The Rotational Swing or Short Swing, Bunting and Slapping
With all of the softball hitting instruction out there, the most effective swing is the rotational or short swing. Why? Because when you have a pitcher only 40 feet away throwing the ball 60 mph, which is equivalent to throwing a baseball 90 mph from 60 feet, you better have a quick bat to the ball. Even at 55 mph, that is still like facing an 82 mph pitch in baseball. So back to what Yogi said, "... how are you gonna think and hit at the same time." But remember, if your player is hitting fine, don't mess with it! Hitting is personal, and what may work for one player may not work for another.
My oldest daughter's softball hitting instruction was from a gentleman who was a big proponent of the short swing. He taught her this swing, after she languished with a long swoop that never resulted in contact. By her sophomore year in high school she hit over .300, and in her junior and senior years hit over .450. Needless to say, I was sold and started to have my players schooled in this swing.
Here is a video I found on YouTube that does an excellent job of describing the mechanics of the short swing or rotational swing. Prior to the pitch, notice how the bat is located in relation to his ear. Also notice that the elbows are facing down, not out, as we used to be taught with baseball. As the ball is delivered, note the initial forward movement than back lean of the body as the swing is made, the extension of the arms and the position and shape of the arms. What makes this video so effective is that it presents the "before being taught" swing and the "after being taught" swing videos. They are presented side by side so you can see the difference.
Note that when your players are practicing their swing with the broom handle, make sure they are following the proper mechanics of the swing. There is absolutely no sense ingraining bad habits (going back to the "perfect practice" concept). This will defeat the purpose of your softball hitting instruction.
If you are like me, I found this side by side video very compelling, but still would like to have a manual to help me teach softball hitting instruction. The ParkerTraining System is that manual. It is 50 pages of step by step instruction that will make the system easy to understand and implement.
Bunting (both types) and slapping must be part of your softball hitting instruction. Bunting and slapping are used most often when the other team's pitcher is controlling the game. It is to get the ball in play and force the other team to make a play. Note that slapping has been adopted by some hitters as a permanent way to hit. These are generally the fastest runners on the team and are either left handed or taught how to slap left handed.
The "short game", as it is referred to in softball, is comprised of three techniques, two bunting types and the "slap". Bunting generally has two different purposes. Usually you are asking your player to either sacrifice bunt, meaning to move a current base runner to the next base, or to bunt for a hit also referred to as drag bunting, meaning getting on base safely. The sacrifice bunt is often the first bunt taught. The slap technique is used when the fielders are convinced the batter is going to bunt and are charging in to field the bunt. The object of the slap is to hit the ball just hard enough to get it past the on-rushing first or third basemen. With the slap, you hold the bat out as if to bunt then pull it back while shortening (choking up) on the bat by moving your lower hand up to where your "bunt pivot" hand is and taking a short chopping stroke.
A great set of videos on the short game is provided by SoftballPerformance.com and is called Winning the Short Game. As you know, the game of softball is generally a low scoring affair. The short game, or the ability to manufacture a run, could be the difference between winning and losing.
If you have a favorite softball hitting technique or drill, why not share it here with your fellow coaches to help improve the game of fastpitch softball overall!
If you are looking for hitting equipment, click on the pictures below for what you seek. Remember, if you do not see exactly what you are looking for, click on the name next to "store" where you will be able to make a more detailed search for exactly what you want. The fastpitch bats picture will take you to a page that will then provide a link by manufacturer (Easton v. Demarini, etc.). Click on link to the manufacturer you are looking for to find your bat.