A way to explain the power zone in hitting
Earlier today I was working with a 12U player named Sydney on softball hitting. She’s a lot of fun to work with because she’s very intense and focused, and really tries to absorb everything we’re working on.
As I was throwing front toss to her, I could see she was ahead of a lot of the pitches. I tried to explain the importance of timing to her, how she wasn’t hitting the ball as hard as she could because her bat was already slowing down by the time she hit the ball.
Part of that explanation was drawing a bell curve, with the optimum spot to hit the ball being at the top of the curve. I showed how if you’re too early, or too late you’re further down the curve, and thus have less power. It made sense to me, and Sydney dutifully nodded her head as I said it. But I doubt it really made much of an impression, or much sense to her.
As I walked back out behind the screen I had a sudden inspiration. I told her to imagine a banana. I asked her what the best color is to eat a banana. The answer was yellow, of course. I then told her that swinging too early was like the banana being green, and swinging too late was like the banana being brown. That seemed to help her visualize it better, and she started hitting the ball harder.
A banana is something pretty much everyone can relate to. We’ve all seen them green, yellow and brown (disgusting). It helps players visualize time, or rather doing things at the right time.
As a postscript to this story, when I asked Sydney whether the banana analogy helped, she informed me that she doesn’t really like bananas. So while I worked with her we changed it to strawberries – green for early, red for right/ripe, and brown for late. That worked better for her personally.
If you have a hitter who’s having trouble with the concept of timing, give this one a try. And let us know what explanations you’ve used to help hitters understand the importance of getting the bat to the right place at the right time for maximum power.