Scouting would be easier if teams could take on-the-field batting practice before games that included live pitching. However, in most cases, teams have to hit pre-game off to the side using front toss or side toss.
So, with that in mind, here’s a way to chart your opponent’s hitters so you have some kind of defensive clue come game time.
Anytime you know your opponent ahead of time and can find out anything about their hitters it sure makes playing defense against them much easier. College coaches often have video on their opponents, or can watch them play on tv, or can call a coach and get a quick scouting report, but how many of you can do the same thing? Not many. Most of you are going into games blind and only have a few slim chances before a game to learn anything about your opponents.
It’s pretty common that most teams take their pregame hitting off the game field and over to the side someplace. It’s usually taken off some kind of limited front toss (using whiffle balls) or side toss. These are both very common forms of pre-game hitting and yet, for some reason, we don’t feel we can chart these opportunities.
Granted, these aren’t ideal scouting opportunities, but I’d rather have some information on my opponents than none at all. So, I’ve come up with a simple hitting chart your players can use to scout your opponents during their Pre-Game Hitting.
The Pre-Game Hitting Chart is meant to be used by 1 or more players, coaches or parents who simply watch the opposition take whatever type of batting practice they take and then mark down what they see.
Once they fill out the top part of the chart – listing the player’s name (if they know it), Number, circle whether the hitter is Lefthanded, Righthanded or a Slapper, what uniform color the hitter is wearing (since lots of teams have lots of uniforms), the game date and the game location –the chart is ready to be used to document how this player hits.
The completed Pre-Game Hitting Chart shows a bunch of dots now added to the chart and these dots have 2 different meanings:
- The Dots by the Hitting Figure – all represent a pitch or toss location. Each time this hitter either got a front toss or a side toss the person charting simply put a dot where the pitch was located, using the rectangle as a strike zone reference. The circles around the dots all represent tosses/pitches that the player swung at. So in looking at the completed chart you can quickly see that this hitter got 12 tosses/pitches and that she swung at 6 of them. We can also see that she swung at high tosses/pitches and left the lower ones alone.
- The How Hit? Section – to the right of the hitter are 3 different groups of blocks that help tell you how and where this hitter hit the ball. These blocks are designed to be easy to use by simply putting a dot in the block that matches how the player just hit that particular toss or pitch. For instance, If the toss was hit hard into the fence and toward the upper part of the fence and apparently pulled – then the person completing this form would put a dot in the Hard box (hard hit), Bottom box (hit bottom of ball so it went up), and the Pull box since she pulled the ball. Feel free to make these boxes easier to use with your own wording. So looking quickly at the blocks to the right I can see that this hitter hits most balls hard, in the air and to the pull side.
I know there’s far more you could do to complicate this hitting chart, but the whole idea is to create something that’s easy to use and that allows you – or your players – to chart the opposing hitters as you watch them take their pre-game hitting practice. Click this link to get your own blank version of the Pre-Game Hitting Chart.
I hope this helps you expand your brain when it comes to trying to creatively solve a particular issue (like pre-game scouting), and also give you a way to gather information on your opponents to use for pitch calling and defensive positioning.
For more help with charting, scouting and strategy check out the following:
- Book: Softball Strategies, Coverages, Signals & Charts
- eLearning: Vault Classic (best value – contains all of our eClinics, eDrills, ePractices and eSkills at one low monthly or annual fee)
- eClinic: Critical Counts: How to Stop the Walk
- eClinic: Essential Bunt Defenses
- eClinic: Defending 1st & 3rd Plays, Pickoffs and Steals
- eClinic: Defenses to Shut Down Slappers & Tie Breakers
- eClinic: Pitching Charts – How to Use Them to Win More Games
- Free: Cindy’s Hitting Chart