WHO IS DREAMING OF A STATE CHAMPIONSHIP, NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP OR WOMEN'S COLLEGE WORLD SERIES TITLE?
Most everyone who plays Fastpitch competitively has aspirations of playing until Championship Day. As hitters, what can we do to help our team reach that coveted day? Two simple hitting concepts can help your team prepare to bring home the big trophy:
The ability to make a decision quickly, without second-guessing, allows a hitter to truly trust her swing. By late in the season, hitters should have accumulated thousands of practice reps through previous months of off-season training and in-season practices and games. Once we have done the work, we must release our talent and preparation to work for us. Enjoy it!
When choosing whether to swing or not swing at a pitch, it is better for hitters to make the wrong decision decisively than to make an indecisive decision. One more time: it is better to make the wrong decision decisively than to make an indecisive decision.
Basically, if a hitter chooses to swing, she should “get her money's worth.” Once she pulls the trigger, she must swing as though she believes in it with everything in her, even if mid-swing she realizes the pitch was not one she really wanted to hit. Too bad! Be a convincing actress and swing as though it is the best pitch ever. We are more likely to hit the ball hard, if we actually swing hard through it. Check swings are not allowed. Swing or do not swing; there should be no in between!
We do want to swing confidently and decisively. If at all possible, however, we do not want to swing at bad pitches. Bad pitches make us look bad. Swinging at bad pitches can make the best of hitters look utterly ridiculous. In addition, bad pitches are far less likely to yield good results.
A good hitter should never give away an at-bat because she is not disciplined enough to find a good pitch to hit. Swinging at a pitcher's “junk pitches,” makes her job way too easy. Junk pitches are those pitches that are so far outside the zone that they are impossible to hit hard and fair. If a hitter cranks a super-inside pitch hard into foul territory, although an impressive display of power, it is still a long strike. I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but foul balls (even really hard ones) do not get us on base.
Learning to hit good pitches starts with a clear understanding of the strike zone (knees to armpits over home plate), and some serious hours of practice. Hitters must see thousands and thousands of pitches to develop the ability to read and react to pitch locations.
To encourage decisive decisions and prepare hitters to select good pitches, try the following drills.
“Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES”/”Yes, yes, yes, yes, NO” During batt ing practice, hitters begin to say “yes, yes, yes, yes, yes” out loud as the pitcher begins her windup or before the ball is dropped in to the pitching machine. Once the ball travels to her ideal contact point, she yells “YES” for a strike and “NO” for a ball. Begin this drill by simply taking pitches, as hitters work on timing and tracking. Then, begin to incorporate swings. As the ball travels toward the hitting zone, the player says out loud “yes, yes, yes, yes YES” and swings or “yes, yes, yes, yes, NO” and takes the pitch. As hitters, we should always be prepared to swing and develop the discipline to stop, when necessary. If we are not prepared to swing, a strong, decisive cut is not possible.
Location, Location, Location For this drill, hitters are only allowed to swing at a certain pitch location (out, in, high or low). The player is assigned her location before the round begins. If the player is assigned outside pitches, she must hit all strikes on the outside half of the plate and take all other pitches, even if the other pitches are strikes. This is a great way to build confidence on locations that tend to be weaknesses for a hitter. Follow these rounds with at least one round that mixes locations and allows the hitter to swing at anything in the zone. The goal is to recognize pitch locations, and hit the ball where it is pitched. “Hitting it where it is pitched” for right handed hitters means hitting an inside pitch to the left side of the field, an outside pitch to the right side of the field and a pitch down the middle, back up the middle. The opposite is true for lefties.
Extreme Tee Simply use a tee to practice extreme pitch locations, pitches that are technically out of the zone (out, in, high and low). Hitters must be sure to stand wherever they typically stand in relation to home plate. It helps to have a separate home plate and tee to keep locations set up properly. To set up the drill:
– Middle-Ball should be in the middle of home plate and a little in front of the hitter's front foot. The hitter should be able to hit the ball up the middle.
– Inside-Ball should be off the plate on the inside and well in front of the hitter's front foot. Right handed hitters should be able to hit the ball to the left-center field gap; lefties, to right-center.
– Outside-Ball should be off the plate on the outside and behind the hitters front foot. Right-handed hitters should be able to hit the ball to right-center field; lefties, to left-center.
– Extreme high or low pitches can be practiced from all locations. Working on extreme locations proves to hitters they can successfully hit most any pitch necessary. This confidence is most important with two strikes.
Make good decisions, and swing at good pitches. Remember, whatever decision made as a hitter is the right decision … even if it is the wrong one. Swing like you mean it!
|Charity Butler is respected nationally & internationally as a pro athlete, writer, speaker, collegiate coach, hitting instructor and Certified Intrinsic Life Coach®.Currently, as a Pro Speaker for Sports World, Inc, Charity travels the country speaking to more than 40,000 people annually. As a recognized expert in confidence training, she also presents at various conferences, colleges & universities.Charity is the founder of Exceed Sports, LLC, and of the I Heart Fastpitch Campaign Join Charity On: Twitter, and on Instagram|
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