Explosive. Dynamic. Ballistic. These are all words that are used to describe the way the body should move in fastpitch softball.
Pitchers are told to explode off the rubber and to make the arm whip a ballistic move. Hitters are told to explode their hips and then let the bat explode through the ball. Fielders are told to make a dynamic move laterally to get to the ball.
That’s all well and good, and those are great words to describe the types of movement that are involved. If you’re an adult.
If you’re a kid, especially a younger player, those big words may not mean as much. They know they’re supposed to explode, but they don’t exactly know what that looks like.
That’s where it’s important to relate what you want to something that’s already within their experience. Particularly if it’s something visual.
When you’re talking about explosion, a balloon makes a handy prop.
Blow up the balloon, and first let the air back out slowly. You can relate it to how they’re moving now.
Then pull out a pin and pop the balloon. Tell them that is what explosion looks like.
(This is particularly fun if you have kids on your team who look like they’re aliens searching the skies for the mother ship when you’re talking to them. It will definitely get their attention, and encourage them to watch you more closely from now.)
The key here is showing how quickly and suddenly the balloon goes from being inflated to being gone. One quick poke with the pin and it’s no longer there.
If you don’t have a balloon and a pin handy, another way to explain it is to talk about how you would try to scare a sibling by jumping out at him or her.
If you just walk out in front of them, they’re unlikely to be scared. Annoyed, perhaps, but not scared.
But if you pop up from behind a door, or a couch, or something else that keeps you hidden from sight until the sibling enters the room (like a jump scare in a cheesy ’80s horror movie), you can get them to jump and maybe even drop that bowl of cornflakes they just got finished preparing. Just be ready to run afterwards.
It’s easy for fastpitch softball players to get so caught up in trying to do things the right way mechanically that they become, well, mechanical. They move slowly and deliberately, which might look good on a slow motion video but doesn’t do much for helping them generate power.
Giving them the balloon or jump scare demonstration will help them understand better what you’re looking for, and more importantly what will help them produce better results.
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