Monthly Archives: December 2006

Swinging “level”

Just got back from teaching pitching lessons up at Grand Slam USA in Spring Grove. One of the toughest things for me is what I hear around the batting cages while I’m teaching a lesson.

There is just so much misinformation and plain old bad advice offered. I believe most (if not all) is well-intentioned, but we all know what’s paved with good intentions.

Here’s an example. I heard one coach/dad telling his daughter to “swing level.” Based on what I saw when I glimpsed at it, he meant level relative to the ground.

The problem with this advice is that it encourages a swing where the hitter drops her hands and then draws them straight across her body. Not only is this not a very powerful way of swinging, it also limits the hitter’s ability to adjust to the pitch. You have to guess really, really well to even hope to make contact.

If you watch major league baseball or the better hitters in the Women’s College World Series you will never see a hitter swing level to the ground. What you will really see is the back shoulder drive down toward the ball with the bat angled down toward the ground at approximately the same angle as the shoulders. Even on high pitches there will be some downward slant of the shoulders. 

Here’s a screen capture of Paul Konerko from 2005. Note the angle of his shoulders. He was actually fooled on this pitch, but still managed to recover and smack a double on it.

  <IMG src="/images/55650-48775/Konerko.png”>

Here’s another one, this time of Kristie Fox of Arizona. It is at the point of contact on a home run. Note that the ball came across just below waist high. Her back shoulder is down, and she has a slight upswing on the ball to match the plane on which it is traveling. Nothing about this says “level,” at least in the sense most people think about it. Also the head of the bat is lower than the handle.

<IMG src="/images/55650-48775/Fox_HR.png”>

The key thing is make sure what you’re saying matches what great hitters actually do. Otherwise in your desire to help you may be setting players back.

Advertisements

Hot Potato

One of the challenges teaching pitching to younger girls is getting them the idea of moving quickly when delivering the pitch.

I recently ran into that challenge and found a new way to explain what I was looking for. I asked each pitcher if she had ever played the game of “hot potato.” They all had, so I explained it this way. From the time you begin moving forward, you are playing hot potato. You need to get rid of the ball as fast as you can or else risk getting stuck and being eliminated from the game.

It seemed to work, as each of them picked up the pace after we discussed it.

(By the way, for those few who aren’t familiar with the game, you have the participants sit in a circle and hand a potato to one of them. You start the music, or a timer, and the player with the potato tosses or passes it to someone else in the circle. You keep going until the music stops. The person holding the potato is then eliminated. You keep doing this until there is a winner. The game definitely encourages everyone to move quickly, and get rid of the ball as fast as you can.

Your favorite team offense drill

Mike Hanscom was looking for a way to exchange drills, so I have started a series of posts in various areas (which should make them more searchable down the line).

If you have a favorite team offense drill you’d like to share, please leave a comment. Thanks!

Your favorite team defense drills

Mike Hanscom was looking for a way to exchange drills, so I have started a series of posts in various areas (which should make them more searchable down the line).

If you have a favorite team defense drill you’d like to share, please leave a comment. Thanks!

Your favorite throwing drills

Mike Hanscom was looking for a way to exchange drills, so I have started a series of posts in various areas (which should make them more searchable down the line).

If you have a favorite throwing drill you’d like to share, please leave a comment. Thanks!

Your favroite fielding drills

Mike Hanscom was looking for a way to exchange drills, so I have started a series of posts in various areas (which should make them more searchable down the line).

If you have a favorite fielding drill you’d like to share, please leave a comment. Thanks!

Your favorite catching drills

Mike Hanscom was looking for a way to exchange drills, so I have started a series of posts in various areas (which should make them more searchable down the line).

If you have a favorite catching drill you’d like to share, please leave a comment. Thanks!

Your favorite pitching drills

Mike Hanscom was looking for a way to exchange drills, so I have started a series of posts in various areas (which should make them more searchable down the line).

If you have a favorite pitch drill you’d like to share, please leave a comment. Thanks!

Your favorite hitting drills

Mike Hanscom was looking for a way to exchange drills, so I have started a series of posts in various areas (which should make them more searchable down the line).

If you have a favorite hitting drill you’d like to share, please leave a comment. Thanks!

Shameless self-promotion

As I make my way through the blogging world, one of the challenges is getting people to this Life in the Fastpitch Lane site. In doing a little playing around I made a discovery today. If you do a Google search, it will look for the name of the blog on Web sites and in posts, but it won’t recognize it on its own.

So since the goal is to get more people here and engaged in conversations about softball, it looks like I need to say Life in the Fastpitch Lane a little more often. After all, most of the world begins its search on Google, so you have to be visible there.

I am sorry about the shameless self-promotion. But I believe including the phrase Life in the Fastpitch Lane, and putting up the occassional shameless self-promotional post, contributes to the greater good. So live with it!

%d bloggers like this: