Pop Flies: Dropping Hands Are NOT The Problem

Written By Charity Butler

Pop Flies Dropping Hands Is Not The Problem

Fastpitch Softball Magazine App for iOS and Android!” width=

When interviewing a new hitting student, I ask a series of quick-fire questions to understand as much about each player as possible before working on new hitting ideas or techniques. Most hitters can articulate at least three weaknesses or struggles they possess, and have difficulty recalling any of their strengths.

Players are so constantly told what not-to-do or what to avoid that they become fixated on the negative. Many of my new students describe themselves pessimistically by saying, “I drop my hands a lot.”

Hitting a fastpitch softball is one of the most difficult skills to perform in any sport. The reaction time allotted a hitter from the pitcher’s release to contact with the ball is almost instantaneous. Trying to decipher the hands’ path during this rapid succession of movements is seemingly impossible.

As hitters, thinking too much about our hands is a source of frustration and stress. This causes tension in the mind and body and creates additional problems. To be successful, hitters cannot guide or aim the bat barrel with rigid movements. They must be free to trust the hands and let them fly through the hitting zone.

Further, when the focus in a hitter’s mind becomes, “Don’t drop my hands,” she is mentally practicing what she wants to avoid. Our minds work visually, disregarding the “don’t”. When a hitter hears or internally repeats, “Don’t drop.” What is she seeing in her mind? Dropping her hands!

Dropping and hitting pop flies as a result is a common problem at most every level of play. The solution, however, is quite simple. Dropping the hands is usually a symptom of a different problem: poor posture. Changing a hitter’s posture quite often eliminates or dropping.

Watch this 47 second video for a quick explanation of Punching Posture at Contact:

http://www.ubersense.com/video/view/VAVX6ywt

When hitters feel for themselves the power and consistency generated through a tall, strong and balanced punching posture, they can visualize proper form and work toward achieving it.

Rarely will a hitter drop her hands while maintaining a strong punching posture. Most often, the hands drop as a result of the entire upper body leaning (or dropping) back toward the catcher.

Correcting a posture problem is much less tedious than changing hand movements. Hitters tend to feel the difference in strong and weak posture immediately and can make the adjustment with ease. Once posture is corrected, the hands begin to work more effectively without additional thought or worry.

Another beneficial visual for hitters is what I call, “the pole”. While in her hitting stance, I encourage a hitter to picture in her mind a pole running vertically through her body, from the crown of her head to the dirt or turf beneath. I then challenge the hitter to keep her body in line with the pole throughout her entire swing.

Staying in line with the pole only applies to leaning forward toward the pitcher or backward toward the catcher. A nature body tilt down and in toward the hitting zone is natural and necessary. This tilt, though, will happen naturally.

Much like the idea of punching posture if a hitter can picture, and more importantly feel, staying in line with the pole she is much less likely to drop her hands and hit pop flies.

A focus on punching posture or staying within the pole equips a hitter to picture proper form. As she adopts the new concepts, “Swing like I’m punching,” or “Keep my pole,” she is visualizing a more fundamentally sound swing. She is training her mind to lead the way, so her body executes more effectively.

The top athletes in the world make intentional visualization a part of their regular training routines. We use the same part of the brain to practice mentally that we use when physically performing. Visualization does affect performance, both positively and negatively. The words we repeat and the resulting mental images they create are powerful.

In addition, a punching posture mind-set emphasizes aggression. Although improving as hitters does sometimes require scrutinizing minute details, players often shut down when overloaded with too many particulars to process. Over-thinking creates unwelcome caution. Training cautiously does not equip hitters to maximize their potential.

The best hitters build solid fundamental muscle memory and then execute with reckless abandon. Caution is not welcome! The punching posture mindset allows hitters freedom to read the pitch and react without hesitation.

Concisely, punching posture produces competent and confident hitters!

Fastpitch Softball Books

Respect The Game

Written By Bryan Ingalls

Fastpitch Chat Show App Featuring Softball Tips & How-To's

Respect The Game

Video On Demand

Usually you see me writing about the Pitcher and Catcher relationship or something along the lines of a catching aspect in here, but this article is something that I believe every athlete should read let alone softball player. It has to do with something that I believe can be lost very easily in this day and age with Athletics, not just by the players, but by coaches, parents, administration, and fans. It is Respect, Respect for the Game, and Respect for Your Game.

I used to be big on rules, I thought that the more rules you incorporated the easier it would be to keep the athletes out of trouble and the easier it would be to enforce them. Still being young yet experienced in the game and the coaching world I have come to the realization that you really only need one rule and that can cover just about everything involved with your sport and enforcement. Its called Respect. Not just Respect your coach, or respect your family, or school, or teammates. Respect the Game.

If you truly Respect the Game and get an understanding of the history and all the hard work people before you put in to get it to where its at you will truly grow to love your sport. When that happens you will do whatever it takes to get the most out of your potential and truly appreciate the opportunity you get to be a participant everyday. Respecting the game has so many meaning while it may be such a simple phrase.

When I think of Respecting the game, I think of a 39 year old Derek Jeter who has nothing to prove to anybody yet going 100% up the line until that ball is caught and called out on a routine ground ball. I think of Coaches like Coach K and Jim Boeheim of Duke And Syracuse who have been involved in their sports and at the top of the history books in wins yet are still putting in the hours to get even better well into their 60's. I think of Peyton Manning who spends countless hours in the film room dissecting his opponent for the next week so he is fully prepared.

But it is not only professionals. They have a God given gift but they work so hard to maintain that gift and sustain it for a long prosperous career. But I also think of the 12 year old kid who just had a 2 hour practice and wants to go hit later at the batting cage, and the 100 degree days where a girl is in the heat shooting a basketball instead of in the house with the AC on blast staying cool. That is all Respect for the Game.

I feel that there is way too much entitlement in this day in age not only in professional sports but college as well. Being content and settling on the level you are at or resting and taking a play off because the game is in hand, or simply losing that fire because you may have won the title the year before. That is not Respecting the Game. True character comes out when nobody is watching. When the stands are empty and nobody sees you what are you doing to better your game.

Respecting the Game is not about just better your own physical and mental game, it is helping your teammates. Every person on a team plays a role and without that role the team cannot reach its potential. Every rep you take off is disrespecting your time, your teammates time and your coaches time. Everything that you do says something so be prepared to make a statement with every action.

Coaches, do not rest on the knowledge that you have right now, the game is ever changing and you can learn things from not only coaches at a higher level or coaches with more experience but you can learn from lower level coaches and beginners. Everyone has a different outlook and everyone sees the game a little bit differently so never be too big to take a second to learn, or take that extra minute to have a conversation. That is Respecting the Game.

Players, never take it for granted, every rep is important and will affect the outcome of your performance. You have to put in the energy so you might as well make the most out of it. Complete every rep in your workouts and then do one more. Play for yourself and the alumni that paved the way and the players 50 years ago who without them maybe this sport would not be around.

Fans, Parents, Administration, the game is about the people that are playing, it is not about you or what is best for you. You are all there to support the athletes and support the Whatever the sport is you are involved in, Respect it. Respect the process. Respect the players. Respect the Coaches. And most importantly Respect yourself. If you just think to yourself is this Respecting the game or did I respect the game today, than the rest will take care of itself and your goals and aspirations will be taken care of from there on out.

Programs, do that, and do that positively. The parents have raised the athletes and the Administration has hired the coaches. Let the people that were put in place do the job they were intended on doing. The games are exciting, so much work is put in, Respect the Game by supporting, and supporting is so much more than merely being in attendance at an event.

Strike Zone Mat hitting and pitching training aid

Schutt Tee Topper Review

Hitting Aid

Schutt Tee Topper Softball
Schutt Tee Topper Softball

Tee Topper by Schutt

$12.95

Helps you hit the ball, not the tee!

For use in Softball and Baseball

Clear, Flexible, Durable

In Stock And Ready To Ship

Will leave my Texas warehouse the next business day

PHONE: 817-303-6620

SKU: Tee Topper FTV Categories: ,

Product Description

Are you tired of replacing your entire batting tee because of the top part wearing out? Hitting off of the same tee can put a lot of wear and tear on the top where the ball sits. When the ball no longer stays on the tee because of wear and tear, most people think they have no other choice than to buy an entire new hitting tee. Preserve the life of your batting tee by investing in the durable long lasting Schutt Tee Topper.

Additional Information

Weight1 lbs
Dimensions12 x 4 x 4 in

The Schutt Tee Topper Preserves Your Batting Tee

Schutt Tee Topper Hitting Aid Product Review

The Schutt Tee Topper is a small investment to save you a lot of time and money in the future. This device turns your batting tee into a long lasting durable hitting tee. Simply put this durable and flexible adapter into the top of your standard batting tee and your baseball or softball sits firmly on the top. The clear design allows batters to focus in on hitting the ball and not the tee.

Stop replacing perfectly good tees when you can buy the Schutt Tee Topper to fix your problems. This clear tee topper will not only last longer than the original ball holder on your tee, it will teach you to focus on hitting the ball and not the tee. Save yourself some money in the future by buying the Schutt Tee Topper now.

Click Here To See More Of Our Training Aids

Fastpitch Softball TV Store

Fastpitch Softball Magazine Issue 53

FPM 53 Thumbnail

Issue 53 of The Fastpitch Magazine Published By Gary Leland

This month's featured video is an interview with Carol Hutchins. I have also included one of my great softball drills, another featured chapter from The Fastpitch Book, and all your helpful articles from our amazing writers.

Welcome to the January 2017 Issue of the Fastpitch Magazine. The Fastpitch magazine has been bringing you more fastpitch softball articles and videos than anyone on the planet for over two full years.

Mitch Alexander starts this issue with “Collegiate View: Playing in Division I” from the column Softball Academy.

Robby Wilson's column, Recruiting in the Fastpitch Lane brings his article “It's ‘The Recruiting Process', Not Recruiting Day”.

This months featured video of the month is an interview with Carol Hutchins.

Jen Croneberger joins us again with her article from These Five Words are Mine, “Regroup. Refocus. Know Yourself First”.

I also feature my interview of the month with Michelle Granger

All this and more in this months issue.

Subscribe Today!
Choose from iTunes or Android
 

Fastpitch Magazine iTunes InfoFastpitch Magazine Android Info

Use Your Legs

Written By Sherry Werner

Fastpitch Softball Player Search for Teams & Players!

Use Your Legs

WeightedBalls.com For Baseball & Softball Training Balls & Training Aids!

Last month I stressed the importance of footwork during the initial stages of the windmill pitch. To recap: Proper foot placement in the stance phase allows for good balance, which is critical to rhythm and coordination, and efficient force generation. The feet are the only body parts in contact with the ground, and the force produced as the feet push against the resistance of the ground are ultimately imparted to the ball.

To elaborate on how the forces flow from the ground to the ball, I will use the analogy of several cars in a train representing “segments” of the body (i.e. the foot, lower leg, thigh, etc.). If a force is imparted to a car at one end of the train, a chain of events will occur. Part of the initial force will in turn be imparted by the first car on the next car through their point of connection (i.e. a joint, such as the ankle, knee or hip). The orientation of the two cars relative to one another will determine what effect the force has on the second and each successive car of the train. Although this example is very simplified, it does reflects what happens in the body.

In pitching, the muscles of the leg contract in order for the foot to push against the ground. In reaction, the ground provides resistance and a push, equal and opposite, is imparted to the foot. Part of this force, plus additional forces due to motion of the foot, are then passed to the lower leg through the ankle joint. Likewise, force is passed from the lower leg to the thigh via the knee joint, from the thigh to the trunk via the hip joint, etc. This description is also oversimplified. The orientation and configuration of the muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones make this process extremely complex. Coordination of joint movements to ensure efficient transfer of force is very important.

Force production first comes into play at the end of the stance phase. As the pitcher’s center of gravity shifts from being centered over the back (stride) foot to being centered over the front (pivot) foot, the stride begins. The front foot then presses against the ground (and the ground pushes back with an equal and opposite reaction). This force acts to move the body forward through the stride. As the stride foot touches down it then assists the pivot foot in creating forces to close the hips and drive the body forward. Once the ball is released, hip rotation and the drive of the stride leg should cause the pivot leg to move forward, and the pivot foot steps up toward the stride foot. This step forward assists in dissipating the energy built up in the arm.

Principles of and flaws in the mechanics of the stride

Just as proper positioning of the feet is important during the stance, stride foot placement is also vital to pitching performance. For each athlete there is an optimal stride length depending on body height, leg length, flexibility, etc. Problems result in both underestimating and overestimating this optimal length. Understriding creates timing and force generation problems. A short stride does not afford the arm enough time to go through its motion, and lower body movements get ahead of upper body movements. If coordination between the lower and upper body is compromised, efficient flow of forces from the legs through the trunk to the arm is also compromised.

Overstriding causes a multitude of problems as well. Pitchers who overstride tend to land on a straight stride leg. A slightly bent knee is more advantageous because knee flexion can absorb some of the vertical force on the stride leg. Otherwise, this force could manifest itself in hip and/or low back injury. A stride that is too long also reduces the range of motion of the hips as they rotate from an open to a closed position. As the distance from the pivot foot to the stride foot increases, so does the stretch across the muscles at the front of the hips. Eventually the limits of these muscles’ lengths are reached and hip rotation is stopped short of full rotation. The longer the stride, the harder it is to close the hips.

A third problem that occurs in overstriding is movement of the center of gravity down and backward in relation to the stride foot. The longer the stride, the lower the center of gravity and the farther the distance from the center of gravity to the stride foot. If the goal of the movement is to move the body forward, the center of gravity should be high and forward in relation to the stride foot. “Sitting back” does not allow the body to assist the arm in propelling the ball forward.

Overstretching of the muscles of the stride leg also makes it difficult for the muscles to push against the ground. When a muscle is at maximal length it does not have good leverage, and can therefore create little force. All in all, overstriding minimizes the contribution of the lower body since hip rotation is hindered and force generation is minimized. This places the burden of force production on the throwing arm. Striding toward the target is the most efficient path.

Lateral position of the stride foot is also important. If we use a straight line from the center of the pivot foot to the apex of home plate as a guideline, placement of the stride foot too far to the left or right of this line will result in inefficient hip rotation. The farther to the left of the line the foot is placed (for a right-handed pitcher), the more closed the hips are at stride foot contact, thus reducing the potential for hip rotation during the delivery phase. Conversely, if the stride foot placement is too far to the right of the line, the hips tend to remain open and do not contribute to ball speed. Stride foot orientation follows the same logic. If the foot points toward first base, the lower leg and thigh will also rotate in that direction tending to close the hips prematurely. A stride foot pointing toward third base causes rotation in the opposite direction and makes it difficult to close the hips. Optimal orientation of the stride foot is half way between completely open and completely closed.

The legs act to generate force, rotate the trunk and absorb energy throughout the pitch. Considering these lower body contributions, it seems imperative for pitchers to strengthen the muscles of the feet, lower legs and thighs. The trunk (back and stomach muscles) needs to be strengthened as well since it is the link between the lower body and the arm. The shoulder, elbow and wrist joints cannot do it alone. Use of the legs in pitching is all-important.

Fastpitch Radio Network Fastpitch Softball Website

Mizuno Training Mitt – Classic Pro GXT1

Fielding Aid

Mizuno Classic Pro GXT1 Right Hand Training Mitt Front View
Mizuno Classic Pro GXT1 Right Hand Training Mitt Back View

Mizuno GXT1 – Training Mitt

$39.95

SKU: GXT1ARG FTV Category:

Product Description

An important part of fielding mechanics includes using two hands to field a ground ball. A main key to fielding mechanics is properly fielding and catching the ball with two hands. Using two hands secures the ball in the glove and allows for a quick and easy transfer of the ball from the glove to the hand to throw. The more you improve your fielding mechanics, the quicker you can get the ball out of the glove and throw it to first.

Additional Information

Weight2 lbs
Dimensions6 x 6 x 6 in

The Most Versatile Two Hands Softball Trainer

Mizuno Training Mitt - Classic Pro GXT1 Two Hands Trainer

The Classic Pro GXT1 – Mizuno Training Mitt is the perfect tool to teach you to use two hands while fielding a ball. Great for baseball or softball, this padded leather mitt comfortably sits on your hand like your actual glove. The mitt is designed with an flat oblong shape. Even though mostly flat, the training mitt features padding to make the training experience more comfortable.

When fielding a ground ball wearing the Mizuno GXT1 Training Mitt, you are forced to get down and use both hands to field and keep the ball secure. If you fail to use two hands, the ball will bounce off the mitt. Repeated use of this training tool will significantly improve your fielding mechanics.

I can guarantee you this training tool is an essential device to advance your fielding mechanics. Repeated use of the Mizuno GXT1 Training Mitt will also accelerate your glove to hand transfer time. Start fielding balls the proper way with the GXT1 Mizuno Training Mitt and two hands!

Click Here To See More Of Our Training Aids

Fastpitch Softball TV Store