Guest post by Ken Krause, Life in the Fastpitch Lane blog
Watch the hitters in a fastpitch softball game and more often than not this is what you will see: despite the fact that they have a $300+ club in their hands, they will let the pitchers dictate what happens. The hitters will stand at the plate, waiting for the pitch to be delivered. Then, as the pitch is on its way – usually well on its way – they will try to make some quick decisions and react to what they see.
While that might seem reasonable, that way of thinking actually works against the hitter. It’s all a matter of time.
A softball pitched at 60 mph from 43 feet away allows roughly .4 seconds of reaction time. Even if the pitch is slower, it’s still only a half-second or so of reaction time. Figure you’re going to lose a tenth of a second or two as your brain tries to figure out what’s going on – here comes the pitch, is it going high or low, is it inside or outside, etc. So now you only have two or three tenths of a second to get your body and bat in motion and take the bat to the right spot.
That’s not a lot of time. I don’t care how much bat speed you can develop, if you’re sitting back trying to react to the pitch after it’s thrown you’re going to have an awfully tough go of it.
The better approach is to act rather than react. That means going into every pitch with the assumption you’re going to swing, and then holding up if it turns out to be a bad one. Yes, you are still reacting, but you’re not relying completely on reacting. Instead, you are taking command of the situation – taking an action first.
Another way to think about it is taking an offensive posture versus a defensive one. All too often, hitters look like they’re trying to defend the plate, fending off pitches as they come in. Yet hitting is an offensive skill. Done correctly, and in bunches, hits lead to scoring. Rather than sitting back and reacting, hitters need to attack each pitch.
Sure, sometimes you may swing at a bad pitch. But it’s better to do that than not swing at a good pitch. After all, if you swing at a bad pitch now and then you might get lucky anyway. Nothing is going to happen if that $300+ bat is sitting on your shoulder.
Acting instead of reacting is also good for building confidence. Hitters who take command instead of allowing their at-bats to be dictated by the pitcher tend to have more success, which builds positive attitude that’s so important to softball hitters.
Hitting is one of the most fun aspects of the game of softball. Why make it something to be dreaded? Act instead of react and you’ll find you’ll enjoy it more – and will have a lot more success.