swing is up to down because we’re trying to hit the ball out of the park. We are trying to create backspin. Think back to the concept of jumping a ball in pool. What kind of spin does the ball have when you jump a ball? Correct, backspin. How do you angle the stick?
To make a long swing short, I tell my players to stay short and chop down on the ball. It’s simple and believe it or not, on film the hitter gets to a palm up and palm down position. You will see more line drives, doubles and homeruns. And unfortunately, you will see your hitters pop up on occasion.
I hope that this information has been useful to you and your players. If you have feedback or questions, I’d love to hear from you.
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