As a longtime softball player and now a coach, I have often noticed hitters struggle to have their swings catch up to the pitch velocity of some of the faster pitchers. How to hit a softball fastball? The key to success, I’ve found, is having a strong side tilt that allows the rest of the swing to properly fall into place. What is “tilt”? It’s the angle of the front side of the swing, and it’s important because it speeds up the rest of the swing.
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If you look at the video at the top of this post, you’ll see a hitter who has almost no strong front side to hit against. This causes her to lunge at incoming pitches. Her nose and hip are right on top of her foot.
Here are some drills to help you achieve the proper tilt.
The High Heel Drill puts athletes in the correct lower-body position to repeatedly achieve the proper movement patterns for their swing. Step up to the tee and place your legs in the position you need to be in to hit. Once you are in this position, swing the bat at about 50 percent of normal speed. This a technique drill, not a power drill.
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After the High Heel drill, progress to the Step Back Drill. To perform it, get into your batting stance and take a short step backwards with your back leg. Load your hands as if you were trying to pull the bat apart, which puts more power into your swing. Swing the bat and unload into the ball without taking a normal forward stride.
This is also known as the Toe Tap drill. Begin by balancing on your back leg, then bring your front foot to your back foot and load your hands back. After a slight pause, once the ball of your front foot touches the ground, step forward and unleash a powerful swing. Your main focus: don’t fall on the front side; instead, hit up against a strong front side.
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For the Banded Walk-Up drill, set up normally to a tee, then assume the same feet-together position as the High Knee Drill. Take a step forward with your front foot, keeping your weight over your rear leg and hands back. When your front foot lands, all of your momentum should transfer from your backside into the ball on the tee. To ensure you create the proper tilt in your swing, your coach can add a band and provide resistance from behind.