How To Hit A Softball With Power: Modern Swing Science Vs Traditional Batting Myths

How To Hit A Softball With Power: Modern Swing Science Vs Traditional Batting Myths


How To Hit A Softball With Power: Modern Swing Science Vs Traditional Batting Myths

Ever wondered how to hit a softball with power that leaves spectators in awe? Dive deep into the fusion of modern swing science and time-honored batting techniques. This comprehensive guide unravels the secrets behind girl softball batting techniques, fastpitch softball hitting tips, and the revolutionary science swing drills suitable for youth and high school players.

While traditional wisdom, passed down through generations, has its merits, the advancements in swing drills and biomechanics are setting new standards. From mastering the best grip to hitting line drives consistently instead of ground balls, this article is your blueprint to blending the best of both worlds. Prepare to debunk myths, embrace cutting-edge insights, and elevate your game to newfound heights. 🥎

Science vs. Dogma: Debunking Hitting Myths Passed Down Through Generations

Hey fellow softball parents and coaches! Remember that well-intentioned advice that hitting guru #57 gave you? Well, let’s hit a homerun on some of those myths with a dash of modern science.

Introduction: The Collision of Tradition and Science

Old-school dogma: The game of whispers

Picture this: hitting guru #57, the legendary hitter of the 70s, passes on the “unquestionable” techniques. But, uh, ever tried retracing a story that’s been retold a bazillion times? Yep, it’s a distorted mess!  Distorted because the hitting cues used are generic, general, and vague.  Hitting guru #57 may tell you to question the hitting coach that teaches based on ball exit speed.  That’s red flag #1.  Red flag #2, which should signal a run for the hills, is being vague or cryptic in HIS or her teachings.

Science: The new player on the block

Along comes science, armed with slo-mo videos, data, and a little thing called logic.  What is science?  Should it be trusted without question?  NO.  Hitting guru #57 demands you listen to him WITHOUT question. If you don’t, then he attacks you.  Just like hitting guru #57, science MUST be questioned.  And this IS why he does not like science.  Science is positioned to EXPOSE him, and prove that his system is sub-optimal.  Why do you think hitting guru #57 is always wanting to get into social media fist fights?  For the same reason why the bully on the playground resorts to physical fights, bumping you in the halls, and provoking you for no reason… because he cannot compete against logic and reasoning.  He’s too emotional – ruled by the lizard part of his brain.  The irony is, his strength is his weakness.

Enough of hitting guru #57, for now.  Ready to get your mind-blown? Let’s slide into it!

The Classic Myths Busted Wide Open

Myth 1: “Swing down on the ball for backspin!”

Hold up! Let’s dissect.

The Biomechanics of a Swing

‘Swinging down’ sounds great, but it’s like trying to hammer a nail at a weird angle. Unproductive, right?  Well, IF we’re talking about ‘swinging down’ on a pitch middle down or middle away, then that analogy makes perfect sense.  But swinging down on a pitch middle up or middle in is actually productive because we’re either dealing with a flatter angled down pitch or having to make contact more out front which requires a tighter more compact swing.  In the latter case, levels swings = consistent hits. Science for the win!

Myth 2: “Stand tall and don’t dip your back shoulder!”

Seriously? Let’s debunk.

The Role of Leverage and Swing Path

‘Standing tall’ is a VAGUE coaching cue, and left up to self interpretation, the hitter loses.  Let’s translates what this cue signifies.  A coach is seeing a hitter who’s backside is collapsing causing him or her to pop the ball up, foul the ball back, or swing and miss too much.  Collapsing backside symptoms can be:

  1. Head roll: for a righty, the right side of the head rolls down towards the right shoulder while swinging.  Opposite for a lefty.  Where the head goes (down), the body follows.
  2. Racing back elbow: the hitter’s rear elbow racing passed the hands and belly button, which is the result of a deactivated and disconnected back half of the torso.
  3. Bat drag: the barrel casts back away from the hitter towards the catcher prematurely, which demonstrates a lack of barrel control.  Which hand is closer to the barrel?  The top hand.  The top hand isn’t doing its job in this case. Overload bat training can help with this – these are my favorites.

The ‘standing tall’ cue DOES NOT fix any of this.  Click the links in the corresponding bullet points for help on this.

As for ‘dipping the back shoulder’, this is normal and typical of a healthy swing.  However, what the coach is seeing, most likely, is one or more of the above bullet points.

Myth 3: “Eyes on the ball till you hit!”

Sounds legit, but there’s a twist.

Vision & Tracking Mechanics

A study debunking this was done back in the 80’s.  It’s humanly impossible for the best hitter in the world to see the ball hit the bat, UNLESS they’re hitting a 25-mph pitch.  OR, they’re using a saccadic shift with their eyes, which means if you split ball flight into thirds, the hitter sees the first third of ball flight, skips the second, then picks the ball back up at the third.  Ted Williams said he could do this on the “rare” occasion.  Most likely because he was doing a saccadic eye shift.

The Modern Science-backed Technique: “Showing Numbers to the Pitcher”

The Zepp Swing Study and its Revelations

Bam! 2015 saw a groundbreaking video which turned heads (or should I say, numbers?). A two-part experiment revealed some stunning findings:

  • Bat Speed at Impact: A whopping 6-mph average increase when showing numbers.
  • Hand Speed Max: A noticeable average 2-mph jump. Sweet!

Dr. Alan Nathan, a baseball Physics professor, underlines Bat Speed’s crucial role on Ball-Exit-Speed (BES). And guess what? Other similar swing experiments nod in agreement.

Addressing Critics’ Concerns

  1. Shifts Impact Point? Nah. Top MLB hitters are living proof against this. It’s the pelvis, my friend, not the shoulders.
  2. Loss of Ball Sight? Debunked! The “back eye” test is a classic counter-argument. We’ve got science-backed shade for naysayers.
  3. Hitting with Shoulders? The game has evolved! We’re talking about the synergy of the “Spinal Engine”. The spine’s segments have specific roles. Do the research.  Connect the dots.  Draw your own conclusions.

Mastering the “Show the Numbers” Wringing out a Towel Technique

  • Head is the boss: head anchors in a tracking position
  • Front shoulder moves under chin: pull the front shoulder as far in – under the chin – as you can without moving the head out of its tracking position (hitter shoulder feel pressure in the neck).
  • Hips stay neutral: imagine a kebob skewer going through both hip bones, making a parallel line to the plate.
  • Hold to landing: key is getting to “neck pressure” or “showing numbers” at stride landing.

Incorporate the technique, and voila, you’re in the major league consistent power territory. A glance at pros like Aaron Judge and Jose Altuve is all the validation you need. Remember, mix it up during practice for a holistic approach.

How Sabermetrics and Engineering Inform Softball Techniques

Data crunching and swing engineering? Oh, we’re in the future now. Outplay opponents with insights they haven’t even dreamt of, or have nightmares about! The reason hitting guru #57 is so negative about swing power techniques like “neck pressure” is because it’s demonstrably superior to their teaching dogmas.  Just hold a radar gun up to the completely opposite techniques.  Not a contest.  Look at the Zepp swing experiment link above.

What’s interesting about Sabermetrics is that it sheds light on this “up swing” trend.  People wonder why the high strikeout rates, way less hitting .300 per year now, and the power surge.  You may be quick to surmise that power equals high strikeouts and a lower batting average.  But it doesn’t have to.

Perry Husband uses an analogy of a speed boat (pitched ball) skimming across the water, and a torpedo (barrel attack angle) being fired from underneath.  You’d need great timing to hit the boat.  But what if you could fire the torpedo inline with the incoming speed boat?  An interesting FanGraphs article raises the question on barrel path…

Swing Planes and Predicting GB-FB Splits by Bradley Woodrum discusses the potential correlation between a batter’s swing plane and their performance against ground ball (GB) and fly ball (FB) pitchers. The article uses the instance of Willy Aybar’s success against Zack Greinke in 2009, highlighting Greinke’s ground ball tendencies and Aybar’s better performance against fly ball pitchers. The Tampa Bay Rays have been one of the few teams to exploit this GB-FB split, which is difficult for many teams to predict. Woodrum proposes a theory that a batter’s swing during practice can hint at their GB-FB splits. Batters with an uppercut swing are believed to succeed more against ground ball pitchers, while those with a more level plane do better against fly ball pitchers. Those who can adjust their swing plane might have less pronounced splits.

The article then dives into specific examples, using visuals and data to illustrate points. For instance, David Murphy’s pronounced uppercut swing led him to more success against GB pitchers. Similarly, Jason Heyward and Alex Gordon showed swing tendencies that aligned with their stats against certain types of pitchers. However, Michael Morse’s struggles against GB pitchers could be attributed to his swing angle, while A.J. Pierzynski’s follow-through debunked the assumption made from still images. The case of Chase Headley emphasized the importance of watching the swing in motion. Overall, Woodrum suggests that real-time observation can help in predicting a batter’s performance based on their swing type. The study, however, acknowledges limited data and emphasizes further research.

Now, why can’t a hitter change their barrel path based on the strengths of the pitcher?  Mine do!

The Marriage of Physics and Softball: The Perfect Match

Leverage, momentum, force. Sounds cool, right? Understand these, and you’re not just playing; you’re orchestrating a hitting masterpiece.  Again, hitting guru #57 comes in many forms:

  1. “I work with, or have worked with, [insert name of MLB hitter], that’s why you must listen to me.”
  2. “I’ve worked with tens of thousands of hitters in the cage, that’s why you must listen to me.”
  3. “I’ve coached for over 30 years, that’s why you must listen to me.”
  4. “I’ve played/coached/or am a scout in the Big Leagues, that’s why you must listen to me.”

I could go on, but the point is some of these folks DO NOT want to do – or want you to do – the research, connect the dots, and then draw conclusions.  A good friend of mine shared a quote that is perfect for this scenario:

“We are like books.  Most people only see our cover, the minority read only the introduction, many people believe the critics.  Few will know our content.” – Emile Zola

Digging into disciplines like Physics, Engineering, Biomechanics, and Sabermetrics is how we move the ball forward for our young hitters.  Fantastic hitting results should not take weeks, months, or years to experience.  My hitters experience immediate changes in their performance.  That’s what science does, old tired dogmas are NGMI (Not Gonna Make It) in the long run.

How To Navigate Conversations with the Old School Brigade

Some of what hitting guru #57 is good, it’s not all bad. But hey, drop a hint or two about the latest findings. Keep the chat light and fun. Maybe even show him your numbers!

Conclusion: Balancing Respect for Tradition with Modern Understanding

Tradition is the soul, science is the brain. Blend both, and you’ve got magic on the field.  Look, ‘swinging down’ does work, so does ‘swinging up’, but it depends on the circumstances.  ‘Standing tall’, ‘sitting back’, ‘keep your eye on the ball’…all can have their place.  But shouting these out without explaining context can be dangerous to a young hitter looking to play out their dreams on the field.


  1. How relevant is Bat Speed?  Huge! It directly affects Ball-Exit-Speed, which is key for building consistent power.
  2. Is ‘showing numbers’ a gimmick?  Nope. With scientific backing and MLB players’ adoption, it’s legit.
  3. Can sabermetrics help a beginner?  Absolutely! It provides insights that can fast-track your progress.
  4. Why blend physics and softball?  To elevate your game. Master the science, master the sport.
  5. Should I abandon all traditional techniques?  No. It’s about taking the best from both worlds. Blend and conquer!

So, gear up, show those numbers, and remember, it’s not just about hitting the ball; it’s about hitting it with style and science! 🥎

Joey Myers
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