Our first-ever Hitting Summit was a huge success, and while I know that everyone couldn’t be there, I want to share my Top Hitting Summit Takeaways to help your hitters get better!
Discover what I learned from Mike Candrea (U. Arizona), Carol Hutchins (U. Michigan), Diane Miller (U. Nebraska), Tim Walton (U. Florida) and Karen Weekly (U. Tennessee) that will help you improve your hitters!
Just like the speakers at the Pitching Summit, our Hitting Summit speakers spent far more time talking about how to communicate with their hitters than they did talking the mechanics of hitting. Sure, we had a few mechanics discussions, but far and away the speakers spent way more time talking about how to help their hitters calm down, or believe in themselves, or relax. After listening to so much greatness throughout the week, it’s obvious to me that the best coaches in the won-loss column are the best at reaching their players. They all put their players first, and every one of them said over and over how important it is for them to find a way for their hitters to feel good – not tear them apart and feel bad.
Hitting is difficult enough when you’re believing in yourself – it’s nearly impossible when you’ve lost all confidence and are only thinking about mechanics. I learned this week that we’ve got to help their mechanics in such a way that they never get in the way of the hitter – either mentally or physically.
With that said, here’s a list of my Top Takeaways from this year’s 2017 Hitting Summit:
- The Very Best Coaches are the Very Best Learners!
- You Can Never Share too Much! Knowing doesn’t make you successful, executing does and that’s why the very best coaches are not afraid to share everything they know, because it still comes down to which team can execute what they know the best.
- Make things go wrong in practice and get screwed up – that’s what happens in games and our job as coaches is to prepare our players to succeed in games. I used to want my practices to look good, but I realized I really want my team to play good in games.
- We need to do less talking as coaches and far more listening. Especially with our freshmen.
- The stronger their grip, the faster their bat speed and the faster their throw.
- The front foot has to be down by the time the ball is ½ way to the plate.
- The Wider the hitter’s stance – the more she’ll get back in her legs during the load. The Narrower the hitter’s stance – the more she’ll get down in her legs during the load.
- We make almost no mechanical changes with our hitters in the fall. They’re already overwhelmed and we just want them to settle in and get comfortable.
- Most hitters are on time or early, they’re rarely late.
- If your hands get outside the elbow during the swing then you can only swing around the ball.
- Teach your players how to breathe to relax, versus breathing to survive!
- Slapping has to start with the Bunt. Once the slapper can bunt you can teach her to soft slap and eventually hard slap.
- You want your slappers to get to 1st base in 13 or fewer steps!
- At contact, your slappers should have their nose over their toes – we never talk about their front shoulder.
- A swing and a miss is just a strike! We teach power and we know that with that will come swings and misses. We don’t teach them to swing and miss but we also don’t freak out when it happens.
- We talk a hitter’s strengths more than her weaknesses. Players want to talk and focus on their negatives on their quest to perfection – and you won’t be perfect in softball. Focus on your strengths!
- If you change anything with a hitter – don’t take away what they’re good at!
- I care about: do they swing at strikes and do they take balls.
- Shrink the reps and get more quality. Instead of 20 pitches in batting practice, take 3 and then switch with a partner.
- When the zone is wide don’t let it hurt your early count hitting – only adjust to the umpire’s zone when you have 2 strikes – otherwise you’re swinging at pitches you can’t hit well, and shouldn’t be trying to hit.
And since we held two Summits this year for the first-time ever, the Pitching and the Hitting Summits, here are my takeaways that all 10 speakers mentioned that apply to any player and any skill.
- Talk Less, Watch More!
- Let the Freshmen settle in without changing things right away (and in most cases, “right away” meant the entire Fall season!)
- Remind any player that’s struggling how Good they are! That you recruited them because they had talent and that talent hasn’t left. It’s also a good reminder to us as coaches to remember that each one of our players is good and that’s why we asked them to become part of our team.
- Coach the Good back out of them instead of focusing on the “bad” that they might be doing right now.
- Spend more time getting to know each of your players. Schedule individual time with them in the fall, even if it’s only 5 minutes a week – it’s time well spent!
- Give your players playing time in February or you won’t have them in April!
- Talk less mechanics to help their mind quiet down under pressure.
Here’s some more Hitting help:
- How to Hit in Games Like You Do in Practice
- Successful Hitting through a Detailed Knowledge of the Swing