If I asked which position in a softball game looks the flashiest, most people would point to the hitter or batter. But being a good hitter is hard work. You need to work tirelessly, putting in days after days in the batting cage to hone your skills. To become the best, you need to build yourself up from scratch.
And one of the first roadblocks to becoming a good hitter is getting the swing movement right. The entire process of swinging a softball bat might seem easy from afar, but when you actually get down to it, the challenges become a lot clearer.
So, wondering how to swing a softball bat? Let’s look at the answers here.
How to Swing a Softball Bat?
The first lesson and perhaps the most important one for a batter are learning how to swing a softball bat. You might be wondering what’s so special about swinging a softball bat. It’s a bat, and you swing it toward the ball, right? But you would be surprised how difficult it is to pull off a perfect swing.
You need to stand properly at the plate, grip the bat in a way that helps you generate the most power and swing accuracy, and also need to maintain a proper posture as you bring the bat toward the ball.If you mess up in any of these sections, your swing will not be effective even if you manage to touch the ball.
As a little league coach, I had to work with many young hitters. And whenever I am working with a beginner, I put a lot of focus on the hitting basics, which includes the proper posture while swinging the bat. If your basics are not fine-tuned to perfection, you will not be able to swing a softball bat efficiently.
In this article, I will break down the basics, giving you a moment-by-moment analysis of how to swing a softball bat properly when it is your turn at the plate.
How to Swing a Softball Bat Correctly
Swinging a softball bat is not that complicated. But it does take a fair bit of time to master. So, to get your swing just right, you need to spend hours in the ballpark. If you have a coach to help you out with your stance and techniques, you should be able to start swinging like a pro within no time.
When it comes to swinging your bat, I like to divide it into two sections; getting into the proper stance and grip and swinging the softball bat. Let me touch up a bit on both sections.
Section 1: Stance and Grip
Hitting a ball with your softball bat with power and accuracy requires consistency. And by that, I mean you need a consistent stance and grip, which will help you turn your swinging momentum into a powerful hit. Needless to say, it is crucial that you are holding the bat properly to achieve that.
Here are the steps to getting a good stance and grip.
1. Adjust Your Stance
Here’s a fact for you; your batting stance will dictate the likelihood of your bat making a good connection with the ball. I have trained many hitters in my career, and in my experience, the ones with the better stance usually do better in the game.
To get a nice stance, position yourself as close to the middle of the batter’s box as you can. This will help you hit anything that comes through the strike zone. Your feet should be planted parallel to the direction that the home plate is facing. The distance between your feet should be around the width of your shoulders.
In addition, you should bend your knees slightly to get a better balance. And finally, make sure you are distributing the weight evenly across both feet.
2. Check Your Grip
Getting a good stance is never enough to get a good connection with the ball. You also need to grip the bat properly to deliver the swing with proper power. For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume you are a right-handed batter. If you are a lefty, the hand positioning would simply be reversed.
So, your right hand should be the top hand, and your bottom hand would be your left hand. Your hands should be rubbing against each other when you hold the bat in a way that the middle knuckles form a straight line along the bat. Do not grip the bat too lightly. You want to keep your wrists flexible.
When holding the bat, make sure your hands are a few inches above the knob end. For heavier softball bats, you can move your hands slightly upwards towards the barrel. Moving your hands upwards can give you better swing control at the expense of less hitting power.
3. Proper Arm Positioning
Before you swing the bat, you also want to focus a bit on your hand positioning. Now, the best arm positioning for a good swing depends a lot on the batter himself. So, I usually do not interfere much here unless I see something that requires improvement. And I would suggest you try out different positioning to see what suits you.
But there are some basics that you need to know about. For instance, you want to keep your hands close to your body when you hold the bat. Your hands should be around four inches in front of your chest with the elbows down. Make sure you relax your shoulders. The last thing you want to do is tense up as you swing.
The bat should be pointed upwards with a slight angle towards you when you are facing the pitcher.
Section 2: Swinging the Softball Bat
Now that you understand the grip and stance well, let’s get to the tough part. The batter is always at a psychological war with the pitcher in a softball game. He needs to learn to read the pitcher’s movement and make split-second reactions to the pitch. And that requires experience to master.
However, my goal here is to make sure your swinging technique is perfect so that once you learn to read the pitcher, you can send the ball flying every time you swing.
1. The Toe Tap
There are a lot of micro plays that occur when the batter takes their turn at the plate. The first one is the toe tap or the stride. Once you are in position at the batter’s box, you need to look at the pitcher’s movement carefully. When you see him moving towards releasing the ball, you should move forward slightly with your front foot.
The movement is very slight, and your goal is to place your front foot at a 45-degree angle to the pitcher. This positioning will allow you to swing the bat through the strike one with the most amount of power.
How far forward you step depends on your height. Typically, taller players have a longer stride, but in most cases, the movement will be around 2 to 8 inches. The movement should be fast and precise. While moving forward, you should try to keep your front shoulder slightly lower than your back and keep your hips parallel to the bat.
2. The Swing
The main power of your swing comes from the movement of your hips and legs, not from your hands. So, it is important to swing the right way so that you can drive the ball as hard as possible on a good hit.
When the pitcher throws the ball, rotate your hips forward by pushing your back foot. While keeping your elbows bent, drive your front shoulder towards the ball. You should feel your top hand rotating as you swing the bat towards the ball. At the moment of contact, the palm of your top hand would be facing upwards.
When swinging the bat, you need to keep your eyes straight and head level. A slight bend at the elbows will help you move through the swing and get a better follow through.
3. The Contact
You should try to lead the bat with your elbows. I repeat, your hands are there to only grip the bat, not to provide swing power or accuracy. Now, as you know, there can be different types of pitches. But the ball has to pass through the strike zone, and that narrows down how many different ways you can hit it.
If the pitch is traveling down the middle, your goal should be to hit the ball in front of your hip. When you connect the barrel to the ball, your arm should be bent at a 90-degree angle. And once you hit the ball, your arm should be fully extended.
At the moment of contact, your eyes should be on the ball as it hits the barrel. If you can manage a slight bend at the elbows when you hit the ball, you will be able to generate more power. Once you connect with the ball, you can follow through by extending your arms forward.
4. The Follow Through
Just because you managed to hit the ball doesn’t mean your swing is finished. The follow-through after a successful connection is just as important as the swing. It lets you get into a good position to start running to first base. If you want to make it big in the sport, you need to also focus on your follow-through after hit.
When you make contact with the ball, do not stop the swing. Instead, roll your wrists through the swing allowing your hands to go above and behind your head. At that point, your chest will be angled upwards as you let the bat travel behind you.
After you are done with the swing, your front leg should be planted while your back leg is bent to accommodate the shift in weight on it. Also, your front foot would be at a 45-degree angle to the pitcher.
How Long Does It Take to Swing a Softball Bat?
Not long at all. The entire process of swinging the bat takes only a couple of seconds. But it is amazing how many small things come into play in those few seconds. This just goes to show you how many things you need to think about when you are swinging a softball bat.
How Do I Get More Power in My Slow Pitch Softball Swing?
If you want to be a power hitter, and drive the ball to the stands each time you swing, then you need to work hard. First of all, you need to choose a softball bat that matches your playstyle. Power hitters generally prefer end-loaded bats over balanced bats as the extra weight can help generate greater power.
A heavier bat can drive the ball further. But wielding a heavy bat is not easy. You need to build up your upper body strength so that you can swing a heavier bat without too many issues.
But choosing the bat is only half the battle. You need to make sure you are focusing on the right body parts when you are swinging the bat. A common misconception among amateur hitters is that the swing power comes from the hands.
The truth is to get the most power behind your swing, you need to swing from your legs and hips. And once you make a connection, you should follow through with your swing and extend the bat.
To become a good power hitter, you need to put in the hours at the batting cage. Ideally, you want to hit the batting cage once a week at the least. In the meantime, you should maintain a healthy diet so that you can have a strong physique.
How Do You Swing a Softball Bat Faster?
Power is not the only thing that matters in driving the ball further in a softball game. Your swing speed also plays a huge role here. And while power hitters focus mostly on swing power. Many contact hitters prefer to think about swing speed to make the ball fly to the stands.
To get a faster swing speed, you need to focus on some drills over the others. Firstly, there is no alternative to hitting the batting cage. The more time you spend honing your skills, the faster and easier you will be able to swing the softball bat.
Using a lighter softball bat can often result in faster swings. Since the weight of the bat will not hold you back, you will be able to drive it through the strike zone much easier. So, consider going with a lightweight softball bat if you want a faster swing.
How to Teach a Kid to Swing a Softball Bat?
If you want to give your kid a head start in this sport, you should start early. But teaching a kid the proper techniques and hitting grip can take some time. The important thing to remember here is to be patient and take things as slowly as possible.
You can also enlist the help of a coach who is experienced in training youth players if you don’t have the patience for it. But personally, I would recommend putting in the hours yourself. It can also be an amazing bonding experience for you both.
Teaching a kid to swing a softball bat becomes a lot easier if you keep things light and enjoyable. Toss a couple of balls toward him and have him swing on his own. Then show him the right way and slowly nudge him towards it.
Over time, he will learn from his mistakes and show signs of improvement. Remember to inspire and motivate him every step of the way. Do not make things too difficult for him as it can lead to him resenting the game. If you take a gentle approach, you should be able to teach him how to swing a softball bat faster than you expected.
To make things easier for both of you, you can get a couple of batting tees of proper height. Batting tees will allow your kid to hit the ball from a static point. Once he gets an idea of how to hit the ball, you can move on to other drills.
Tips to Improve Your Swing with a Softball Bat
Simply learning the proper swing technique is rarely enough to become a good hitter. You need to improve it constantly if you want to go pro. Here are a couple of tips that will help you improve your bat swing.
1. Home Practice
Just because you are not at the ballpark does not mean you should not practice right now. If you want to become a pro hitter, you need to work at it any chance you get. Take your bat and head out to your backyard and practice the motion of your swing; you do not need a ball for it.
Team practice is important, but never underestimate the importance of solo practice. When you are practicing on your own, you can focus on yourself completely. If you have a batting tee, you can use it to hit a couple of balls and work on your sewing techniques.
2. Group Practice
Softball is a team sport, and if you are playing with a team, group practice is essential to bringing up your skills as a hitter. If you are part of a team, then you should also have a coach. Listen to his advice when you are practicing, and share any issues you might be having while hitting the ball.
Most coaches were players themselves, and they should be able to help you work on your game. During a competitive game, it is important to talk to your teammates before you go up to bat. Sometimes, they might give you a critical bit of information on the pitcher that might help you get a better hit at the ball.
3. Build Up Your Swing Speed
To get a good hit on the ball and drive it to the stands, you need to generate a good amount of power. One good way to achieve that is by swinging the bat faster. With enough practice on your own in the batting cage, you will be able to swing your bat faster without compromising your accuracy.
There are many drills designed to work on your reflexes which can improve your swing speed. My personal favorite is the quick toss drill, but your coach can have other ideas too.
4. Strength Training
To get more power out of your swings, you need to focus on your physique. There is no alternative to strength training, especially if you want to be a power hitter. With a stronger physique, you will be able to use heavier bats, which will, in turn, help you drive the ball farther.
Your goal is to strengthen your abs, legs, and core. In my experience, the best workouts for a hitter are crunches, leg raises, Russian twists, squats, and lunges, and leg raises.
Patience and persistence are the two pillars of being a good hitter. It takes time to master the perfect swing. But as long as you keep at it, you will get it eventually. Keep in mind, though, that learning how to swing a softball bat is only the first step. You also need to work hard at other sections like reflex training, strength build-up, and overall fitness training.
Swinging a bat is important, but it is not the only thing that you need to learn if you want to become a pro athlete. I hope my extensive rundown on swinging a softball bat could help you out. The rest is in your hands, and how much hard work you are willing to put down to become the best possible version you can be. Cheers!