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Travel Softball Team Hitting

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  • Travel Softball Team Hitting

    We had our first team practice with the 12U girls travel team this weekend. One thing that stood out to me is that although they were all hitting the ball, I'd say 80% of them were swinging with their arms only. Many of them kept the back heel down and did not rotate the hips.

    My question is to what extent is it worth it to try to improve their swing mechanics when you only have them for a short season. I'm concerned that by tinkering, I may set them back a bit while they get comfortable with the adjustments. On the other hand, if I don't do anything, they may make contact using the swing they are used to, but won't hit it very hard and they'll be grounding out a lot to the infielders.


  • #2
    If this is a travel team I assume that from year to year this will be the team they play on? Potentially? If so how will they ever get better if you don't start now? However I feel your pain and know that many players go downhill for a short while when doing something new before they get used to it. We could cry about nobody teaching them before they got to 12U but that's not the point.

    I say when you have practices you have a few stations that emphasise the overall problems you are seeing and expect incremental changes over the course of the season. If you insisted on them doing it different from day one then that is unrealistic and would get them thinking about too much while at the plate in games. But if you drill drill drill then the muscle memory starts to kick in.

    The last thing you want to happen is that they become 13U players and have the same problem as they do in 12U. Then 14U, etc. Encourage them all to work on this in the off-season. If you know what girls are going to be on the team next year start earlier and do only hitting if that is the time you have. Then you can work on those mechanics.

    To sum up: Create several drills and do them each practice. Expect slow progress. Maybe show them clips of college or Olympic doing it right in addition to your instruction.


    • #3
      Although I have some kids from last year (at U10), about half the team are kids I haven't worked with before. I like the idea of stations, that worked well for me last summer.


      • #4
        Tough situation.

        You don't want to set the girls back (and maybe lose some games) by altering ther mechanics. Unfortunately neither did their previous (short term) coach and their next (short term) coach probably won't want to either.

        I guess the question is this: Do you want to send the girls into next season as better ball players than they are today - even if they are no longer playing for you? I would hope that at the 12U level that would be every coach's goal. I know it's not and for some it's "win today" at all costs.

        A friend of mine (coach/umpire/league commisioner) reminds all the coaches that he comes in contact with that "You may be the only bible that some of these girls read."

        It's our obligation, especially at the younger levels, to teach them the right way to do things on the field and hope it translates into the right things in life. By teaching them the right way to bat, while reminding them that it might set them back for a short term, you'll be teaching them the value of sacrifice and hard work - even if it hurts for while.

        In the end, they'll be better players and hopefully better people when you send them into the next season.


        • #5
          If you do decide to help the girls fix some of the issues that they have, bring the parents together and tell them what you are going to do. Let them know that you feel it is your duty to prepare these girls for next year and for when they tryout in HS, when cuts occur. When I coach not only do I help the kids for this year but I start to introduce them to things for the next year and the future. For example when my daughter was young there was no taking extra bases on a hit. I would still have the girls listen to the 3rd base coach, round the base and find the ball if the play was not to them or in too close to them. Totally not necessary at that layer but it got them used to the concepts they would be expected to use the next year.


          • #6
            My question is to what extent is it worth it to try to improve their swing mechanics when you only have them for a short season.

            Most hitters won't improve just from team practice. They need to swing every day on their own. My kids can still hear the ringing in their head (from me), "Hitting is an every day thing."

            You teach them what to do. Then you tell them they need to do tee work on their own. They will need a tee. They don't need a net. They only need whiffle balls.
            Last edited by TG Coach; 05-19-2008, 05:22 PM. Reason: typo


            • #7
              Agreed. If they and their parents don't take a personal interest in improving there is only so much a coach can do.


              • #8
                Last year we did a lot of hitting stations and they all improved except for one girl who started the season with a big knuckles lined up death grip on the bat. I suggested she change her grip to get more bat speed, but she never hit as well that season after that. I think that made me a bit gun-shy to mess with their swings, but in retrospect I should have made the connection that she just felt more comfortable with her old grip.

                Thanks for the feedback. Let me know if you have a specific approach that has worked for you or if you know of any pitfalls. I'm definitely going to do it, I agree most coaches do not take the time to do individual instruction and the kids go year to year without learning correct technique.


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