I hope you are sitting down as you read this. Because I’m going to ask you a brain teaser and I don’t want you to get dizzy thinking to hard and fall over. Are you ready?
When can you GET DIRTY without actually GETTING DIRTY?
Most of my articles to this point have involved the physical kind of dirt. But I submit that when you “roll up your sleeves” so to speak, you get over your fears and sacrifice yourself for the benefit of the team you have in deed “gotten dirty” regardless of how much physical soil/grass may be on your uniform.
A perfect example of this would someone laying down a sacrifice bunt while your teammate gets to score the winning run. It’s not really glamorous and lowers your batting average. But if you like winning then more often than not then this skill is crucial.
Yet week in and week out I watch games at all levels that are lost because players on one side or the other are in a situation of being able to win the game if they can bunt and yet the players can’t do it. CAN’T DO IT!
While I talk about bunting for hours with my students, and as you watch the videos you’ll see I’m at no loss of words regarding bunting. Yet I want to start the series by really keeping things very simple … At the end of the day bunting merely involves two things:
Physically it involves holding your bat out in front of the pitch so that the pitch hits the bat. That’s it.
Mentally it involves your willingness to sacrifice your chance for a home run for the betterment of the team. That’s it.
You aren’t trying to time anything.
You aren’t trying to hit it over the heads of lightening fast girls.
You simply have to let the ball travel to you and hit your bat.
But I don’t want to!
So why does such a straight forward combination of skills go so horribly, horribly wrong in games at every level? That wasn’t a rhetorical question if you can tell me why girls at every level of this game so consistently fail to execute this skill I would love for you to email me. Because for the life of me I just can’t figure it out.
If you are reading and you don’t have the answer to the question either then I hope you’ll join me in championing this much needed but so dramatically under practiced and under appreciated skill. Please watch the videos, practice the drills yourself and share them with your teams and the rest of the softball world.
As you watch the drills consider the fact that you can easily practice any of them in the comfort of your own living room. Simply have mom/dad toss some rolled up socks at you instead of a ball. You don’t even have to give up your favorite television shows because you can simply do the drills during the commercials. Can it be any easier than that?
As you progress, consider modifying the drills slightly to make them tougher and yet more fun? I know what you are thinking “what could be more fun or tougher than the drills I teach?” Fair question. Several of my drills this first week involve trying to catch the ball on the bat instead of poking the ball. The concept is that if you catch as you would a hot potato the ball will fall right into the bucket below you. Instead of using a bucket consider using a bowl and instead of a ball consider having them toss your favorite snack or M&M’s at you. If you do the drill correctly your favorite snack drops right into your bowl and you have a snack afterwards to celebrate your ability. Of course to simulate game conditions your heart will be broken when you throw away all of the snacks that missed the bowl and are now on the floor. You get to eat the ones that fall into the bowl, and like a game your heart is broken when you throw away those that hit the floor. If you are able to practice with teammates add some competition to the drills. 10 pitches to each other at a time and the first to 50 perfect bunts into the bucket wins.
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
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