Why Am I Getting Under the Ball When I Hit a Softball?
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Hitting the ball consistently in a slow-pitch softball leagues may not satisfy you. While hitting line drives to all fields will make you a dangerous hitter, you may prefer the sensation of hitting the long ball and becoming known as a home-run hitter. It's a gratifying feeling to watch the ball disappear over the fence, but swinging for distance can be one of the reasons you get under the ball and start popping it up.
To hit the ball effectively, start at bat with your weight on your back leg and move it to your front leg as the pitch comes in and you swing. Shifting your weight from your backside to your front side should be done with a short, quick move. A player who does it by taking a big stride will change his perspective on the ball as it approaches the plate. He sees it at one level when it leaves the pitcher's hand but notices it at a lower level after he takes a big stride. As a result, he does not have his bat in the correct position at impact and he hits the lower part of the softball and pops it up.
Picture this scenario: A player walks into the batter's box and sees the fence 250 feet or more in the distance. He wants to hit the ball over that fence. To do that, he needs to get the ball high in the air so it has a chance to disappear over the fence after contact. An uppercut swing, when executed correctly, will help the player hit that long ball. But if the ball is not struck perfectly or there is late movement on the ball that the hitter had not anticipated, the result of the uppercut swing will be a popup because the hitter got underneath it.
Rushing the Swing
Hitting at any level is all about timing. Some of the best power hitters in softball and baseball do it with a swing that looks effortless to the bystander. A perfect swing features excellent timing on the part of the batter. A hitter who is anxious will rush his swing, which may force a right-handed batter to open up with his left side and get under the ball and pop it up.
Stepping in the bucket is a fundamental flaw that impacts softball and baseball players. One of the keys to a proper weight shift is making sure the step in the batter's box is a small one and that it is done with the lead foot heading straight toward the pitcher. If a left-handed batter pulls off the ball and steps to first base, the ball will hit off the end of the bat, and the hitter may pop it straight up or in the direction of the first baseman. This is known as "stepping in the bucket." Avoid stepping in the bucket if you don't want to pop the ball up.
Good softball hitting is all about timing and practice. Hitters need to have regular batting practice so they can hone their swing and feel confident when they step up to the plate. Softball players who play once a week and don't take batting practice may wonder why they are "just missing" every time they come to the plate. It's usually a lack of practice. Getting in 10 to 15 minutes of batting practice two or three times per week can make all the difference for a good softball player.
Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman authored The Minnesota Vikings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Who's Better, Who's Best in Football -- The Top 60 Players of All-Time, among others, and placed in the Pro Football Writers of America awards three times. Silverman holds a Master of Science in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism.