Same Glove, Same Shoes, Different Game
Making the shift from baseball to fast pitch softball may not seem like much. The ball is bigger. The field is smaller. They throw underhanded. Seriously, where’s the challenge? Before you overconfidently lace up the spikes and grab a bat, keep in mind a few things: The ball is bigger. The field is smaller, and they whip it underhanded. Gordon Eakin, head softball coach at BYU, has some advice for a smooth transition:
1. Shorten your swing.
There’s no time for excess movement. The ball comes in quickly and can rise, so you have to get your hands and bat into the hitting zone as fast as possible. Rather than stand tall and straight up, think more middle linebacker in the box. Widen your stance a little, put more weight on your back leg, flex your knees and bend at the waist, leaning over to the plate. Load up your hands, use your back leg to push off and drive into the ball. For the best example of a short, compact swing, watch the St. Louis Cardinals’ slugger Albert Pujols.
2. Attack the ball.
When playing the infield, waiting or taking a step back equals a base hit. The runners are just as quick and the base paths are shorter than in baseball. Be particularly awake with left-handed hitters who love to slap the ball the opposite way. You need to play in closer and get rid of the ball. “It’s a do or die play,” Eakin says. The shorter distances and speed also mean that you’re going to be making a lot of wrong-footed throws. Stay low to the ground, deliver with a submarine style and move through the throw. And practice playing catch from all different angles. Along with becoming used to the size of the ball, repetition will bring comfort.
3. Attack the bases.
Games are won from putting pressure on the defense and forcing mistakes. With a hit to the outfield, immediately think about making it a double. You have the advantage with the short base paths, and the balls don’t travel as quickly as in baseball, making it harder to gun down a runner.
About The Author
Steve Calechman – Steve Calechman is a contributing writer for CorePerformance.com. He has published articles for Men's Health, Natural Health, The Robb Report and Women's Health magazine.