Protect Your Booty

Written By Dalton Ruer

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Strike Zone Mat hitting and pitching training aid

Now that’s not something you read very often, nor something I’ve ever written before. However, I thought it was a great attention getter and pretty much sums up this month’s video.

Last month you’ll recall we looked at all of the ways that players are injured while attempting to slide and how they can be avoided. The number one safety issue is keeping your extended knee bent so your leg can give. After that it all comes down to distributing your body weight so that you can over come friction and actually slide.

Perhaps you’ve been part of a team or seen pictures/videos online of teams that practice sliding using a slip and slide. They are fun and certainly work well with the concept of team building and a cookout perhaps I don’t really like idea of practicing sliding in that way. Nor do I like the cardboard box and socks approach. I’m not scroogish against players having fun it’s just that both of those techniques allow you to slide anyway you want including ways that on a ball field will cause a lot of friction or cause serious injury.

My fundamental philosophy for anything is to practice the way you expect to play in the game. So this month Caitlin and Walker and of course YOU will be doing lots of sliding on the field. In a game you may end up sliding 2-3 times at most. During the course of a tournament you might slide 10 times. During the filming of this video the girls probably slid 60+ times. That’s a lot of friction that they incurred. That’s a lot of friction that you will incur as you put in the time learning how to truly distribute your weight. So my best advice … you guessed … is to protect your booty. I want your body to feel the friction. Get stuck in it if need be. But I don’t want you to needlessly burn yourself from the repetitiveness of what you’ll be doing this month.

Unlike most other drills I’ve asked you to practice the ones this month are going to require you to have 2 people who can help you and they will need a bat. Coaches if you are watching this is the perfect type of practice to involve as many parents as possible. As long as you let them know to bend their knees and hold the bat below their waist just about anyone can do the holding.

Practice is the best teacher has never been more true than for what you’ll be working on this month. In the first drill players will be on the ground in their figure 4 position and will reach up to hold the bat. The first thing I want you to learn this month is how to truly distribute your weight and that involves arching your back and extending at the same time. You will need to use the bat as leverage just like you would swing on the monkey bars or something. Now you know why I have the players with me … you will understand much better when you watch them. What you’ll find is that eventually you will get the timing correct and you’ll be exploding forward even though you have to overcome an enormous amount of friction because your booty is glued to the ground to start with. It may take you 3 times to get it, or it may take you 20 times to get it. Don’t move on until you do.

Once you have that I’m going to do you a huge favor I’m going to let you start without any friction holding you. But don’t get to excited because again it’s hard for me to explain with just words. You are going to start out standing up and holding the bat. The leg you extend for sliding is going to be leaned way back and then you are going to swing it under the bat and go into a slide. That had to be painful to read, because it was painful to write. If you email me I will thank Caitlin and Walker for you because when you see them it will make total sense. The purpose of this drill should be really obvious … help you realize that once you can overcome friction sliding becomes really easy. As with the first drill please don’t move on until you really have it and can repeat it several times without messing up. That’s called building muscle memory.

The next step in your progression this month is realizing that with speed this drill becomes so much easier. For this drill you will stand about 5 feet from the bat, run at it, grab it and then do your slide. Don’t cheat this part of the drill. If I wanted you to be in a stopped position before your slide I would have had you just do drill number 2 for the rest of your life. As you go faster and faster to the bat if you don’t slow down you are going to feel yourself actually sliding across the ground. As you get more and more comfortable then feel free to step back about 10 feet from the bat instead of just 5 and go full speed.

Be sure as you are doing these drills that you hold onto the bat. Don’t let go until you are stopped and ready to stand back up. If you are doing them correctly you will feel yourself jerking to a stop because your hands are on the bat. Instead of doing a seat drop you are now actually sliding across the ground and your arms are holding you back. Here is the cool part … you are just getting started with the weight distribution. Once you let go you are going to sail across the ground. Oh baby that’s going to be fun.

But wait I’m getting ahead of myself. I need you to have a helmet on before we get to that. So next month have your helmet ready so that we can finish this up. Wooo hooo.

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Dalton Ruer

Dalton Ruer

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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