The Softball Swing
Essay Preview: The Softball Swing
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Chapter One: Introduction
Over the past fifteen to twenty years womens fastpitch softball popularity has continued to grow and spread internationally. By the mid-1990s it was played in more than 85 countries under the eye of the International Softball Federation (ISF). It has become increasingly popular among women at the youth and collegiate levels. More than 630 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) member institutions sponsor womens softball programs, and national championships for women are held in all three NCAA sports divisions (Encarta, 1998). In 1991 womens fastpitch softball was selected to debut as a medal sport in the 1996 Olympic Summer Games in Columbia, Georgia. The U.S. won the gold medal in the 1996 Olympic Games due to a good defense and great hitters on the team. Even though defense and pitching are critical and vital parts of the game, a successful team must have an effective offense to win the game. Among all the standout hitters on the U.S. Olympic team, two of the best are Dot Richardson and Lisa Fernadez. Both Lisa and Dot have picture-perfect swings, which have made them very productive throughout their careers. Today there is a womens professional fastpitch softball league. Interest in the Womens Professional Softball League (WPSL) has been increasing for the last three years and continues to grow each year.
The researcher has chosen to write this paper on hitting because she has played softball for twelve years and the perfect softball swing has always eluded her. The softball swing is one of the most difficult softball skills to achieve greatness in. There are a number of great hitters all with different batting stances and styles, each one comfortable to them. There are many different tactics and coaching ideas out there to help improve hitting. In fact, there are several videos now on the market to help the softball player perform better. Coaches often teach hitting drills to improve batting techniques and ability. Confidence is an important factor in hitting. If the player lacks confidence then she will not be a good hitter. Softball is not only a physical game but a mental game.
The purpose of this paper is to describe the softball swing anatomically, mechanically, and analytically. By analyzing each move one makes when hitting, one will be able to analyze the errors made when hitting as a hitter and as a coach. The three phases that will be analyzed are the preparatory phase, the action phase, and the follow through phase. In the preparatory phase motions that will be analyzed are the grip of the bat and the batting stance. In the action phase the stride, arm motion, wrist action, hip action, and leg action will be analyzed. The final stage of the swing is the follow through phase and during this phase the proper follow through techniques will be analyzed to help prevent injury.
Chapter Two: Literature
In 1887 George Hancock invented softball as an indoor sport, according to Encyclopedia Encarta. The first softball games took place inside the Farragut Boat Club in Chicago. In 1895 a firefighter, Lewis Rober, invented outdoor softball to keep the firemen in shape and busy during the time they spent at the firehouse. Softball was first called Kitten Ball and the name softball was not developed until 1926 by Walter Hakanson (Encarta, 1998). Mr. Hakanson conceived of the idea while attending a meeting in Colorado to form the Colorado Amateur Softball Association. In 1933, the first national tournament organized by Leo Fischer and Michael Pauley took place in Chicago (Encarta, 1998). There are two types of softball – fastpitch and slow pitch. Even though fastpitch softball and slow pitch softball are very different, they share similar objectives and skills. Softball is played by both males and females of all ages and continues to grow in popularity every year. There are several different associations that softball teams belong to such as American Softball Association (ASA) and National Softball Association (NSA).
There are several skills required to become a good, strong, consistent hitter. The three most important mechanics of hitting that must be performed every time by the individual are the stride, the opening of the hips, and the arm action. Among all the skills involved in playing softball hitting proves to be the most difficult to attain. Hitting requires good hand-eye coordination, depth perception, and mental readiness. It is as much psychological as it is physical. Hitting requires and demands self-discipline, quickness, and specific reasoning. During each of the three phases certain mechanics must be performed each time to develop a good swing that will be further discussed in chapter 4.
In the preparatory phase the grip of the bat and batting stance will be analyzed. The selection of the proper bat is the very first thing that needs to be done in the softball before the swing can occur. The hitter needs to choose a bat that is the proper weight and length for his/her strength and body size (Houseworth, 1985). The most important objective to meet when choosing a bat is that it feels comfortable and is easy to swing. According to Houseworth, if a bat is too heavy, the swing will be slow and jerky and if the bat is too light, the batter might swing too early. After the player has selected the proper bat it is time to analyze the grip of the bat. For left-handed batters the right hand is against the knob and the left hand is on top and for right-handed batters the left hand is against the knob and the right hand is on top. The hitter should line up the middle knuckles of both hands while gripping the bat at the base of the fingers (Johnson, 1984). According to Houseworth, the bat should fit in the hands comfortably but firmly, with the fingers spread slightly apart and the thumbs at the top of each hand. If the batter needs more control over the bat, choking up is required. Choking up means moving the hands further up the handle away from the knob to gain control. This technique is used when the pitcher is fast, the batters swing is slow (not enough bat speed), or the batter is not strong enough to get the bat around.
The next part of the preparatory phase is the stance. The stance is the position the batter takes in the batters box. There are three different types of stances a batter may use; an open stance, a closed stance, or a square stance. In an open stance, the batter stands with the front foot toward the outside of the batters box (Houseworth, 1985). An open stance helps in a number of ways. First of all an open stance is helpful when facing a fast