Getting hitters started on time

Getting hitters started on time is often a challenge. You work, and work, and work on developing proper hitting mechanics. You hit off the tee, soft toss, front toss and everything else you can think of. Fastpitch hitters should be deciding whether to stop instead of whether to start.

Then the next game comes along and it seems like it all falls apart. That hitter that was bombing balls in practice stands there frozen at the plate until the ball is on top of her, then quickly executes what I can only call a “panic swing” – one that says “Oh crap, I better swing.”

There can be reasons for it, although most tend to lead back to fear of making a mistake. So the hitter waits and waits and waits, then realizes she ought to be swinging. At which point it’s too late to hit the ball well.

One long-standing way of attempting to overcome this was of thinking is to say you should be thinking “Yes, yes yes” and then either yes or no. In other words plan on swinging until you see otherwise.

Another common way of expressing it is the pitch is a strike until you see otherwise. In other words, plan on it being good, and then hold up if it’s not.

Here’s a little different way of approaching it. When the hitter is taking too long to decide, she is essentially trying to determine if she should start her swing. Of course, by the time she starts it she is already too late. So tell her she shouldn’t be thinking about whether to start the swing. She should start it every time, and then while she is in her swing decide whether to continue or stop.

If the hitter is using good mechanics, i.e., starting the swing with her hips, followed by her shoulders and then her bat, she’ll have plenty of time to hold up before committing the bat to the swing. In the meantime, she has her body in motion, developing power and preparing to apply it to the ball. Her eyes are also gathering information about the speed, location and spin of the ball, helping her to decide whether to take the swing.

So if she’s started her swing, the only thought should be whether to stop if the pitch is a bad one.

Give it a try, and let me know if it works for your hitters.

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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 September 18, 2016, in Hitting, Mental game and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Nice article Ken,
    I agree 100%. One of my favorite verbal ques to add to the piece is saying “every pitch is perfect til it aint”… I know that’s not correct gramer, but it rolls off the tongue easily, and most importantly the kids understand its meaning very quickly. Don’t be a statue in the box. Be fluid and rhythmic. When the pitcher is moving, you’re moving. Assume the the approaching pitch is perfect. So you’d better be loading up and getting ready to smash that ball. If the pitch isn’t good….STOP. It really is that simple.

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  2. Thanks, James. That’s a great add to the list.

    I agree the hitter needs to be moving with the pitcher. I’ve actually done the vaudeville “mirror routine” with a couple of girls just to get that point across. Standing there like a statue until the ball is on top of you rarely works out well.

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  3. Wow! This sounds just like me! I always do so good at the practices but when it comes to games i just get so nervous that i get stressed and I don’t hit the ball very well. Maybe reading this will help me just to relax and just put my mind to it.

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  4. Hope it does help, Kielea. One other thing to do is to forget about the outcomes (whether you will get a hit or not) and just focus on trying to hit the ball hard somewhere. Thinking about outcomes can make you uptight and hesitant. You want to do well for your team, your coach, your parents, etc. so you get all nervous and stark freaking out.

    Take that pressure off by forgetting about that part and just going for the hit. If you smash it and someone catches it that’s unlucky but you still did your job. If you dink it and get on base it looks like a line drive in the scorebook. But if you keep focusing on hitting it hard, some of them will get through. You only need 3 out of 10 to get through to be a star!

    Good luck.

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