All kinds of sports require practice drills to help improve a player’s performance. That includes softball.
Softball is a popular bat and ball game played on a diamond-shaped ground, similar to baseball.
However, as similar as these games may look, there are plenty of things that differentiate them.
Some of the most noticeable differences include thinner and longer bats, the more massive ball size, and the smaller ground as compared to what baseball features.
Among all the differences, the length and shape of the bat in softball is a vital feature to understand. Softball hitters can improve their performance significantly if they know this difference and practice the right softball hitting drills.
Hitting Drills for Softball
To become a good softball hitter, a player must possess good power, body balance, right swing, speed, and stamina. Therefore, they need to do the proper hitting workout during practice. Given below are some of the most effective softball hitting drills that guarantee a player’s skills growth and performance improvement.
We all know that hitting a softball with just power is a tricky thing. Yet, the movement or swing needed to generate that much power is accessible. However, many softball hitters do not understand the importance of moving the hips and the body and only focus on running their wrists and shoulders. Such players show little improvement even after a hard practice.
The secret is within the body. The more swiftly your body moves, the more hitting power you can generate. Right body movement and steady hands are the answer to how to hit a softball with power. Therefore, this movement drill is designed to help hitters understand and get used to how their bodies should move while batting.
To start this drill, the player should hold the bat horizontally with both their hands, as if holding a baby. The bat should be placed at the upper chest while keeping the bat at the elbows, and not with wrists. Once the bat is placed firmly, the player should position herself as if receiving a pitch, and then perform a full-body swing as if hitting the ball.
Make sure to keep the legs firm and not lose balance. The players can start the drill with a slow speed to get used to the movement, and then gradually increase the power and speed of the swing.
There can be three progressions of this drill. In the first progression, the player should position herself, and then after each pitch gives a slight pause in the beginning. In the second progression, the player should begin the drill and increase the speed of the movement with little to no break between each swing.
In the third progression, the player should perform a full movement off the front toss. There can be a risk of losing balance while practicing the progression. Therefore, it is recommended that the hitter should practice this drill only after gaining a good understanding of hitting.
It is common to see softball hitters getting agitated on the field and making too early or too fast movements. Now, the thing to understand here is that it is almost impossible to not get agitated while playing and you cannot expect to be calm all the time. But all is well if the player does effective damage control.
So, the slow-fast drill is one of the most effective tee drills for softball that allows hitters to get used to the early agitation of the field. The drill begins with a softball placed on the tee and the hitter positioned to hit the ball. Now, from here, the player should start the swing at a slow pace, and then increase the power suddenly to hit the ball, as if exploding.
In this drill, the hitters should have a good focus and should start swinging the bat at a controlled and slow pace until they reach a good hitting position. Once they are at a comfortable launch position, they should increase their speed to complete the swing.
Since the drill involves a sudden increase in hitting power, it is also commonly referred to as the Slow-Explode drill. It is a very useful fast-pitch hitting drill and is known for improving the hitting skills of many softball players.
See-Saw Contact Drill
A good hitter knows how to best play the pitch thrown at her. They can do this because they have good barrel control, because of which they can decide the best way to hit the ball as it approaches. Additionally, having good barrel control can also improve your power, placement, and body control.
See-Saw contact is a power-hitting drill that is based on hitting the ball off the tee and solely focuses on improving the player’s barrel control. This drill also aims to improve the player’s hitting power and body position as well. Moreover, if you are looking for a hitting drill to keep the weight back, this drill is certainly a great option.
To start the drill, place the ball on the tee at a comfortable hitting height and let the player take the launching position. Now, let the player hit the ball off the tee and pause exactly at the point of contact. At this position, the player’s top and bottom elbows should be bent, and her palms should be rightly placed.
Doing this dedicatedly can significantly improve a player’s batting technique and performance. See-Saw contact drill not only improves barrel control but also allows players to gain an overall body balance after every hit. Additionally, this tee drill also serves as an excellent opportunity for softball players to try out new hitting techniques.
Repeat this batting drill multiple times during practice, but make sure not to overdo it. Extra practice sure can improve the skill, but pushing it too much can cause hip injury, or worse. Also, coaches and parents should make sure that their children are getting enough rest in-between each training period.
Extra Rotation Drill
One cannot stress enough the importance of rotation while batting. Softball hitters need to understand how far their body can rotate and the extra rotation drill is meant to figure out just that.
To do this drill, hitters should stand in the launch position and aim to perform a full swing hitting motion. However, the main focus of the players should be to finish the full swing motion with an exaggerated rotation and then pause. In the paused position, the player’s back should be facing the home plate without pulling her head.
This drill is also known as one of the best indoor hitting drills as players can practice this alone at home or anywhere. For hitters, this drill is a great practice to make them feel what a full rotation feels like.
However, practicing too much can be risky and can cause damage to the hip and shoulders. Proper rest is mandatory after each practice session. Also, coaches and family members need to make sure that players do not catch any bad habits while doing this drill.
The best exercise for softball hitting is the live drill. No amount of training or practice can match up to the live-hitting experience. Therefore, softball players must go through at least one live practice match before concluding the practice.
However, this live drill does not mean a live practice match. Instead, this drill focuses on improving the individual skill of the hitter by creating a live match scenario, i.e. with the help of a pitcher and catcher. It is recommended that the pitcher and catcher appointed for this drill have advanced softball skills so that the hitter can be better trained.
The drill usually begins with a simulation similar to that of a real match. Now, the pitcher will throw a variety of pitches, and the hitter will try to hit them all in the best possible way. Make sure the pitcher throws all types of balls possible, like fastballs, rise-balls, change-ups, and so on. The goal here is for the hitter to gain actual hitting experience.
You can also add gameplay objectives to this drill. For instance, the aim of the hitter can be to get 2 blunts in the next 3 pitches or perform 2 hits and runs in the next 3 pitches. This way, the hitter can get used to the real game environment and can gain a lot of confidence as well.
It is best recommended to use a live pitcher and catcher for this drill. However, if an actual pitcher is unavailable, you can always make use of a good softball pitching machine. Pitches from the machine are usually very accurate, which is why it is usually used in hitting drills for quick hands.
In any case, live drills are extremely useful and prove to be very effective in improving the player’s skill and performance. They also boost confidence and increase competition and interest among peers.
Benefits of Softball Hitting Drills
Practicing softball hitting drills can become monotonous and repetitive after a while. Due to this, players can lose focus and interest in the game. Therefore, it is crucial to adopt the right hitting tips for softball, and that can only happen with the right hitting practice.
Practicing the right softball hitting drills can help players improve their game focus, strength, speed, placement, and much more. Moreover, in a team, practicing softball drills can improve team chemistry, resulting in improving the overall performance of the team.
However, when it comes to just hitting, softball hitters need to improve their body balance, barrel control, swing motion, and hitting power to become good hitters. For that, it is not necessary to practice a lot, but practicing right might just do the job.
Every hitter should understand that improving the hitting skills of the player greatly contributes to the overall offensive of the team. Therefore, even hitting in softball is a team effort.
Softball hitters need the right practice to improve their hitting skills. Only repetitively swinging the bat will not yield any progressive result.
Instead, it will only cause player fatigue and loss of interest. Hence, a useful practice strategy needs to be designed so that softball hitters can practice right and develop the right hitting skills.
You should take the help of a radar gun to measure hitting speed. This way, you’ll get an idea if you’re making some progress or not.
Every hitting drill mentioned above in this article is well tested and guarantees player growth. There are also catching and pitching drills that can improve a player’s overall performance. However, make sure that no player practices too much and gets enough rest between the sessions.