Front toss an effective training tool

Ok, that may not seem like a big revelation at first. But there’s more to it. Bear with me.

During the off-season, we worked with our hitters in small groups in the batting cage. We worked a lot off the tee to build swing mechanics and try to correct major problems. Then we would finish with front toss, using real balls. The distance was roughly 8-12 feet. I would throw using a windmill motion, then duck behind a protective screen as fast as I could. Mostly I got behind it, although Jessica nailed me in the shin once and it still hurts when I kneel down. But I digress.

Anyway, as the HS season started, most of our girls did pretty well. But the further they got away from it, the less effective they became as hitters. When we finally got them back for the summer we again used front toss as a main form of hitting practice and the hitting went up. We haven’t done it much lately and noticed a drop, so last Thursday it was back to the batting cage for some front toss.

It may have been coincidence, but this weekend we hit .300+ as a team en route to a tournament championship, with lots of doubles and even a few triples on fields with a 200 foot fence. No one went yard, but several came close. Two of the opposing coaches commented on how well our team hit. Not so much because our first five hitters did it, but because we did it all the way through the lineup.

There are a lot of factors involved, of course. But it seemed like that front toss practice, time consuming as it was, made a huge difference for us. I’d highly recommend it to get the timing, and the feeling of hitting real balls. And if you’re quick enough, you can even correct some major flaws as you duck behind the screen!

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About Ken Krause

Ken Krause has been coaching girls fastpitch softball for nearly 20 years. Some may know him as a contributing columnist to Softball Magazine, where he writes Krause's Korner -- a regular column sponsored by Louisville Slugger. Ken is also the Administrator of the Discuss Fastpitch Forum, the most popular fastpitch discussion forum on the Internet. He is currently a Three Star Master Coach with the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), and is certified by both the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) and American Sports Education Program (ASEP). Ken is a private instructor specializing in pitchers, hitters, and catchers. He teaches at North Shore Baseball Academy in Libertyville, IL and Pro-Player Consultants in McHenry, IL.

Posted on July 1, 2008, in Hitting. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I must say, I took over a team that was completely dismantled by the previous coach who took the 5 best players and money and went across town to build an “elite” team. We were left with 6 players and not a whole lot of other players left in the area to choose from – we took what we could get. Our team could never hit even though the person who left was supposed to be a hitting guru. I remembered this article and started there. I focused on nothing more than getting the girls swinging using front toss. Nothing fancy – just pitching and getting them to swing aggressively at good pitches – some of their swings were horrible. I did that for about 3 weeks. I made very little adjustments to their swings, just focused on swinging hard at good pitches. Eventually we got in our first tournament as a new team, faced that cross town “elite” team twice in one weekend – and hitting was our strong point all weekend. We spanked them hard both games. The very next weekend, we faced them again with the same result. Needless to say, it is part of our practice routine – and the girls love it. I have 4 girls that have hit the ball out of the park during practice, 1 that hit it over in a game, and 2 that have hit the fence. More importantly, all of them are hitting good pitches hard. Thanks for the article. We are starting to focus on true hitting mechanics now, no big changes, just little adjustments here and there.

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  2. Coach Bill,I love stories like that. Especially where you took a team of so-called leftovers and were able to kick the butt of the alleged “elite” team. There’s more to be an elite team than calling yourself one. I know plenty of examples of those types, some pretty close to home. Also glad that the article was of help, obviously. If nothing else it gave your girls the feel of attacking the ball. I’m a big believer in good mechanics, but it’s true there are no style points in hitting. It’s all about hitting the ball hard. Good mechanics will help you do it more consistently, but they’re not the be-all and end-all either. Keep those stories comin’!Ken

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