Daily Archives: December 2, 2010

Helping slappers learn to stay in on the plate

Converting a right-handed hitter into a lefty slapper has any number of challenges — not the least of which is it’s awkward as all get-out. To get some small measure of just how tough it is to make that move, take one day and do everything with your opposite hand — eat, write, deal cards, whatever.

Now picture that in addition to those things you’re doing them while moving, and while whatever it is you’re trying to do is moving too. Hey, hitting is tough enough. But doing it opposite-handed while running toward the pitcher? That’s just nuts.

Yet it can be worth all the effort, because a girl who can put the ball in play and get up the line fast enough to put pressure on the defense is highly valuable. After all, as Coach Candrea says, speed never has a slump.

So yes, there are lots of good reasons to do it. But it takes a lot more than just moving the hitter across the plate and saying “watch how Natasha Watley does it.”

One of the toughest parts is learning to keep the shoulders closed toward the plate so the hitter can drive the ball toward the left side of the infield. That’s important, of course, to make the throw take longer and give the hitter the best chance of getting on base. But after taking the crossover step, especially for a righty that is being converted over, it’s very natural to turn the shoulders along with the hips as shown in the first video. When that happens, the hitter is far more likely to pull the ball to the right or hit it back at the pitcher than to drive it to the left.

You can tell her to keep her shoulders in, but that’s easier said than done. So here’s a more specific instruction. Tell her that as her left foot crosses over her right, she should pull her left shoulder back. When that occurs (as seen in the second video clip) the shoulders stay closed and she’s in a good position to slap.

It’s simple, but it works!

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