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The Progression of Softball and Baseball Bat Technology

The Progression of Softball and Baseball Bat Technology

Arguably the most crucial piece of equipment in baseball and softball is the bat, as this is the vehicle through which runs are scored and games are won. The right bat can make all the difference between a solid hit and a disconnect with the ball, and continued innovations see baseball and softball bats becoming more powerful with each passing year. Softball bats as we know them today were greatly influenced by the centuries of bat evolution. Follow us through the history of bat technology and find out exactly what’s gone into the creation of your softball bat as you know it today.

The Early Days

In the early days of baseball and softball, bats were created following an “unstructured structure.” Players were allowed to select or create their own bats, and this resulted in a wide variety of sizes and shapes, as there were no restrictions regarding length or width. As experimentation occurred, players determined that wagon tongue wood created the most solid round bat, and a trend towards the now traditional round bat picked up steam.

The Changes of the 1860s

The first limitations on bat size came in 1859, when The Professional National Association of Baseball Players Governing Committee voted that bats could be no larger than 2.5 inches in diameter. The 1860s saw players wrapping strings and cords around the handles of their bats to find a better grip on the larger bat handle. By the end of the 1860s, a new rule limiting the length of bats was set at a maximum of 42 inches—a limitation which still stands today for baseball. For softball, regulations require bats not be over 34 inches in length, regardless of association.

Cue John Hillerich…

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Hit It To Win It!

Softball Hitting Drills

Practice alone does not always make perfect. But perfect practice will always make one perfect. Nowadays there are hoards of articles on good softball hitting drills out there; this isn’t one of them. More so, if you only sought have just a good reading time. This is because in this edition I opted to focus mainly in the objectives of the drills rather than the ease of engaging them. Upon a careful consideration, I am certain that every hitter who reads this article will obviously add something to his/her hitting menu. I know it’s not always an easy task to read through drills line-by-line, but I am sure you’re going to enjoy this if you read so.

Are you ready my now? Keep the wide stance, feet straight, knees & arms bent; elbow, shoulder and your eyes be even. Now assume the correct bat grip. Everything check?  Now we begin our drill list.

Part A – Basic drills
Main Objective:

In hitting, strength, agility, confidence and creativity will often support winning. The drills of this segment will focus mainly on strengthening the hands. In addition, they can also help a beginner to master the art of swinging. They are pretty simple and you can actually try them indoors if you wish.

Drill #1: The Wall Drill

Assume a bat’s distance (place a bat between the tip of the belly and the wall) with a wall.
Within that distance, make swings without the barrel of the bat hitting the wall.

Note: This drill’s main aim will be to help you learn the correct swings. It could best be practiced with a friend/coach to correct you if you mess up.

Drill #2: The Tee Drill

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Softball Beginner Drills: How to increase the softball Bat Speed

One of the fundamental skills of a hitter is that of handling a bat. Usually, hitters are trained to hold a bat and hit in an almost similar way that result to the same bat speed (40 – 45 mph). This is a very good practice when beginning your tuition as a hitter. Nonetheless, there is always a notable distinction between pro hitters and novice hitters by examining just the agility of hitting (bats peed). Often, expert hitters always win by hitting easier, faster and accurately whereas learners don’t.

A study that was carried out by Ralph and Karen (Human Kinetics, 2012) to examine the relationship between the bat speed and the performance of a team’s has affirmed this popular hypothesis [1]. According to their publication on the research, a faster bat speed is likely to boost the chances of a team’s win by almost a half. Thus, this edition seeks to enlighten you on a few proven tips and drills that will help you or your team to increase your chances of winning through increasing the bat speed.

Points to remember …

Hitting is an art. It isn’t majorly a talent as many would love to put it. It is therefore important for any hitter to remember the following before reading further:

  • That all hitters can become perfectionists, as long as they practice regularly
  • The tips and drills below are only effective if practiced not if read.
  • Most of the drills and tips are greatly effective if shared and practiced by a partner/friend. So, don’t be solo, share this.

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Hitting Drills to Increase Bat Speed

Drill #1:  Training with a Hitting Tube

Aim:

As noted before, the training drills that will increase the strength of a player will ultimately increase the bat speed as a consequence. This drill aims to strengthen the forearms and the elbow of a player.

Implementation:

  • Suspend a hitting tube vertically in position letting the tip of the tube be close to the approximate height of the height of striking.
  • Keep striking the tube slowly gently and gradually increase the magnitude of the hits and the speed.
  • Keep increasing until the tube gets to an uncontrollable speed; which will happen when the tube hits you.
  • Keep doing it for at least 10 minutes.

 Note

  • If you are playing with your friends, keep adjusting the height of the tube relative to the height of the player.
  • Never use a hitting tube that is too heavy to break a bat or hurt you in the case of swinging.
  • Never use a hitting pad with a rough surface as it is likely to damage your bat.

 

Drill #2: The Heavier Ball on Tee

Aim:

Just like Drill #1 above, this drill too aims to develop stronger elbow and arm muscles of a player. But besides the two, this drill will also seek to train accuracy when hitting. As a coach, you can as well use this drill to train beginners on the softball hitting essentials.

Implementation:

This drill requires to be practiced in a batting cage or a well aerated enclosed place. It can be practiced best when training with a coach; then again, you can try it out with a friend but ensure you are never doing it alone. Now proceed as follows:

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Softball Performance – Tips & Tricks for Softball Hitters

Softball hitters are the engine of a softball game. Hitters do make the game lively and enjoyable. As such, I am pretty sure enough training on drills and emphasis has already been made to bring up perfect hitters.  But drills alone aren’t all that one needs to win. A few tricks will supplement a winner. When all teams are equally prepared, the winning team will only need utilize just one simple trick to gain an upper hand in the competition and outperform. Thus, in this edition, I wish to take my hitter readers through a simple “recipe” to outplay and outperform in the field.

#1. Be consistent in training: train, train and train always

To be a perfect hitter in softball is a daily full-time job. I mean it. Any sincerely good hitter will confess that hitting doesn’t come easy as it looks when other people do it. To be a good hitter, you have to invest loads of time in training. One important tip is that you should be consistent and learn to throw repeatedly with only one single style constantly. Of course you can add some showoff and pomp but only when after you are absolutely sure of winning.

 #2. Be confident: …if you think you can do it, you will surely do it.

It’s not just an issue of telling yourself you can. It means knowing you can. Obviously, such confidence in anything can only come from adequate training/learning. So, tip #1 will be a key to tip #2.  When you are confident, you will be sure of the perfect swings and perfect releases regardless of how a pitch is hurled at you.

#3. Learn the pitching discipline

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Softball Workout – 3 Core Exercises for More Hitting Power

Today I would like to share with you three of the most effective core training exercises to improve hitting power.  If you want to hit the ball harder, deeper and with more power then you need to do these three exercises.

Many people do a variation of crunches, planks, or leg raise.  While these can be effective, they are not the most suited to increase hitting power.  Therefore, if you truly want to hit the ball harder then you need to harness most of the power on the rotational aspect of hitting.  This is where you get most of your power.

Here are the three core exercises to help increase your rotational power.

The first one is the Barbell Core Rotation.

  1. Stand upright holding the end of a weighted bar at chest level with your elbow bent and the other end anchored on the floor against the solid object.
  1. Twist your upper body to one side, lowering the bar down to the side of that knee, and bending your hips and knees.
  1. Return to the upright, mid-position and repeat on the other side.

The next one is the Dumbbell Russian Twist.

  1. Start in a sitting position with your feet up off the floor, knees bent, holding the dumbbell at chest level in both hands with your arms extended out in front.
  1. Twist your torso to one side, lowering the dumbbell towards the floor.
  1. Twist your torso back to the other side, keep your feet up, and arms straight throughout.

Finally, a Swiss ball exercise called the Swiss Ball Lower Body Twist.

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Softball Performance Tips – Coaching Game

softballcoaching

By Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog

This past weekend was the first tournament for the 14U team I coach. We’d spent a lot of time drilling, preparing, running game-like simulations, studying our playbook and otherwise getting ready. I was absolutely convinced we were ready to come out gangbusters.

Then came the first game of pool play. I swear it seemed like my well-drilled team had been replaced by look-alike aliens who had never seen a fastpitch softball game in their lives. We couldn’t hit (despite working on it all winter), we threw to the wrong base or at the wrong time, we missed easy fielding chances, it was just a disaster. Definitely not what I was expecting.

And that’s what’s so humbling about our game. I’ve had a pretty good run with players I instructed individually the last few months. I heard glowing reports about their performance, saw their names in the newspaper, was proud of them for their post-season awards. Then the day I go out to coach my own team I wind up feeling like the worst coach in the world.

The only consolation is knowing I’m not alone in that. I’ve spoken with Cindy Bristow about this phenomenon and she said she’s felt the same thing. Cindy is a far more accomplished coach than I am (or ever will be) so to hear her say she once got to the point of feeling like she was a bad coach gives me some small measure of comfort.

It can happen to all of us. We prepare our teams to the best of our ability, applying whatever store of knowledge we have to the situation. But still, it’s the players who have to play the game. And when you’re talking about adolescents who have a million things going on in their lives you just never know what will happen. It’s a crapshoot.

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Softball Performance Tips – Control Your Attitude

By Dalton Ruer

If you’ve read any of my former posts you probably realize by now that my writing is meant to encourage athletes, coaches and parents alike. I try to string together words that perhaps you have read before, in a way that makes them sound fresh. Recently one of my batting students made me realize how cliché some of our sayings can be at times and yet how critically vital they are to continue to repeat.

One of the things as a coach and an instructor that I realized a long time ago is that anyone can look good when everything is going there way. But how you react when you are in the batter’s box and the umpire made that strike call even though the ball bounced is what really separates the average players from the great players. What I’ve found is that average players allow the “happenings” around them to determine their “happiness.” While the players with the ability to win long term, and throughout life, are able to maintain control of the 6” between their ears despite the circumstances around them going against them.

That’s so profound right. Just follow that advice and all the weeds in your life will turn to roses. Well on paper everything sounds profound, but when you are a 14 year old girl like my student Jessie how does that work when you are in a big tournament and the coach benches you 2 games in a row for no fault of your own, 2 tournaments in a row. How do you control that 6” between your ears then? That’s kind of where the “rubber hits the road” as they say.

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Softball Performance Tips – Success at the Plate

softballhittingtipsBy Stacie Mahoe

One of the quickest ways to earn playing time is to be successful as a hitter.  Being a successful hitter does not only entail getting “hits.”  After all, even “good” hitters will “fail” 6 or 7 times out of 10 at bats.

So what can you do to 1) get more hits and 2) be “successful” even if you don’t get a hit?

Here are 5 tips to help you become a more successful softball hitter:

Know the Situation

Getting a hit is great, but since 6 or 7 out of 10 times you’re not going to get a hit, how can you help your team even if the defense makes a great play and gets you out?

Well, knowing the situation is key.  You have to know what your team needs right now.

  • Does your team need 1 run or 5 runs?
  • Does your team need you to get on base safely?
  • Or is it more important for you to advance an existing runner?
  • How many outs are there?
  • Does your team need you to score the runner from 3rd even if it means that you get out?
  • Or do you need to try to score the run while keeping the inning alive?

What is it that will MOST help your team this at bat? Make sure you know what that is so that even if you get out, it’s a productive out that  helps your team.

Scan the Defense

This is something I always did before stepping into the box.  Scan the defense and take a look at where and how they are positioned.  Not only does this give you cues as to where to expect the pitch, it also gives you a heads up on where gaps were in case the pitcher missed their spot.

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Softball Performance – Important is the Sacrifice Bunt

softball sacrifice buntBy Dalton Ruer

I love teaching girls how to sacrifice bunt. I mean I LOVE it. Partly because of the importance in the game, but more importantly because sacrifice is such an important part of life. Which is why it absolutely breaks my heart that in this game I love I see so much incredible sacrifice from parents, and so little from the players.

Performing a sacrifice bunt actually requires very little skill. The only true requirement is a simple desire to sacrifice ones self for another. The ability to bunt or not bunt, is a simple indicator of where the players heart is at. Because at the end of the day, at the end of the season, the most important things are not what can the team or coach do to help you. They are: “Where is your heart?” and “What are you willing to do to help the team?” Because those are the things that will carry you through the rest of your life.

It’s called a “sacrifice bunt” because it is supposed to be a sacrifice. You don’t get the glory, like you do for hitting a home run, because if everyone in the stands jumped up and down and chanted your name then it would be called a “glorified bunt.” The life lesson in the sacrifice bunt, is that it requires your heart to be willing to say “I want my teammate on base to get applauded for scoring the winning run, and I want my other teammate to get the applause for having the winning RBI. I’m willing to take the back seat and perform this seemingly meaningless task and be happy for them because their success means that we win.” If that is what goes through your head, then your heart is in the right place to be a great teammate and my guess is that you put 100% effort into bunting practice. But if your heart isn’t in the right place, then my guess is you really don’t put much effort into bunting practice because you are constantly thinking “Let’s just hurry up and do hitting practice so that I can look good.”

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