Bat Speed in Slow-Pitch Softball & Home-Run Swing Techniques
Strategies in bat selection and batting technique can lead to the coveted home run in slow-pitch softball. Send the ball deep into outfield or over the fence by delivering maximum bat-head speed as you swing through the hitting zone using a bat that feels comfortable in your hands and allows you to swing quickly.
The One Arm, Three-Second Test
Home run hitters want a bat with a large sweet spot and the maximum weight they can handle. Determine how much weight you can manage with the one-arm test. Hold the bat with one hand and raise it to shoulder height. If your arm shakes or you can't hold the bat for three seconds, use a lighter bat.
Increase Speed with Batter's Box Form
With your top hand, grasp your bat like a handshake, recommends Becky Wittenberg of Softball Spot. Grip the bat between your thumb and index finger. Pinching inside the thumb without the index finger results in slow bat movement. Keep your wrists loose and your bottom hand at the approximate top of the strike zone. Keep your shoulders relaxed, squared or with the front shoulder slightly dropped. A square stance gives you the most freedom within the batter's box. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointed toward homeplate. Standing in the rear of the batter's box, lean forward from the hips slightly with straight legs and touch your bat to the outside corner of the plate. Feel your weight balanced on the balls of your feet. Bend your knees slightly, and you are ready to hit your home run.
Wait for It . . . Wait for It
Batters in slow-pitch softball tend to swing the bat very hard at a speed between 81 and 89 mph, according to a study commissioned by the University of Illinois. Due to the greater slow-pitch softball batter preparation time compared to baseball and fast-pitch softball, the study supposes, slow-pitch batters can generate more speed and power in their swing.
Sock It To 'Em!
Take your position at the batter's plate and square your front shoulder to the pitcher. Generate home run power and greater bat-head speed in slow-pitch softball by taking a shuffle step toward the pitcher. Gain momentum by leading with your left arm -- if you are a right-handed batter -- and pull the bat through the hitting zone. At the beginning of the swing, let your power arm take over to drive the bat across the plate with as much velocity as you can muster while still maintaining control. Finish your swing with a slight uppercut to get the ball high in the air.
When the Time is Right, That's Sweet
Recognize your bat's sweet spot -- which is located 5 to 7 inches from the bat barrel end -- by feeling the vibrations when you hit the ball. The sweet spot allows you to hit with the greatest speed and least amount of sensation in your hands, according to Daniel A. Russell, Ph.D of the Pennsylvania State University. Once you locate the sweet spot, you are ready to combine power and speed with timing. Make contact with the ball on the sweet spot just before the ball crosses home plate for maximum velocity on your swing.
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.