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Fastpitch Softball Hitting Tips: Get Rid Of Timing Problems Once & For All

 

This is Part-1 of a 3-part fastpitch softball hitting tips (works well for baseball too) video series coming straight out of the Reaction Time Mastery online video course…

Softball Hitting Tips for Kids: Reaction Time Mastery

Sick of struggling to get your hitters on-time, balanced, and keeping high Ball Exit Speeds, especially while hitting off-speed and breaking pitches?  This online video course (7-modules total) reveals cutting edge science on the topics of: Vision, Tracking, Timing, and Forward Momentum.  Finally, you’ll be able to track pitches crystal clear, accelerate reaction time decision-making, & get ON-TIME without losing swing effectiveness with this “secret” online video course you can’t live without.

If you haven’t already, then CLICK the Link below to…

Get Access to The Reaction Time Mastery Online Video Course

 

In this fastpitch softball hitting tips video, we answer the following reader question:

“How to handle fear of pitcher throwing heat?”

We’ll discuss the following fastpitch softball hitting tips:

  • Goal is to keep swing tempo the same,
  • Adjust timing, DO NOT speed up swing tempo, and
  • Perry Husband’s Effective Velocity & Frank Robinson.

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Tips #1: Goal is to Keep Swing Tempo the Same

All human actions require tempo or cadence…

ca. February 2005 --- Ultramarathon Runner Dean Karnazes --- Image by © Patrik Giardino/Corbis Outline

ca. February 2005 — Ultramarathon Runner Dean Karnazes — Image by © Patrik Giardino/Corbis Outline

The magic for a long distance runner happens when they count their right hand swinging forward 85-90 times per minute. Whether running, up/downhill, or on flat ground.

Have you ever ran downhill sprints, gotten really fatigued, and took a spill?  This was because the body’s slower tired tempo couldn’t keep up with the speed required to stay on your feet.

Furthermore…

The magic for a cyclist happens when they count their right foot/pedal reaching its apex 85-90 times per minute, regardless of moving up/downhill, or on flat ground.

Do you know what they do to stay within that range when going uphill or downhill?

Correct,

They change gears.

And most of you know…

In swinging a bat, the hitter is LIMITED on the amount of time they have to decide and swing.  The hitter must process the following information, as quickly as possible, pitch:

  1. Type,
  2. Speed, and
  3. Location…

This can be real challenging for the brain.  If the hitter’s timing is behind, such as is the case with a pitcher that throws heat, the hitter’s brain will begin “cutting out” excessive movements to get the barrel to the ball.

Essential hitting mechanics I often see getting “cut out” when a hitter’s tempo is behind:

  • NOT landing short, resulting in poor use of Ground Reaction Forces,
  • Front shoulder flying open too early, resulting in NOT effectively pre-loading the springy fascia in the torso,
  • NOT striding, resulting in the absence of getting a ‘head start’ and swinging from a dead stop,
  • NOT staying short, resulting in a ‘taller’ swinger, positive launch angles (not good for driving the ball), and will consistently drive the ball into the ground (VERY unproductive to run production, evidenced in my ‘Ground-ball Rant’), and/or
  • Won’t allow for the natural NIKE-swoosh barrel path to unravel, resulting in using an ineffective hand path to the ball, shortening the time the barrel spends on the plane of the pitch.

And from there, compensations occur, and the hitter loses the ability to optimally transfer energy from body to barrel to ball.

So, even with pitchers that throw heat,

We have to keep a consistent swing tempo

So, in knowing that, what do we have to clean up?

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Tips #2: Adjust Timing, DO NOT Speed Up Swing Tempo 

My biggest fastpitch softball hitting tips advice when it comes to dominating a faster pitcher is to:

Brandon Moss homers off R.A. Dickey knuckle-ball

Brandon Moss homers on R.A. Dickey 76-mph knuckleball. Do you think he had to change his timing to do that? Photo courtesy: MLB.com

  • Start the swing sooner,
  • ‘Float’ less, or
  • A little of both.

And in the case of a slower pitcher, you’d reverse these elements:

  • Start swing later,
  • ‘Float longer, or
  • A combination of both.

You see, we want our hitter’s natural swing tempo, regardless of whether they’re facing a fast or slow pitcher.

What do I mean by when the swing starts?

I tell my hitters, their swing starts, as soon as they make the decision to pick up their front foot.

What about the ‘Float’?  What is it?

CLICK HERE for this other RANT post I did on that.  Scroll down to the section I sub-titled, “Baseball Hitting Drills for Youth #1: Using the ‘Float’”.

Also, CLICK HERE for this post showing a video of Jose Bautista, revealing what critical, but simple, change he made to his timing from the 2009 and 2010 seasons that has transformed him into the Joey Bats of today.

 

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Tips #3: Perry Husband’s Effective Velocity & Frank Robinson

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Tips: Effective Velocity

Perry Husband diagram demonstrating Effective Velocity and the hitter’s differences in ‘perceived’ velocity. Photo courtesy: HittingIsAGuess.com

When it comes to plate approach, fastpitch softball hitting tips that hitters at all levels MUST put into practice comes from Perry Husband’s Effective Velocity program.

He’s one of the experts I called on to contribute a couple videos to the Reaction Time Mastery online video course.

CLICK HERE for the interview I did with him on the blog.

Basically, Effective Velocity is about a hitter’s perceived pitch velocity.  For example, the radar gun registers a pitcher’s fastball velocity at 90-mph, down the middle of the plate…

However, if the same pitch is located inside or high in the strike zone, the hitter actually sees that ball faster, between THREE to SIX-mph faster.

And the reverse is true of the pitch locating outside or down in the zone.

My friend Taylor Gardner shared a conversation with me that his hitting mentor Matt Nokes had with Hall Of Famer Frank Robinson on his plate approach when facing pitchers that throw heat…

Frank Robinson said he was looking for the pitcher’s fastest pitch up and in, and adjusting to everything else.

Perry Husband did some work with Carlos Pena in 2009, talking about this very thing on the MLB Network:

Not saying this plan will work for everyone, but if you don’t have a plan, it’s a great place to start.

The Sooner You Know These Batting Timing Drills The BetterBatting Timing Drills

Take a guess at one of the biggest hitting frustrations is, according to my readers?

Timing!

Probably not a shocker because your hitters probably struggle with this as well.  Mine do!

I always tell my hitters, the most efficient mechanics in the world don’t mean a thing, if a hitter’s NOT working on being “on-time”.

In the survey, my readers asked if…

I use any batting timing drills with my hitters – that work?

Funny, because…

Last week, I was on a call with one of my online lesson dads from Southern California.  He said the difference in his son hitting the ball harder, with more consistency, has been because of how we cue one of the batting timing drills I’m about to share with you.

Before we get started…

I want you to note that the following two batting timing drills are rooted in science.  They follow the Principle of Variance (CLICK HERE for another post I did on that).

In this post, I want to share the:

  1. “Float” Variance Drill, AND
  2. Reaction Time Variance Drill.

CLICK HERE to watch this Carlos Pena video on how a hitter’s reaction time changes with pitch location.

 

“Float” Variance Drill

Basically, a “float” is a slight pause before falling forward.  Make sure you’re cueing “load slow and early”.  This is what helped my SoCal hitter from above.  CLICK HERE for this post referencing how Jose Bautista turned his swing around with the same cue.

We want the hitter to pick the stride foot up and shift their weight back.  Which means the back knee will have to track over the back toe – and not inside.  How far the back knee tracks depends on whether the hitters has a:

  • High leg kick,
  • Medium leg kick, or
  • Slide step/toe tap.

The higher the leg kick, the more the back knee tends to track over the toe.  The knee shifts inside the toe during the fall.  And this should be a natural move.  Most hitters cannot be “on-time” by just picking up the stride foot and falling forward.

And this is what would happen if the hitter focused solely on keeping the back knee inside the toe pre-stride foot lift.

If you don’t believe me, then do an experiment with the drill, and have your hitters note the difference in their quality of contact and control swinging the bat.

When to lift the stride foot to start the “float”, will get fleshed out in the next batting timing drill…

 

Reaction Time Variance Challenge

In the past, part of my timing training, was to tell my hitters to lift their stride foot at a specified point in the pitcher’s delivery.

Which is okay.

But now, my batting timing drills put more emphasis on trial-by-fire.  Let me put my hitter through an environment where they have to learn to calibrate their own timing.  I’m trying to melt them down mentally.  And they’re trying to keep me from melting them down.

In a game, the same thing happens.

In other words, this batting timing drill “takes care of business”, in a natural way.

Please post any other batting timing drills – like these – that are working for your hitters in the “Leave a Reply” section below (or share your testing on the drills I included)…

Batting Baseball FAQ on Tracking & Timing

Batting Baseball: Discover 4-Secrets To Tracking & Timing

Bob Gibson photo courtesy: BleacherReport.com

Thank you Dr. Mitchell Fung for your questions during our hitting session this week.  I also had a reader bring this up recently, so I figured the following Batting Baseball FAQ was worth doing (works for softball too):

  • Broad v. Fine Focus,
  • Fast v. Slow “Stuff”,
  • Fisherman OR Hunter? and
  • “Start slow and early”.

 

Broad v. Fine Focus

According to Wikipedia, Coach Bob Bennett retired with a 1,302-759-4 win-loss record. #26 was the first number ever retired by Fresno State. He was once president of the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) as well. He was inducted into the ABCA Hall of Fame and College Baseball Hall of Fame (2010).

I was lucky enough to learn batting baseball tips from Coach Bennett as a player for three years, and to have had multiple conversations over lunch, with him since.

When it comes to batting baseball vision and tracking, Coach Bennett talked about having Broad v. Fine Focus.  Broad Focus would be looking at a spot on the pitcher’s chest, overall physique, or delivery.  It’s basically a rest period for the eyes.

You see, the eyes are highly attracted to movement.  They LOVE to dart and “space out”.  And HATE to stop and stare at one object for any length of time.  Broad Focus is good until after the pitcher breaks his or her’s hands.

Then…

A hitter uses Fine Focus by shifting the eyes to the pitcher’s release point window.

 

Fast v. Slow “Stuff”

I tell my lower level batting baseball hitters to look for either fast or “slow stuff”.  95+% of the time, at the Little League level, hitters should be looking for fast stuff.  It’s rare getting a pitcher to throw slow stuff for consistent strikes.

I use the Batting Baseball Random Pitch Drill, where hitters:

  • Are to look for either fast OR slow stuff (they can’t tell me),
  • Have to stick to their “plan” through a 5-swing round (then evaluate after), and
  • Have to hold their “mechanical layers” together (whatever they’re working on).

CLICK HERE to read a Cal Poly baseball study as to why “massed practice” doesn’t develop good game hitters.  The Random Pitch Drill is geared for zero-or-one-strike counts.  Of course, with 2-strikes, the hitter has to cover ALL pitches.

 

Fisherman OR Hunter?

Baseball Batting: Hunter or Fisherman

Are you a fisherman OR a hunter? Photos courtesy: FloridaSportsman.com & Elllo.org

One of my friends and blog readers from Canada, Bob Hall, shared this batting baseball tip with me awhile back.

He took a “beast” of a hitter, his son Quin, to a showcase camp where a scout revealed a simplified hitting strategy.  You’re either a:

  1. Fisherman – throws bait out and waits for fish to bite, OR
  2. Hunter – that stalks their prey…

I tell my hitters, when the pitcher is wild, then be a fisherman.  When they’re throwing a lot of strikes, then become a hunter.  I work this in with my hitters during the Random Pitch Drill…somedays I’m wild OR am trying to bait them in biting on slow stuff (when I know they’re looking for fast), and in these cases, they become a fisherman.

 

“Start Slow & Early”

Batting Baseball: What Changed in Jose Bautista's Swing?

Photo courtesy: YouTube user Logue1022

This was the “magic pill” Jose Bautista swallowed (featured commentary in the video above) before the 2010 season.  It’s a batting baseball glimpse into explaining how he changed his swing.

I explain this to my hitters in this way…imagine an Olympic archer looking to use precision to hit the bullseye of a target.  He or she uses the bow string to load that arrow with potential energy.  They start slow and early.  Once the decision is made to release all that potential energy (the arrow/bow string), BOOM!  The arrow explodes to its target.

The batting baseball hitter needs to think about preparing their swing the same way.  Take it from Joey Bats, one of the smallest big hitters in baseball!