Daily Archives: February 27, 2007

Flattening out the bat

It’s an inescapable fact that the earlier in an athletic movement a mistake occurs, the greater the effect on everything else it will have.

That’s what is puzzling about the tendency for fastpitch softball hitters to flatten out their bats at the start of their swings. I see it a lot with girls. The second they begin their swings, their first move with their hands is to lower the bat head until it is parallel with the ground, or nearly so.

That’s a terrible mistake. You need to maintain a roughly 45 degree angle on the bat as you begin to rotate into the ball. Otherwise it’s a pretty random chance that you will be able to get the head of the bat to the ball. Instead, you’ll enter a condition called “bat drag” which is just as bad as it sounds. You’ll be pulling the knob forward, but the bat will not be getting into the hitting zone. If it’s a low pitch it’s unlikely the hitter will be able to get to it.

If a hitter is striking out a lot, or hitting wimpy little ground balls, start by looking to see if she’s flattening her bat before launch. Help her maintain the proper angle and you’ll see a lot more well-hit balls.

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Some validation

Had a kind of fun experience over the weekend. My daughter attended a half-day pitching camp with Michele Smith and Cat Osterman at the local high school. During the camp, Michele explained the fundamentals of pitching, then she and Cat worked with the various pitchers to try to help them get to where they need to be.

Validation #1 was that what Michele said is what I teach. Not just mostly, but pretty much exactly. While I am confident in what I’m doing, especially with the results I’ve been able to help my students achieve, it’s still good to get that sort of reinforcement.

Validation #2 was what happened when Michele and Cat were walking around working with the girls. When they got to my daughter, neither of them wanted to change anything. Not one thing! Both said she looked very good and should keep doing what she was doing. In fact, the only change was a different grip on her curve ball, which got her pretty excited. She said it was breaking better than ever.

Of course, #2 is more a tribute to her than me. She did the work — I just pointed the way to it. But I was glad to see her get that kind of reinforcement from two pitchers who have achieved so much success.

By the way, Michele is an excellent instructor. Very friendly and approachable while being very knowledgeable. I’m not big on these one-day clinics, but if you’re looking for tweaks rather than learning from scratch, Michele’s is a good one.

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