One of my favorite movie characters by far is Buford T. Justice. Despite my old age I still vividly recall a scene where this crusty old sheriff stopped only momentarily to confront a group of boys in the middle of nowhere as they were clearly trying to steal a car. Well sort of. You see he didn't have time to actually arrest them since he was in “hot pursuit” so he had them place their hands on the car and then told them to watch the car until one of his fellow officers arrived because there might be vandals out there who would want to harm the car. You probably didn't see the movie but I'll just bet you can imagine what the boys were thinking as this sheriff walked back towards his car. Then old Buford T. Justice turned back to them and uttered one of the funniest lines in history without cracking as much as a grin … “Don't go home. Don't go to eat …. Oh you can think about it. But DON'T do it.”
No I haven't lost the other half of my mind. There is a absolutely a purpose to why I said Buford T. Justice said that line best as I will be using it later in the article and it's important that you have a point of reference for the intensity with which I want you to perceive the line.
If you did the work I asked you to do last month I'm sure by now you have completely dominated the art of diving for a ball that is in front of you. This month we are going to kick it up a notch and work on diving for balls that are, “gulp”, at your side instead of right in front of you. The “gulp” of course is my dramatic way of drawing attention to what you might already be thinking “How in the world can I dive for a ball at my side without injuring my shoulder?” Sometimes in life there are silly fears, but this isn't one of them this is a legitimate fear. So much so that we will start very slowly. Get your glove and a ball and then kneel down. Hold the ball in your throwing hand and separate it from your glove hand. On your knees try to lean forward almost to the point you will fall over with your glove facing up. Now imagine that the ball was hit right in front of you, continue leaning and sort of dive forward and bring your hands together for the catch. Remember (or go back and read last months article) that the key is always, always, always to continue extending your arms.
Now sit back up and I'm going to have you try again but just slightly differently. This time imagine that the ball is hit about 1 foot to your glove hand side instead of being exactly in front of you. Make the diving catch and continue extending. Sit up and try again, only imagine it was hit about 1 more foot towards your glove hand side. Make the diving catch and continue extending. Continue doing this until you imagine the ball being hit almost directly at your side. As you do this you are going to notice one thing about yourself that you hadn't before. Your brain is actually very intelligent when it comes to learning something new like this. Because while you didn't have to think about consciously your sub conscious brain told your hips to pivot before diving for the ball. So while the ball started going to your side, your brain simply adjusted your body towards the balls location and you actually dove straight out. Just happened to be straight out to your side.
Now sit back up and lets imagine, not do, just imagine, a hit to the side of your body you throw from or what we call your “backhand” side. This is a bit different and does cause us to think. Until now we have been making these sure two handed catches while diving. But if your glove is turned over to make the catch so that you are looking at the back of your hand it's kind of odd to put your throwing hand on top of the ball for a two handed catch. Go ahead and see how that feels by holding the ball in your glove like you've made a back handed catch and see how it feels to try and cover it up. Silly right. Nobody does that. And so now we are left in a bit of a pickle. What do you do with your throwing hand when you dive?
Oh you're going to want to put it on the ground to brace yourself. You're going to want to put it on the ground because you don't know what else to do with it. But listen closely . . . . “Oh you can think about putting that hand down, but DON'T do it.” You didn't see that one coming did you? Seriously with the strongest look I can give you don't dive and put that hand straight down, you do not want all of the energy that your body takes into the ground coming right back through that one hand/arm/shoulder.
You have to drive that arm forward just as though you were simply diving on the bases. Simply one in which you use your other arm to make a great back handed catch at the same time. Talented little thing aren't you.
I'm so serious about wanting you to do this correctly that I'd like you to watch the video first before you proceed with trying a backhanded dive. Watch Savannah and Graham demonstrate it as many times as you need in order to see that you can in fact make the catch while extending your throwing hand. After you think you have it simply prop your !Pad up with something so that you can watch them and try the backhanded dive yourself. Remember as you are trying always start as low as you possibly can, and start already extended. Practice in a way that gives you the confidence to take it to the next level and start up in the air. Before next month you should be totally rocking both forward and side dives from your knees and in the air already leaning as far as you can.
Who knows if Savannah and Graham are up for it next month they just might demonstrate diving for the ball at a full run forwards, side ways and back ways. Oh you can think about not working hard this month, but don't do it.
Dalton Ruer: Coach Ruer has been using softball to encourage and motivate athletes for 15 years. Throughout the year he is a private softball instructor to many college bound athletes in Georgia. He facilitates team based clinics and instructs at many elite and college recruiting softball camps. His specialties are helping players verbalize their dreams and establish a plan to achieve them and helping players overcome the fears that are holding them back from being exceptional athletes. He has produced 6 instructional DVD’s covering all aspects of how to win the short game and how to dive for the ball. Keep up with Coach Dalton by visiting his blog and resource site at CrossTrainingSoftball.com. Join Dalton On: Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, YouTube
Have A Question or Some Feedback? Click and send me a voice message.
This content is provided with a Creative Commons Share-Alike License. Feel free to use this content, so long as you give credit to Gary Leland, of Fastpitch.TV and link to www.Fastpitch.TV