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Softball Excellence Tip of the Month

posted Jan 11, 2013, 8:43 PM by Kerry Maher
Cindy Bristow
Softball Excellence Tip of the Month

Pitching – The Screwball
For anyone who has a pitcher whose screwball either isn’t breaking enough, or else it’s acting more like a riseball, try this.

Have her enter the release point with her thumb facing forward. This will really help ensure her hand is in the proper position to complete the snap properly by keeping her hand inside the ball at the release point – which simply means she will keep her hand between her body and the ball throughout the release point.

Too many pitchers enter the screwball with their thumbs sideways which really limits the amount of twist and therefore, spin and movement the pitcher can get on the ball.

Coaching Tip from NASA
Coaching requires a lot of quick thinking and creativity. When faced with a problem sometimes simply stepping back and getting a different perspective will allow you to find a better solution. There is a great a great fable about how two different countries solved the issue of writing notes while in space.

The tale goes like this….When NASA first started sending astronauts into space they quickly discovered that ball-point pens would not work in zero gravity. To combat this problem, NASA scientists spent a decade and over $12 billion developing a pen that would write in zero gravity, upside down, on almost any surface including glass, and at temperatures ranging from below freezing to over 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Russians simply used a pencil.

There are always multiple ways to solve a problem.

Range on a backhand
If your players are struggling making the backhand play have them try angling back slightly on their approach to give them more time for the hard hit balls to the backhand side. This prevents the ball from getting past the fielder before she can get into position.

Throwing Accuracy Tip
To help your players be much more accurate with their throws teach your players to always point the instep of their throwing-side foot (right foot for righthanded throwers and left foot for lefthanded throwers) at their target as they begin to throw. This really makes it easier for the thrower’s hips and shoulders to turn allowing the ball to stay in line to the target.

Baserunning – When to Run & When to Hold
Knowing when to run and when to hold up is an important skill when running bases. To help your players better know when to run to the next base, either on their lead-offs or on extra base hits, try these simple but very effective tips:

When to Lead Off – have your runners leave the base when the heel of the pitcher’s pivot foot leaves the ground.
When to Run on Balls Hit to Outfield – if the outfielder turns her back and runs then the baserunner runs (without tagging up)!

Better Bunting
To help your bunters keep from bunting the ball too hard or else pushing the bottom of the ball and popping up, try this. Teach your players to Reach Early and Catch Late. This means when your player turns into her bunting position (whatever type of bunt she’s doing), she’ll reach Out with her hands and the bat early and then catch, or give with the ball, late.

This helps her soften the bunt. What most bunters do is just the opposite. They bunt early, meaning they have their hands and the bat in close to their body when they first turn to bunt, and then catch late, meaning they try to get soft at the very last minute. Reverse the two by reaching early and catching Late and watch your bunting success improve!

Double Play Practice
The first out of a double play is THE most important out! To help make sure your players execute more successful double plays have your players practice feeding the ball at an upward angle toward the player that’s receiving the ball so she can make the catch and throw faster and easier.

Slappers: Getting More Bat Control
To help your slappers have more bat control tell them to move their hands forward as they move their back foot forward. This will allow them to keep their hands and the bat in front of their body when contacting the ball in order to prevent having a slow bat – and making it easier to hit more fair balls.