DeMotte Little League: Softball Tips

UNLV Softball Tips









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UNLV Softball Tips
Provided by: Angel Santiago, CSCS University of Nevada Las Vegas UNLV.
The 16" softball is a tool that I use here at UNLV that will provide any bat and ball player the opportunity to understand the idea of proper contact and drive through the ball. It's common in the Midwest (Chicagoland) where I'm from to see 16" softball being played throughout the city/suburb parks. It's been a real culture shock for me coming out west and kids have never seen what a 16" softball looks like or feels like to hit. This is how you can make a 16" softball work for your program (baseball or softball).


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August Softball Tip's









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Check Yourself!
Learning to be your own batting coach

Use checkpoints to stop at given points of the swing to observe & correct yourself.

PROVIDED BY COACH JOHN PETER, BASEBALLTIPS.COM

NOTE: Learn to check yourself from the feet up…every time.
This will keep you from missing certain parts of the swing and more easily allow you to remember all details.

Rest Position – How does it look, how does it feel? Are you comfortable? Is your weight about 40% front foot and 60% back foot? Are you on the balls of your feet with your weight bearing on the inside of your slightly flexed knees and again, the balls of your feet?

Hands about 4-6” from your body? Tall backside? Head equal distance between both feet? Eyes level, so both eyes see the ball?

Load Position – Take a negative move (this is when you “load” with your hands moving toward your back shoulder) with hands held high (at the top of the strike zone).

Can you feel the slight pull of muscles from your torso and upper body…like the winding of a spring?

Keep your stride shorter rather than longer! Hands go toward the back of your body while front foot strides toward pitcher (some coaches will call this ‘walking away from your hands’).
NOTE: Your weight should now be 80% on the back foot and only 20% on the front foot with knees slightly flexed.

Contact position – Are you up on the toes of your back foot?
Is your front foot slightly open at a 45% angle with FRONT KNEE BRACED AND LOCKED?
Are your hands in a palm up and palm down position? Head still and between both legs like a stick man drawing?

Are your eyes focused at the point of contact?

Finish – Are you hitting off a firm front side with your front knee locked?
Are you still balanced with head between both legs and not lunging forward?
Is the bat completely wrapped around your back?

Is your head still?

Tip! – The quickest way to a great swing is your own pitching machine. Look for affordable ways to get this done!

Coach JP's Note
This is a generic list of checkpoints and should help most players. It’s not designed to change advanced players who now have a set schedule and their own way of doing things. This should supply you with solid information to keep you in a good, strong hitting position throughout the entire swing.

*******************************************************

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July Softball Tip's






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Catching Tips and Drills
SECOND BASE STEAL
Submitted by eteamz.com user, Coach Megan

The best way to correct your form is to practice game situations or game-like situations w/out actual runners. Most coaches don't stress working with their catchers and therefore they lack in good form. This drill will help with runners stealing second base.

You want to make it seem like an actual game as much as possible. The pitcher stands in the circle with a bucket of balls. The catcher is to be behind home plate in full equipment in the crouch position. (This should be with thighs parallel to the ground, a fairly wide stance for balance, and their left foot slightly in front of the right, (for right handed players).

Draw a straight line across the ground in line with the left foot. The catcher should extend their left hand (glove hand) out and make a fist with the thumb tucked inside. The right hand should be placed behind the glove pocket. This will enable better control and a faster throw to second.

Have the pitcher pitch a regular fast ball down the middle of the plate. The catcher is to lean forward slightly to get to the ball faster. As the catcher is catching the ball they should turn their feet so their right foot is perpendicular to the position that the left foot was in. They should not have taken any steps toward the pitcher except the shuffle turn. Their left foot should be open to second base, which will allow the throwing arm to be in a straight line with second base. With the upper half of their body, they should be in a sitting position with their back straight (like a wall sit.) The ball is pulled with both hands up to the right of their face by their ear. The left arm should then separate with the right and point to second base. With the ball in the right and an extended right arm parallel to the ground, bend it to a 90 degree angle, hand toward sky. Rotate the right wrist backwards (as if to show the python muscle.)

With each throw, the catcher should have the same grip on the ball. I use the grip with my index, middle, and ring fingers crossing the seams. Keeping the "L" shape in their arm, follow through the throwing motion keeping in line with second base. Their weight should shift with the throw. (Make sure not to shift the weight too soon, as this will create less speed on the ball.) The left arm should release and fall as the right arm throws the ball.

Your follow-through should force your right foot into the fielder's position. The ball should be going on a down angle to second base, not a straight line. This will better enable the shortstop or second baseman to put the tag on. (The receiver's glove should start on the ground and be pulled up for bad hops, not started in the air as is often taught.) The catcher should not be stepping on the plate or any where near the plate.

After this is done repeatedly (and don't worry it is not to be learned in one day!), try other pitches. For a ball on the glove side, the ball should be pulled across the body with both hands and into the throwing position. The body should not go to where the ball is.

This is the correct form as taught in the majors MLB.

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June Softball Tip's






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THROWING TIPS AND DRILLS

Tip #1
HIT THE BUCKET
Submitted by Eteamz User, Brian Ward


To improve throwing accuracy and footwork in the infeild, I like to divide my team in two groups. Half are positioned at short stop and the other half are positioned at second base. We mark off a starting point that the girls must stay behind until a ground ball is hit to them by a coach at home plate. Each group alternates players feilding ground balls and throwing to home plate where two stacked buckets are located. Each time a player hits the top bucket on a bounce 1 point is awarded. Hitting the bucket without a bounce gets 2 points.

My players charge ther ball as hard as they can so that they can get a shorter throw. First group to 10 points is the winner and usually gats extra hacks during BP

Tip #2
THROWING FORM
Submitted by Eteamz User, Coach Mike

In watching warm ups and in particular, throwing warm ups, the main problem I spotted in players trying to make the team was their throwing motion. Granted, some of the players had been taught the correct form for throwing the ball, but a lot had absolutely horrid form. Here are a few drills to fine tune your throwing form.

The bringing back of the throwing hand is done is a graceful, arching movement. The hand swings back and up, with the ball facing backward at the top of the arch. This can be practiced by having someone standing about 5 feet directly behind you. Take a ball and from the hand in glove position (as if the ball were just fielded) separate the hands with the ball hand swinging first down, then back and up until you throwing arm bicep is parallel with the ground and you have a 90 degree angle with you forearm pointing up and the ball facing backwards. Looking at this motion from the third base side (right handed thrower) the ball hand starts at 9:00 O"clock, swings down to 6:00 o'clock then up to 12:00 o"clock. If you release the ball at about 3:00 o"clock (for the drill) and your form is correct, the ball should be easily caught by the person standing behind you. If the ball goes to the left or right of the catcher, you are not using a proper path for your arm. Practice this drill until you have the proper arm motion, then, instead of releasing the ball, go into your throwing motion, striding with your lead foot and following through.

If you need additional work on this motion, try the load and go drill. Stand with your weight evenly distributed between both feet and in the position of already haven taken your stride, with hips facing towards third base(right handed thrower)Transfer your weight to the rear foot and lift the front foot off the ground. As you come forward with the ball in the throwing motion, transfer your weight back to your lead foot and make a throw.

If you work on this drill, it will improve your accuracy and distance.

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Tip #1
You Usually Get What You Pay For
by Mike Cisneros Editor in Chief,
www.softballtoday.com and www.batreviews.com


With all the different concerns that hitters have about bats, the one thing that many of them have in common is the cost. Is it really necessary to spend that kind of money to get a good bat? Are the top bats really worth the price? Isn't there a cheaper way to go?

Yes, yes, and no.

The truth is, just like cars, computers, and golf balls, with softball bats you get what you pay for. You -- or your wife -- may not want to hear it, but buying a more expensive bat will make a difference in your performance, regardless of your ability. And settling for a cheaper bat is an option, but in the end it would be just that -- settling.

Don't be swayed by the arguments like "a good hitter can hit with any bat" or "a $150 bat is just as good as a $300 bat in the right hands." They're just not true.

Think for a minute about cars. The Kia Rio and Ferrari Berlinetta are both cars that work in basically the same way. But even the novice can go faster in the Ferrari. And in the hands of an expert, there is no comparison between the two. It is the same situation with computers. You can email on any basic computer, but if you want to make movies, you will need one with more technology and, naturally, a bigger price tag. And for golf balls, Titlest makes Pro V-1s and NXTs, but the pros only use the Pro V-1s. To the untrained eye they look like the same ball, except with one costing $60 a dozen and the other costing $20 a dozen. But the pros know that there is a difference and they play with the one that gives them the edge.

Why would it be different with softball bats?

With softball bats you are paying for technology and materials. Composites are more expensive than aluminum, multi-walls are more expensive than single walls, and bats with larger sweet spots and hoop flex closest to the limit cost more than those with small sweet spots and hoop flex toward the bottom of the standard.

Click here for the complete tip.

Tip #2
Hitting Against a Tough Pitcher
By:Iyhia McMichae
Akron Racers Outfielder, National Pro Fastpitch
Here are some hitting tips when facing a tough pitcher:

1. The most important thing to remember when you are approaching the box is to clear your head. You want to focus on only a couple of things before you go and hit. There only two things I focus on; seeing the ball coming clearly out of the pitchers hand and when it comes into my power zone. When it's in your power zone put a good swing on it.

2. I want to make sure that I capitalize on the first couple of strikes that I see. When you're facing a good pitcher, which there are a lot in the NPF, you are not going to get many good pitches to hit. Pitchers like Nikki Myers, Christa Williams and Amanda Scott do not make many mistakes, but when they do you have to take advantage of that.

3. One other thing to concentrate on is when you are in the box, just relax and keep it simple. If you get too tense, it will affect your swing and you will not put your best swing on the ball. When kept simple, it relaxes your hands and allows them to react faster through your power zone.

Click here for the complete tip.

 
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Quick Tips on Choosing an End Load Bat vs. a Balanced Bat






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Tip #1
Quick Tips on Choosing an End Load Bat vs. a Balanced Bat
by Mike Cisneros Editor in Chief,
www.softballtoday.com and www.batreviews.com


When looking for a new bat, everyone considers the materials (aluminum or composite?), the weight (26 or 28?), and the cost ($150 or $300), but not   many people consider whether their choice is an end loaded or balance weighted model. Not considering this aspect can be a mistake as the weighting can have a dramatic effect on your swing in ways you may not have thought about. More troublesome, choosing the wrong weighting can hamper your swing in ways you didn’t intend.
Simply put, bats today are weighted in three basic ways: end load, handle load, and balanced. The following example is for illustration purposes. Say high performance bat shells generally weigh about 22 ounces and when you add the knob, cap, and grip, you end up with about a 25 ounce bat.
Click here for the complete tip.

Tip #2
Controlling the Controllables
by 2004 NPF Defensive Player of the Year, Lindsay Gardner,
Link National Pro Fastpitch

Have you ever yelled at an umpire and brought the attention of your teammates or players to yourself rather than helping them stay  focused on how they play the game? This TIP is about controlling the “controllables”.
There are many things that can interfere with the game of softball and almost all of them are things that we cannot control. For example: umpire's calls, the weather, field conditions, your team or teammate's performance, the other team's performance, bad hops, getting a hit -- these are a couple of things that can change the outcome of a game that are OUT OF OUR CONTROL!

So, players and coaches, next time you think about yelling at an umpire for making a bad call or think about blaming the weather for bad play, think instead about what you can control - YOUR ATTITUDE. You can control yourself and how you react and come back.

This is a great part of the mental game and is something that can not only make a difference in softball, but in life! Good Luck!
Click here for the complete tip.

Tip #3
By: Erika Hanson
NY/NJ Juggernaut 1st Baseman, Link National Pro Fastpitch
When you are in your fielding position and a ground ball is hit in the infield, always turn back to the bag facing the infield (so, lead with the right side turning back to the bag first). You always want to keep the ball and the field in your view.

As a first baseman, your #1 job is to catch the ball! So, you want to get yourself in a position that is comfortable and ready for a ball to be thrown ANYWHERE!

So, once you are back to the bag and waiting to receive a ball from an infielder, start with both feet (preferably your back heels) on the bag. If that is uncomfortable, have one heel on the bag and the other very close to the bag). DO NOT STRETCH FOR A BALL UNTIL YOU SEE WHERE IT IS GOING. In a situation where you know it is going to be a close play for the umpire, you might anticipate the ball getting to you, and therefore you may stretch too soon! Once you are stretched out, your range is now limited. If the infielder throws it very high or very wide, you may not have a chance to get it.

So, make sure you know the direction the ball is headed, and then go and get it!
 
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Tip #1
Quick Tips on Bunting
By: by Olympic Gold Medalist Jessica Mendoza


Sacrifice vs. Drag
Although there are many different variations in bunting, the two main ways to bunt are the sacrifice and the drag. The difference between these two methods can be substantial. In a sacrifice bunt situation, the main objective is to sacrifice your at bat to move the runner forward a base. The objective with a drag bunt is to test the defense with a goal of getting a base hit. At all levels with both a sacrifice and a drag bunt, the main purpose is to get the ball down.

At the more advanced level, however, the objectives of both a sacrifice and a drag become more similar. Once a hitter has confidence that they are a good bunter (successfully bunting the ball 80-100 percent of the time), they may not have to fully sacrifice their at-bat in a sacrifice situation. What they can do, is now make the defense work, similar to a drag bunt situation. For example, instead of the batter fully squaring around and letting the defense know early they are bunting, either square around later or (if the batter is confident in their drag as well) use the drag bunt as their sacrifice. In this case, their first priority is still to advance the runner, but now they are making the defense work to get both the runner advancing, and themselves, out.

No matter how fast or slow you are, the skill of bunting is essential in the game of softball; so take pride in your bunting skills and practice it everyday -- it will make a difference!!! Click here for more tips from Softball Today Magazine

Tip #2
Hitting Home Runs versus Base Hits
By Rusty Bumgardner,
World Softball League/LongHaul Bombers

When trying to hit base hits instead of home runs a number of things change. You need to be conscious of where you are hitting the ball and where you are standing in the box -- but regardless if you are trying to get on base or hit it out of the park you need to focus on driving the ball.

For base hits, focus on hitting the middle to top third of the ball and following down and through the ball.

For the Home Run, focus on the bottom third of the ball and driving it out of the park. Make sure you don't lift it out (dropping the shoulder), but drive it out. For the Pure Power DVD featuring Rusty Bumgardner visit www.buysoftball360.com.

Click here for more tips from Softball Today Magazine

Tip #3
A Coaching Philosophy for a Competitive Team
by Peter Sprenkle, Author of "A Softball Coaches Tool Kit"
The statement "Playing time is earned, not given" is the foundation of this coaching philosophy. Most teams have starters and role players. However, starters should not receive special treatment. Everyone is expected to put the best interest of the team first, before any thought of individual accomplishments. No individual, coach or player, is more important than the team.

What specifically does "Playing time is earned, not given" mean? The amount of playing time each player receives will depend on attitude, skill level, commitment, absences, injuries and game/tournament situations.

Team pride is another cornerstone of a competitive athletic program. Winning builds pride, but so does hard work and commitment to individual and team goals. Coaches should instill in each player the belief that hard work pays off, and the harder he/she works, the more they will achieve. While winning is a goal for everyone, each player should focus on his/her effort - not the outcome. A team can always control its' effort, but seldom the outcome of a game.

Click here to read the rest of this tip.

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