One of the greatest challenges fastpitch hitters face is understanding how to time the various stages of their swings.
Some will tend to rush the entire swing, especially if they are concerned about the pitcher’s speed. As a result, they never build a rhythm and while they may make contact it won’t be good, solid contact.
Some will be lethargic throughout. Those hitters are never going to get to the ball on time and will be easily overpowered even by mediocre pitchers.
And some with just be unmade beds, with no rhyme or reason to what they’re doing at all. It hurts just to watch them.
Now, you can talk all you want about proper timing and having proprioception (body awareness for those about to do a Google search) but often that conversation goes has little meaning to players. These habits are often ingrained, so you need to find a way to explain what’s needed in a way hitters can understand.
That’s where the concept of Sunday morning v. Monday morning comes in. It’s an analogy pretty much anyone I’ve worked with on hitting will recognize.
The reason I use it a lot is that it works. It gives hitters a frame of reference for how their bodies should move that they can understand.
I will start by asking them what Sunday morning is like, at least on a non-tournament morning. The answer I usually get is slow and easy, relaxed, laid back.
Many (most?) people like to sleep in a little later than usual on Sunday mornings – even the church goers. They take their time getting ready and getting out into the day.
Then I ask them what Monday morning is like. The words they use to describe it are things like rushed, frantic, panicked, or hurried.
They have to get up, get cleaned up and dressed, find their homework, pack a lunch or get lunch money, get to the bus or the car pool or start riding their bikes or walking. Most people on Monday morning don’t leave enough time for these activities so it’s always a race to get them done.
And that’s how the swing goes.
The phase from load to toe touch is Sunday morning. It’s relaxed, slow and easy.
You want to get your weight/center of gravity moving forward and your body prepared to swing, but it’s not the actual swing itself. The key point here is moving in a way that your front foot gets down on time.
Once the heel drops it’s Monday morning. The jets turn on and everything is high-energy. Not out of control, but fast and powerful nonetheless.
Following this Sunday morning/Monday morning process enables hitters to get to where they need to be on time so they can deliver the bat with maximum power, efficiency, and control.
Of course, as a coach you can’t always use the same analogy for everyone. For example, in some households it’s chaos all the time so the players might not see a difference between Sunday and Monday morning.
In that case, you can tell them that the prep phase is like smooth jazz – cool, laid back, relaxed – and the actual swing phase is heavy metal. Even if they are a fan of neither they will get what you’re saying.
Or you can tell them the prep phase is like the start of the Indy 500 where the pace car leads the way, and the swing phase is like the rest, where the drivers dart in and out like maniacs at 200 mph. Whatever it takes.
The point is you need to find some way of helping them understand what should be slow, and how it should feel, as well as what should happen when it’s time to put the hammer down.
Ge them to understand that and you’ll find your hitters are making better, more consistent contact with every at bat. Almost regardless of the quality of the pitching.
So how do you explain this concept to your hitters? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Bed photo by Ksenia Chernaya on Pexels.com
Sax player photo by Victor Freitas on Pexels.com