The Custom LXT HYPER

From Louisville Slugger

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A few weeks ago I was contacted by the media people at Louisville Slugger about reviewing their new custom bat program.

The folks at Louisville Slugger wanted my thoughts on their new custom bat program, and wanted me to share my thoughts with you the Fastpitch TV audience.

Louisville Slugger requested I go online, and actually go threw the same process of designing and buying a custom bat that a customer would do. I even got to choose any color combinations I desired.

This really did appeal to me since it actually allowed me to see what was involved in using their online design center which is located at http://custom.slugger.com

Let me tell you how the process of using the design center works for creating the bat of your dreams.

Upon opening the landing page you will need to choose between three options. You must decide if you want a custom wood bat, custom fastpitch bat, or custom fan collectable.

I am sure you will know what you want even before you get to the website.

After you have chosen fastpitch bats you will come to the information page about the LXT Hyper Fastpitch Bat. This basically tells you all about the bat you are getting ready to order.

Part of the information is the size options for the bat which are as follows:

The drop 11″ comes in 29″, 30″, 31″, 32″, 33″ lengths.
The drop 10″ comes in 31″, 32″, 33″, 34″ lengths.
The drop 9″ comes in 33″, 34″ lengths.
The drop 8″ comes in a 34″ length.

While there you will also see the following description:

The bat most frequently selected by elite Fastpitch players now brings one more thing to the table: customization. The LXT HYPER features new technology for the ultimate balanced swing weight and maximum pop, allowing players to get the most from their bat when they step into the box. The LXT HYPER is built with a 100% composite design and new PBF Barrel Technology that doubles the sweet spot for unmatched power. Louisville Slugger has improved the patented TRU3 Dynamic Socket Connection, allowing for necessary movement between the barrel and handle to maximize the barrel trampoline effect and eliminate negative vibration — giving you the best possible feel when you bring the bat through the zone. With thousands of color combinations to choose from, custom LXT HYPER bats are available in -11, -10, -9 and -8.

From there you will start with the process of designing your bat by choosing Customize.

Barrel
Step 1 Choose Your Barrel Options:
A. Choose between matte or gloss finish.
B. Choose the base color fir your bat from 14 colors.
C. Choose the color for the word Louisville on the barrel, and at the end of barrel from 18 colors.
D. Choose the color of the word LXT from 18 colors.

Step 2 Choose Your Handle Options:
A. Choose your handle base color from 16 colors. This is the actual color of the handle.
B. Choose the color of the decal on the handle from 18 colors.
C. Choose the cone color from 14 color combinations. This is the connector between the barrel and the handle.

Step 3 Choose Your Grip Options:
A. Choose the color of your grip tape from 21 colors and combinations.
Knob
Step 4 Choose Your End Cap and Knob Options:
A. Choose your end cap from 14 color combinations.
B. Choose your knob color from 16 colors.

Step 5 choose your weight drop & length:
A. Choose the weight drop for your bat.
B. Choose the length for your bat.
C. Choose from Left, or right handed bat. Yes, the grip tape is applied differently for left handed vs. right handed players.

Step 6 Personalize your barrel:
A. Add text to the barrel of your bat up to 9 characters.
B. Choose the color of your text from 13 colors.
C. Choose a font for your text from 4 different fonts.

Step 7 Review and buy:
A. Review the order and agree that it is what you want.
B Add to your shopping cat and purchase.

That is it. That is all there is to it. I designed my custom bat in less than 5 minutes and around 4 weeks later my custom bat showed up at my doorstep.

Of course I love the look of my new bat. Why did I love it? Because I designed it myself.

Now here is the best thing about the bat. It is a Louisville Slugger LXT which is probably the number one bat on the market.

Yes, not only do you get a great looking bat by designing it yourself, but you get a hitting machine of a bat.

I personally give the process of ordering your custom Louisville Slugger 5 out of 5 stars.

How do you think my new bat looks?

Bat

Design your own bat at http://custom.slugger.com.

Hitting in Post – Season Play

Written By Charity Butler

Softball Junk

Sponsored by SoftballJunk.com

Hiiting In Post-Season Play

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:

Decisive Swings
Pitch Selection
Decisive Swings

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!

Pitch Selection

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.

Simple Drills

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!

Strike Zone Mat hitting and pitching training aid

Fastpitch Softball Magazine Issue 48

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Issue 48 of The Fastpitch Magazine Published By Gary Leland

This month’s featured video is a Defensive Clinic With Carol Bruggerman. 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 August 2016 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 writes in the Softball Academy, “Doughnuts in the Dugout”.

Shannon McDougall is writing in, Planning for Success, her article “Planning for the Next Season”.

Aaron Weintraub’s column, Bridging The Gap, has his article “Bridging the Gap”.

Robby Wilson writes in his section, Recruiting in the Fastpitch Lane, with his article “What Type of Video is Right?″.

Michelle Diltz is back with an article on School of Strength, entitled “Combine Testing”.

Abby Hanrahan is back with The Pitching Link, in her article “Is Pitching for Me?”.

Dr. Sherry Werner joins us again with and article on Windmill Wisdom, “Parameters at Stride Foot Contact”.

Featuring a Video of the Month, by Carol Bruggerman, “Defense”.

Special Article featured from The Fastpitch Book, Written by Meagan Denny-White called “Pitching with a Purpose”.

Keri Casas writes this month from her section To Coach or Not to Coach with this article “Playing Time”.

Jen Croneberger writes from her column, These Five Words are Mine, with the article “Avoiding the Slump: Three C’s”.

I also feature my interview of the month with Jennifer McFalls.

All this and more in this months issue.

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Don’t Let Fear Get In The Way

Written By Dalton Ruer

 

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The sun is setting on another long day at the ball field. A day which held a number of ups and downs. One in which you are leaving the park with yet another of the$3.27 trophies that you have won in your career. Only this trophy has the words “Second Place” on it and you have no intention of putting it on your shelf. Not because you didn’t hit well. Not because you didn’t fight all the way until the end. No this trophy won’t be on your shelf simply because you know deep inside that you allowed fear to get the best of you.

It’s a fear that has been gnawing at you for years and one that you can’t seem to get over. You know you aren’t the fielder you could be because you just can’t get over it. You can’t even focus while the coach rattling off his customary “its ok we played our hearts out today” kind of speech. You know the one he says while avoiding eye contact with you. You don’t hear a thing your parents are saying as you get into your car because the voice inside your head is practically screaming. The same thing it seems to scream at every big tournament “Why do they always hit line drives near me when the game is on the line and WHY CAN’T I DIVE FOR THE BALL?”

If you’ve read my previous columns you know that they are usually full of humor. It would seem disrespectful of the game, and dishonoring of all the players out there for whom this is a very, very, very real fear. But if you’ve read my previous articles and watched the accompanying videos you also know that I’m not about to bring up this fear without providing a way to get over it. And that’s exactly what I expect you to do … go get your glove and a softball right now and get over it.

The fear of diving for the ball is based on a lack of understanding of what to do that allows you to not just belly flop onto a very hard field. Well getting over that fear starts with realizing and repeating two key things: 1 – Diving is best done really low to the ground and 2 – Diving involves going forward across the ground not down into the ground.

Sit down on your knees. Put the glove on. Lean forward with the back of your glove hand touching the ground with the glove open facing up with the ball in it. Now put your other hand on top of the ball, you know that whole 2 handed catch thing. Now simply extend your arms away from your body. Repeat the very simply “extend your arms away from your body movement” until you are comfortable.

If you are still alive and didn’t injury yourself diving for the ball in step 1 then take heart you just might get over your fear and are certainly ready for step 2. It involves leaning forward just the same way but instead of your hand being on the ground you need to lift it off the ground a few inches with open part of glove and ball still facing up and the other hand still covering the ball. Now continue the lean forward and practice extending your arms away from your body but this time, gulp, you’ll be 3-4 inches off the ground so that you’ll be able to differentiate flopping straight down from forcing your arms to extend.

If you are still with me I’m going to ask you to do something really hard. For this drill you are going to still be on your knees but sitting up instead of already on the ground and your hands are going to start out at your side. For this drill you are simply going to start leaning forward and bring your hands together for the catch as you do and then force your arms to extend. Your glove hand should do the same thing, the back of the glove should make contact with the ground with the open side up so that you can make a two handed catch and extend . If you have trouble visualizing this step, pause your reading and watch the video as Graham and Savannah demonstrate demonstrate for you as soon as they finish this part then stop the video and come back to this step for your own practice. Don’t rob me of the pleasure of telling you the next thing by going past that step in the video.

So what is it I wanted to share with you first . . . simply that you’ve just done the most difficult dive of your life. done the most difficult dive of your life. that I mentioned . . . Diving is best done low to the ground and up on your knees is way higher than you will need to dive once you stand up on your feet.

If you didn’t read my column about diving on the bases this might seem a little crazy but seriously once you stand up you’ll find that you have the most wonderful gift from God, the ability to bend your knees and lean forward . When you do that you are actually much lower to the ground than you are when you are up on your knees. If you don’t believe go ahead and watch a little more in the video, or have your mom or dad co me sit on their knees and you try and bend and lean as far forward as you can with your glove leg in front of you and your throwing hand in the back, right next to them and you’ll see that you are in fact much lower than you were on your knees.

How cool is that? Not kidding that is awesome news. Or at least it should be. It means that everything else you’ll work on this month and in the 2 articles that follow are all going to be gravy compared to the whopper of a dive you did way up in the air on your knees. So let’s get on with the easy stuff now.

Start out by standing up in the air and do that same lean, glove leg front, ball in your throwing hand, and lean as far forward as you can before gravity pulls you down and then dive forward and bring your hands together for the catch just like you’ve practiced since the beginning.

Did you do it? Did you repeat it? Did you get up thinking “Go ahead and hit that same line drive near me next game and see how that works out for you” Because you should. You are no longer a player who has to fear the ball coming near you but not right at you because you are now a player who can DIVE FOR THE BALL. Next month we’ll be looking at the next step in your progression so see you soon. Or at least you’ll see me. It’s not like I can see you or anything. That would just be weird.

Softball Junk

Sponsored by SoftballJunk.com

Youth Sports Coaching Certification

Written By Mitch Alexander

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Youth Sports Coaching Certification

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If you’ve been following this column, you know my area of focus is youth sports. Primarily, 8-18 year old softball players ­ recreational level, summer Williamsport competition, and travel ball. Last week, Marie and I had the opportunity to be re-certified by the State University of New York through their Youth Sports New York program. Certification is required by our Little League District. I believe we are the first district in New York to require every manager, coach, and volunteer who comes in contact with youth athletes to be both certified and pass a background check. Sounds kind of boring? So what, who cares? As a parent and possibly a coach, you should care that the people who are providing guidance and leadership for your children know something about coaching. I’m not just talking about sports skills, but more about the soft skills and management skills that are not specific to one sport but apply to all sports.

We went through nine modules of training, each focused on a different key aspect of coaching youth sports. We were reminded of many INTERESTING facts and coaching tips. Many of these you may never have heard before! Here are the highlights:

30 – 40 million kids participate in organized sports per year

80% of these kids play sports away from school

The amount of time kids spend on organized sports has doubled over the past 20 years

However, over the past 20 years, kids spend less (up to eight hours less) time per week on unstructured sports or free play.

Over 45% of kids surveyed said they have been called names, yelled at, or insulted by coaches

21 % were forced to play with an injury

Over 1 7 % said they were hit, kicked, or slapped by their coach

20 years ago kids learned to play sports in their backyards without the help of adults

Over 65% of kids surveyed said they play sports to be with their friends

Only 20% of kids surveyed said they want to improve their skills

Winning is not very important to kids

70% of kids drop out of sports by age 13

Half of the top six reasons kids quit sports involved the coach: played favorites, poor teacher, or don’t like the coach

Organized sports often require both excessive psychological and physical demands

Reduced team size allows younger or less skilled players to get more action time

Coaches are often more interested in winning than player development

A coach’s manner determines how they are remembered

Coaching relies on the art of communicating with the youth athletes and connecting with them

Good coaches tend to be good teachers

A good story or probing question can help make practices interesting to kids

Use the sandwich technique when giving constructive feedback: give a positive comment, the constructive feedback, followed by a positive comment

Try to provide 15 minutes of fun time per practice for team building, creating great memories, and growing their passion for the game

Establish the parents’ expectations on day one with a communications plan

Discuss on-field behavior, sportsmanship, and responsibilities with your players

Coach to the middle players, (not the top players) who will improve through confidence and practice. Top players help the middle players and weaker players see that it’s possible to excel

“For kids, a loss lasts about a day but a barbeque lasts a lifetime” – Timothy Donovan

Don’t coach your own child, have another coach do it and you coach their kid

Never let players instruct other players as if they are the coach

Pay attention to off-ball activity as this is where dirty play frequently happens

Coaches need to be aware of how to prevent and detect concussions

Almost 6% of softball injuries include concussions

The most common types of softball injuries are shoulder and arm injuries including strains, pulls, and tears

Dehydration is a common problem for softball players in warm weather

Players should drink 8 ounces of water 15 minutes before a game, 4-8 ounces every 15 minutes during the game, and 16 -32 ounces after the games are over

Do not allow energy drinks in the dugout

Sports drinks are made for adults. Kids can get stomach cramps by drinking them in large quantities

Dilute sports drinks 50% for kids to drink

Monitor the heat index to prevent heat-related injuries

As a coach you need to check your playing field before each game and determine if it’s safe. If not, either correct the problems or don’t play the game

The certification class lasts about three hours. We had a great instructor with lots of experience coaching and refereeing many sports. Many other important topics were covered. This is a crash course on how to be a good coach. The instructor did not talk about how to swing a bat or throw a softball. Instead, he talked about how to connect with student athletes, how to run practices, the key aspects of player and parent compacts, and safety issues . No one was bored or nodded off! This is important stuff and it matters, especially to your kids. If you happen to live in New York, try to attend one of these certification sessions . Even if you live outside of New York State, you can still learn lots more about these topics by going to the Youth Sports New York website at www.youthsportsny.org . They have sample practice plans, communications plans, parent and player compacts, lots of information about concussions, videos, and a whole lot more to help you be the best coach you can be – a coach that kids twenty years from now will remember as someone who inspired and influenced them to be a better person and a better athlete.

Dallas / Fort Worth Coaches Group

The Anatomy of a Power Hitter

Written By Rob Crews

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The Anatomy Of A Power Hitter

 

Here are 3 reasons why just about everyone in softball should/could be a power hitter:

1. The BATS are ridiculously juiced up.

2. The FENCES are unbelievably short.

3. There aren’t that many dominant PITCHERS (mainly because there are too many teams).

Let ‘s be real honest here. The game of softball has evolved. On offense, speed and power are Queen. If you’re not fast or able to drop bombs, you will not be on the radar of major 01 programs -and there’s nothing a recruiting service can do about that. Top 25 college teams are fast at the top and strong in the middle. Now you may say well I can strength train and that will help me hit home runs. Well … maybe. Nothing against strength training but Home run power is largely due to hitting mechanics and more knowledgeable hitting coaches. Coaches who have a better understanding of proper hitting mechanics and players who can implement what they’re learning. There a lot of strong female athletes out there. But strength is about less than half of the necessary ingredients for dropping 225 foot fly balls over the fence. The majority of it is pure mechanics. The proof is that there are plenty of strong bodied young ladies who never gain an understanding of how to execute their natural strength. Just ask all the college teams who wake up at 5am for weights and still can’t hit home runs. It’s not because of weak hitters and not always due to a mediocre hitting model -but lack of implementation of proper mechanics. I’m simply saying that if you can get your smallest, skinniest player to execute the power she already has, then she is indeed a power hitter. Make no mistake about it, with the right combination of talent, work ethic, and instruction, a legitimate power hitter can be created . A hitter who never thought she was a power hitter can suddenly realize it.

Most young players dream of and aspire to competing at the top 25 college level more than any other level I can think of. At the top 25 college level, you don’t see a lot of innings where hitters are getting 3 singles to score. Top 25 college pitchers are holding batters to batting averages of under .125 and only walking about .5 batters per inning . Hence it’s not about batting averages. If you wanna win, you don’t need more hits, you need more runs than your opponent -that ‘s doubles and home runs.

Even if that petite second baseman lived in the gym and drank daily protein shakes, she still needs to execute whatever strength she gained from those lifestyle changes. Her natural strength by itself should be enough to split a gap or pop a few over the fence. The execution of that strength comes from body position, sequence and direction of movements -also body rhythms and tempos. Please don’t confuse softball with baseball. Baseball is 410 feet dead center, 375 in the alleys and 335 down the line. Yeah they need weights, maybe steroids too Uoke). But softball isn’t girl’s baseball. Softball is a sport so similar to baseball’s rules, but the game and it’s culture, especially it’s players are so different. And at the highest level, it is actually more difficult. That’s another article.

This is my short version of the anatomy of the power hitter. And I’m gonna keep this quick and simple because it really isn’t very complicated.

Let ‘s work backwards:

3. Spin and Flight- the last thing that has to happen in a perfect home run swing is perfect spin at ball exit. The only reason a ball can scientifically make it over a fence is due to the amount of backspin a hitter can combine with the amount of force (mass x acceleration) that goes into impact. Proper spin gives a ball enough lift-force to become that fly ball outfielders run out of room for.

2. Hand Path- proper hand path enables a hitter to create the spin which creates home run trajectory. We create the possibility of good spin because of hand path and no other reason. But hand path itself is born out of the correct leg position, which has been proven to be no easy task.

1. Leg Position- if I see one more hitter spinning their back foot I’m gonna loose my mind. Squishing the bug went out with VHS -seriously. Teaching young hitters to understand the leg position is easy, but maintaining the balance for the duration of ball flight is hard part. The position or direction of the back foot can contribute to front hips that open too much and too early. Open front hips contribute to wrist rolling. And wrist rolling contributes to poor bat angles and top-spin which gives us the ground ball. Ground balls don’t go over the fence. Power hitters (especially slow ones) need more fly balls to increase their chances of hitting HR’s.

I hope this article helped someone to gain another perspective on power hitting. Next issue, I am talking about making the transition from Travel Ball hitter to College hitter.

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