How to Hit a Baseball (or Softball) Further
O.K. folks, I played quite a bit of organized baseball as a youngster, and am involved in a few slow pitch softball games every summer nowadays. When I was in about 7th grade, our coach had us hitting those golf ball sized wiffle balls with a fungo bat, and it is I believe the best teaching tool for a hitter to find the sweet spot. Why is this? Because the sweet spot is in the center of the bat always, and if you are hitting a golf ball sized target with a fungo bat consistently then you can be sure that when you go to hit a softball in a game it is going to look like a watermelon in comparison. Use this technique and YOU WILL drive the ball further and may even hit your first home run. Though in my baseball days we practiced a variation of this drill with fungo bats, I have found that a thin broomstick is even better to use, as it is makes the ball that much harder to it. At first this exercise is frustrating and you may only hit 1 out of 10 balls. Like anything, with a little practice you will slowly improve and be hitting 8 out of 10 in no time. Once you do practice this a few times, you will never be intimidated by a softball again. I had a buddy try this method before a game about halfway through the season, and after we had about 5 of these sessions his hitting improved enough to hit his first home run.
Here is what you need to buy or have:
1. Buy a cheap broom and cut the sweeper end off square leaving you with just a stick, or if you have a broom in your garage that can be twisted off its base, even better-use that. I would not recommend anything thicker than a clothes hanger rod-average broomstick thickness works best.
2. Buy a 6 pack (or two) of dense foam practice golf balls; (most sporting goods/golf stores should carry them). If they don't have those buy wiffle golf balls as a last resort (they damage and cave in easy-I don't recommend).
Here are the Steps:
1. Have a partner toss the balls to you at a distance where the balls will be able to carry straight with some consistency, or at least arc in motion mimicking a softball pitch if tossed underhand-probably 10-15 feet. I realize this is a shorter distance then in softball, but it does not matter. Your focus should be on making contact with the ball with a level swing and nothing else. You know if you are hitting pop ups or grounders, your swing is either off level to the north, or south; respectively. Work on developing a swing that has the balls being whizzed back towards the pitchers face or slightly above, assuming he is 6 feet tall (if Verne Troyer is your pitcher, then use common sense). Have the pitcher wear a pair of shades, in case they have bad reactions or just as a precaution.
2. When hitting the balls realize there will be more balls than strikes, so don't compromise your stance to swing wildly at the many pitches that will move noticeably when touched by wind. Swing as if you would swing in a game.
3. You will learn soon that control is more important then power when swinging a bat, and that the more power you use, the more likely that your mechanics will start to deteriorate. That is one of the many reasons why this drill is so great-the margin of error is so small that if you swing as hard as you can, you will very rarely ever hit a fair ball. You are forced to maintain proper form and stance throughout the swing to hit the tiny balls square.
4. After a few sessions, you can mark the longest ball hit, then use that as a home run gauge for future swings.
5. Once you can hit at least 5 in a row, you have progressed above the level of rookie.
6. This is a great drill to do right before a softball game-watch what happens!
7. Even if you don't play softball, it is a GREAT cross trainer for any sport as it heightens the hand/eye coordination and concentration level as well as any exercise I can think of.
8. All you need is a broomstick a few foam practice golf balls and a little bit of lawn, (or you can hit the balls against a wall).
9. Practice makes perfect.