Softball Flaws and Fixes – Lack of Focus

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 21,830
    Softball coach Suzy Willemssen discusses lack of focus.

    Suzy Willemssen: Hi, I am Suzy Willemssen and I am Head Coach for the Blue Jays Gold, that's an 18 under Junior Olympic Girls' Fast Pitch Softball team. We are talking about common hitting flaws in softball and their fixes. The drill we are going to discuss right now is called Pitch Hit. Again, give in a tool for your players to take to the game to help them with their focus. They got to keep on task, they got to be able to block out all the little gremlins, the parents, the coaches, the umpires, so when they are in the batter's box, they are sole focussed on seeing the ball, hitting the ball hard and what you want your players to do is go in with one conscious thought and when we are doing the pitch hit, I am going to pitch it to Megan and again, she is going to say, "Pitch," and then when she hits the ball, she is going to say, "Hit."Again, filling her brain with a conscious thought to help her keep focussed and it is amazing that how well the players do when they are actually focussed on something and again, when we are focussing on things, we always want to make sure it is a positive thought. If you say, "I don't want to strike-out." All your brain hears is, 'Strike Out.' It can't tell the difference between don't and do. So again, anything we are thinking of, we always want it to be a positive thought, what we want to do, hit the ball hard, hit the ball square and that's going to come up to you as a player of what's going to work best for you. But pitch hit, it is going to help us on focus. Then I would like to add a couple of different wrinkles, I will ask the player where it hit the ball. The top of the ball is going to be one, middle of the ball would be two, that would be square, the bottom of the ball would be three. Then, I might ask Megan after she hits the ball, where was it on her bat, with one being at the end of the bat, two being at the middle of the bat, more on the SweetSpot and then three being towards the hand. So again, whenever she hits the ball, she hopes it is a two and she is going to say, 'Pitch Hit' to keep her with her focus. Also, I want to mention, whenever your players -- you are doing front toss with your players, it has been scientifically proven that once the ball gets in around 15-10 feet within the batter, the brain, the eyes cannot process the image fast enough to make an adjustment. So when you are doing the front toss, tell your players to look at the screen and don't follow the ball into their contact point because in a game, they are not going to be able to track something coming 60, 62 we will say, even up to 50 miles an hour. The game happens too quickly. So when you are doing your practice and you are having them look at the screen, in the game situation that is the last moment when their brain has figured out this is where the bat needs to be. So sometimes, players wonder why when they go to a game, they are not as successful while they have been taught to watch the ball hit their bat and so the ball is coming in on a front toss, say 15, 20 miles an hour, well, yeah, they can track it all the way and make the adjustment, that's not real life. So again, most people even need to start their swings when you get into the low 60's level when the ball is about 25 feet away. If you haven't decided to start to swing, it is going to be too late. When you are swinging, every time you are in the batter's box, it is a "Yes! I am going to hit that pitch." So you have one decision? No, but that happens way ahead of time and again, we want to train our eyes as well to be game like. So have your players, tell them to look at the front toss screen and look out there. Now I know some of you like to say if your players' - their shoulders are flying out, keep your head on the ball. But again, a lot of times, our shoulders are flaring out is if our hands are getting too out in front and forecasting and for getting our hands in the way, again, some of those other drills should help with that part as well. But let me get back. We are doing pitch hit, focus, timing on the ball, one-two-three on the bat, one-two-three. Again, I encourage Megan to be looking to the screen to train her eyes as well. Again, Megan will say, "Pitch, Hit," a little different than our right now drill. This is more on focus but the right now is going to help focus as well. Megan, where was that on the ball? Megan: Four?

    Suzy Willemssen: That's more like a one, two on the bat, great job. Then you can encourage your player as well to think in terms of the five and six. Again, I am trying to have it come right at me. There we go, make an adjustment. If you mis-hot the ball like you would in the game. Good job. I would say that was a two-two. Where would that one be?

    Megan: It went on the ball. Suzy Willemssen: Yeah, it went on the ball top. Again, it is great once the players can determine awareness of where they are hitting the ball, they will be able to make the corrections and you as a coach, that's your job to teach the players, give them the tools, you are not going to be in the batter's box with them and we want them to be able to make the adjustments as well. So we will do one more pitch hit and then we will move on to our next softball drill which is going to be a vision drill, a reverse ball call.