Teach Your Players to Focus on Compact Swings with This Softball Hitting Drill
Fastpitch softball is different, no more so than in what batters have to deal with in the batting box. The motion of the swing is perhaps the most important consideration for dealing with this style of softball – your players can’t have a long motion swing. They need to develop compact swings. A number of drills can help, but this one is perfect for use on the field, at home and pretty much anywhere else. It requires very little space, and very little in the way of equipment. Solo practice is also possible, as is team practice.
A Look at the Drill
This drill requires no bat, no ball and doesn’t even have to be done on the field (or outside, for that matter). You’ll need one person and a dumbbell. That’s it. Don’t use a bat because it actually encourages players to use a long motion on their swings. A dumbbell’s compact form factor will help teach short, compact swings and promote muscle memory and the right stance for fastpitch softball.
To get started, you’ll need at least one lightweight dumbbell. Heavier dumbbells can work as well, but remember that the point of this drill is not to build muscle, but to reinforce tight, compact swings. Choose a dumbbell light enough for the player to use.
Have the player position her hand on the dumbbell just like she was holding a bat (holding the shaft of the dumbbell roughly perpendicular to the body, with hands set one above the other near the base of the weight). Now, she should drop into a batting stance.
The player should lead with her elbow, and then throw her bottom hand across her chest. The dumbbell will follow a straight line form the back shoulder to the front side of the chest. This is the compact motion necessary for dealing with fastpitch pitchers. Your player has just done one rep. Run through roughly 3 sets of 15 reps each and then switch out your players.
Tips and Tricks
Obviously, this drill is ripe for modification and use in a number of environments. It’s an excellent choice for solo practice off the field, and players can easily purchase a cheap dumbbell at most any big box store and practice during their downtime at home. The only thing to ensure here is that you’ve properly introduced your players to the right stance and the right hand positions on the dumbbell. Run the drill several times during practice on the field before giving the OK for them to do it on their own time.
Another way to change things up is to increase the weight of the dumbbell. While this drill doesn’t focus on building muscle strength, more muscle equates to more hitting power. Start your players off with a weight they can comfortably use, and then advance to sequentially heavier weights. You might start off with a two-pound dumbbell, and then move up to a four-pound weight, then a six or eight-pound weight. Eventually, you’ll see a significant improvement in hitting power, while still ensuring your players have the compact swing they need in the batting box.
If your team is on a tight budget and equipment is scarce, you don’t have to buy dumbbells for this drill. Anything heavy, compact and small enough to be held correctly during the drill will work. A heavy length of steel pipe could work just fine. You can also check garage sales, flea markets and other locations for cheap weights to add to your team’s equipment.