“I was such a dangerous hitter, I even got intentional walks in batting practice”
This was probably the first quotes that I read as an amateur. Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron were automatically on the list of admired people (legends to precise) and their posters were the first to look for, before any match. Reading their records and watching the MLB matches was a favourite pass time during the 90’s. Even when, kids around me were glued to only cricket, I also found my moment of excitement in the homers of Barry Bond or the amazing saves by Derek Jeter (and even the amazing dunks of Michael Jordan + the legendary game of Sachin Tendulkar + the victory lap of Michael Schumacher, etc….). I always imagined myself walking into the batter deck with the pitcher perspiring just by the sight of me. I believed every time I walk in, the pitcher should atleast think about the above phrase once! Well, I even aimed for making this dream come true and strived for perfection as well.
These might have been similar sequence of events for many. Everyone learns a new thing and desires to be amongst the best, right?
Baseball/Softball is a game of hand-eye coordination and immense physical & mental application. There are various attributes to any sport but I feel when the brain starts working along with instinct, that’s a killer combo. Hitting is natural to some batters but many have to really strive to get the ball to even nick their slugger. This blog is amongst the series of blog for tips and tricks for Softball starters and also for those who wish to tweak their skills a bit and achieve that extra thing (the earlier one was on batting line up). Batters only succeed when they hit the pitch in the direction of the pitch or the ‘V’. Anything apart from that is just a power game which has a higher probability of failure.
When I started Softball, around 1994-95 we practised with a bamboo stick, then a wooden bat (one amongst all 15, sometimes even 30 players) until we got the aluminium slugger. I still remember we never worried about how to stand in the batter deck nor did we worry about where the pitcher is going to pitch and stuff! The game is no longer so simple these days. The way you stand in the batter deck or even hold the slugger will tell the pitcher which pitch would be difficult for you to hit. It takes a hell lot of practice to deceive a good pitcher by playing tactics in the batter deck. Batter deck is a cleverly defined space which can give you enough mobility to move around and leverage the speed and swing of the ball. If you do not make use of that, you are risking a safe hit and ultimately a win for your team. We will come to leveraging the batter deck in the coming blogs but for now lets see how we can improve the batting stance.
Tips and Tricks on how to improve your batting stance
- Hold the slugger’s handle with both the hands and keep the slugger at the center of the home plate (this will allow you to have contact with any pitch that cuts the home plate)
- Keep the slugger at the center of the home plate and move ahead of the home plate (in the same line) in case the pitcher is too slow for your swing or is swinging the ball in any direction (this will help you to hit the ball before the swing)
- Keep the slugger at the center of the home plate and move behind the home plate (in the same line) when the pitcher is too fast for your swing or you need to hit a tap shot
- Hold the slugger at the bottom for transferring maximum energy into the ball
- Hold the slugger a fist above to hit a tap shot (make sure to swing completely)
- Do not commit to any shot (bunt or hit) before the pitcher starts his pitching action
- Keep both the legs in the same direction as the pitcher (keeping the leg(s) towards the 2nd base or shortstop indicates a shot in that direction which the pitcher can counter by pitching in the opposite direction)
- Hold the slugger high and aim to watch the ball when it hits your slugger (even a minimum swing with a firm grip and right timing results in a good shot)
- Do not rest the bat on your shoulders but hold it up at an angle so that it is exactly halfway between being vertical and horizontal (you won’t be comfortable if it’s directly pointing towards the sky)
- A bunt is the most special weapon in the batter’s artillery. There are many types of bunts viz. pivot bunt, square bunt, sacrifice bunt and even a push bunt. Bunt in the direction of 3rd base when there is a runner on 2nd base and bunt in the direction of 1st base when runner is there on 1st base.
I know there are multiple videos on how to improve the batting stance and even techniques of using the bunt, line drive and sacrifice hits but this list should give a good insight for the teams starting to play Softball or introspecting their past performances for this year. My academy, (AAYS Softball Academy, India) is committed to help all upcoming teams in Softball and has been serving this game ever since its inception in Pune for the past 4 to 5 decades. We are also celebrating the 10th year of Level 1 of Amit Joshi Memorial Softball Tournament this year. Do share your views about the blog and make sure to visit/participate in the tournament (It’s considered one of the best tournaments held in India for Softball).