Expectations for U-High School Softball Players what skill sets should they be familiar with and fluent in when entering 9 th grade The fundamentals Defense ▪ Outfield & Infield Positioning ▪ Throwing ▪ Catching ▪ Receiving Offense ▪ Baserunning ▪ Outfield & Infield fielding techniques ▪ Hitting Philosophy ▪ Small Ball and the Speed Game “Playing the Game”
Fundamental skills that should be practiced daily regardless of level 1. Throwing 2. Catching 3. Receiving 4. Bunting 5. Baserunning 6. Typical Defensive Alignment/Depth *At the high school level we spend minutes each practice on #1-5* “When on defense SOFTBALL turns into a high level game of THROW & CATCH” starts with the fundamentals! “Offensively our main goal is to put the ball in play, preferably on the ground” put pressure on the DEFENSE!
Regular Depth (fundamental D) P/C – no worries Middle IF (2 nd /SS) ▪ 2-3 steps behind baseline ▪ 1-2 steps shaded towards 2B Corner IF (3 rd /1 st ) ▪ 1-2 steps behind baseline ▪ The distance away from the foul line of an aggressive secondary lead Outfield ▪ Depth depends on hitter ▪ LF directly between 2 nd & 3 rd ▪ CF directly behind 2 nd base ▪ RF directly hehind 1 st & 2 nd
Bunt D or IF In P/C – the same Middle IF (2 nd /SS) ▪ 1 step behind or even with baseline ▪ 1-2 steps shaded towards 2B Corner IF (3 rd /1 st ) ▪ 1-2 steps in front of pitching rubber ▪ The distance away from the foul line of an aggressive secondary lead Outfield ▪ Depth depends on hitter (creeping in slightly for back-up duties) ▪ LF directly between 2 nd & 3 rd ▪ CF directly behind 2 nd base ▪ RF directly behind 1 st & 2 nd
Offense (at bat, on deck, on double deck) Rhythm & Movement develops timing. X STATIC X YES – YES – (YES or NO) Mentality Defense (on release of pitch) Middle IF and Outfield ▪ STEP-STEP (creeping forward and attacking) ▪ Balls of your feet (no heel contact) Corner IF ▪ STEP-STEP (side to side since they are close to the batter) ▪ Balls of your feet (no heel contact) You will be surprised how difficult this is to accomplish each and every pitch of the game
Let’s get in the habit of: Picking up the 1 st base coach immediately after contact for a signal (this is our philosophy, especially for young athletes) ▪ BOTH HANDS pointing towards the base = Run Through ▪ HANDS UP / GOAL POSTS = Go 2 and pick up 3 rd base coach Awareness after running through 1 st base (listening to 1 st base coach “GO GO GO” Running Through 1 st Base ▪ Making contact (w/o lunging) on the front 1/3 of the base (not middle or back half) Rounding 1 st Base ▪ ? Method gets runner in best position to reach 2B/3B as quickly as possible ▪ No Deceleration ▪ Contact with front left corner of base with foot most comfortable for baserunner Sure extra base hit picking up the 3 rd base coach after touching 1B Tagging UP ▪ Runner on 3 rd < 2 Outs ▪ Get them trained to get back to 3B, into a strong running position, and wait for the 3B coaches cue to GO
Leading Methods (runners’ preference) Track Start (2 examples) ▪ Leave base at release of pitch ▪ Hard 2 steps ▪ Recognize pitch REACT Rocker Start ▪ Practice Timing start rocker during windup and leave base at release of pitch ▪ Make sure to not turn your back to the play Retrieving back to a base ▪ RIGHT foot FRONT LEFT corner of base (body as far away from play as possible) ▪ Step – Dive – RIGHT Hand FRONT LEFT corner of base
Track Lead #1 Track Lead #2 *Covering less distance is the key*
Bunting & The Speed Game Beats dominate pitching Objective to put the ball in play Put pressure on “D” Head Dunking Sacrifice Bunting Pivot vs. Square-Around Methods ▪ Same skills involved ▪ If executed perfectly they accomplish the same job
PIVOT Popular in our program Faster out of box Balanced Plate Coverage SQUARE-AROUND Sight of ball may be easier to track Comfortable for some Keys to a successful BUNT Balance Control Plate Coverage Knowing your *NEW* strike zone Hand Placement Grip on Bat
In the Batters Box Stand close enough so that once you pivot/square around the bat covers the entire place Hand Placement 1. Slide top hand to the top 1/3 of the bat (where barrel begins to fatten) 2. Slide top hand to the top 1/3 and bottom hand to bottom 1/3 of bat Grip is Critical! They must grab bat firmly ▪ Thumb on TOP – Pads of fingertips on bottom Body Positioning Athletic position bending at waist and knees Bat starts at the top of the strike zone
Bat Position Bat out in front of plate (cancels movement) ▪ Both arms almost completely straight ▪ “EYES” of bat on pitcher Bat is flat or angled slightly upwards It’s easier to lower bat than to raise it ▪ “landing a plane” Optimal bunt locations… Down 1 st base line Bermuda triangle #1 (pitcher-1B-C) Bermuda Triangle #2 (pitcher-3B-C)
Sacrifice Bunt vs. Bunting for a HIT SAC = show mid windup HIT = release of pitch Pivot Method The Difference is the timing of when to SHOW Drag Bunt Clear front leg Get into running position Bat extended out in front of plate First practice with bat already in position and have player RUN & Track Slap Clear Front Leg Running position Choke up – Chop Defense has to field these plays without hesitation = Pressure
What we have observed Arm discomfort Tendinitis Inconsistencies in arm strength Inconsistencies in throwing accuracy Little usage of trunk / lower half Smoothness, Rhythm, and Flow ? Stiffness and robotic-like movements
Every level (T-ball USA Team) breaks throwing down WHS Softball Throwing Progression Kneeling Wrist Toss (extension off fingertips) Kneeling Forward Trunk Twists & Extension Kneeling Side Trunk Twists & Extension Standing Cement Feet Trunk Twists & Extension Standing Side Trunk Twists & Extension Carioca Toss Long Toss Towel Drill Arm Placement, Hand Placement, Glove Tuck & Timing, Trunk Rotation, Linear Movement, Release & Extension
1. Never be Static – Always be moving 2. Expect an inaccurate throw 3. Beat ball to the spot 1. Double Plays 2. Cutoffs / Relays 3. Home to 2 nd / 3 rd 4. Rundowns 4. Throwing hand close to glove for smooth, fast, & efficient transition Keys to Success 1. Track ball all the way in to glove 2. (advanced/older) Position body in the direction/location of your next throw slightly before the reception of the ball (i.e. DP’s, Cutoffs, relays) WHS Softball Drills/Games/Contests Our Favorite Thing To Do 1. Around The Horn 2. “4 Corners” Follow your throw & communicate 3. Clockwise / Counterclockwise (w/o and w/ tags) timed
*Have defenders make THROWS whenever possible* Outfield Beat ball to Spot Have them practice running w/ their glove on Work on eliminating backpedaling Work on raising glove closer to the moment just before making a catch Throwing “Thumb to Thigh then reach for the Sky” = BIG “C” Demand strong, accurate throws w/ good extension Throw through cutoffs chest ▪ We are helpless with a ball over our heads. Keeping it low can provide a nice short hop or charity hop giving the fielder a chance at a play Fielding Field like an infielder – practice ground balls with IF
Outfield (cont.) *Proper progression is vitally important* Drills 3 Hops Kneeling Pop Ups QB Drop Back Hussle Drill or “X” Drill Between the Legs Basket Catch All in 1 Drill (hops-ground ball-basket-QB) Fence
Infield The TRIANGLE ▪ Hips / Knees bent evenly ▪ Field ball out in front (pre-pitch position) ▪ On balls of our feet ▪ Beat ball to spot ▪ Count the hops ▪ TRACK Ball Drills 5 Yard Drills (both directions) Backhands Rake Throughs (advanced) Short Hops Charging QB Drop Back Fence Drill “Elephant”
Our Defensive Philosophy: The opposing team may try something fancy on the base path but when a play is on we will dictate the tempo, route, pace of the play. We make the decisions for the baserunner, we don’t wait for the baserunner to make our decision Rundowns 1. Minimize Throws 2. Communicate 3. Throwing Path / Lane 4. *Shorten distance between throws* Practice Dart throws & Communication “You must play the game” to get skilled at this situation
Our Hitting Philosophy: 1. Have a solid pre at bat regimen that is repeated consistently 2. Visualize 1. To develop confidence and for timing purposes 3. Have some Rhythm & Movement throughout stance and pre pitch (NO STATIC) 4. Stay balanced 5. Make contact Put the ball in play & minimize strikeouts 1. Catch – Throw – Catch = Continuous Pressure on the Defense 6. Track Ball every pitch 7. YES-YES-NO or YES-YES- YES approach 8. Palm Up – Palm CONTACT 9. Balance 10. Be a situational hitter 1. Have a zone (if the 1 st pitch is there smash it) 2. Hitting mentality is different with a 0-0, 3-0, or 1-2 count 11. Hit ball well to ALL fields – Hit inside, middle, and outside pitches well 12. Remain Balanced
How far should you stand from a batting tee?
Middle of PlateInside PitchOutside Pitch Knob – Belly Button Sweet Spot on Ball A ball thrown down the middle of the plate should be driven up the middle Same Stance Have ball set up out in front of plate so the batter can drive the ball to left field Same Stance Have ball set up a little deeper in the zone so the batter can drive it to right field X rollover X to 3B/SS We are not fans of moving up or back in the box. We believe adjusting your rhythm, movement, and timing will help decrease frustration and allow for better balance and direct contact with the softball.
Components to a good IF/OF Everyone moving on every play Everyone talking/communicating Proper, sensible progression Flow High # of throwing, receiving, backing up repetitions WHS Softball IF/OF (time permitting roughly 8 min.) OUTFIELD straight home, RF to 1 st, 2 nd, 3 rd, home, 2 w/ cut, 2 w/o cut, 3 w/ cut, 3 w/o cut, (gappers with SS & 2B as cuts and 1b as trailer or double cut), Home w/ cut, home w/o cut INFIELD around the horn x2, home, 1 st, 1 and cover, double plays, infield charging to 1, bunt defense x4, (slap defense x8), catcher throw downs to 3B, 2B (ss/2b cover), 1B (in/out), home
Positive “Chatter” One of the few sports without a clock as we are free to speak as much or as little as we want On Offense Always talking, always encouraging, always UP if possible “It’s not WHAT you say it’s HOW you say it” On Defense Whether it’s a close game, lop-sided, slow moving we are always: ▪ Communicating to our fielders (team-pitcher, IF-IF, OF-OF, IF-OF) ▪ Reminding ▪ Communicating ▪ Encouraging ▪ Picking-up ▪ Celebrating the big play
Please feel free to contact me at any time and I will answer any questions that you may have about the topics discussed at today’s clinic or any other questions that may not have been covered during the presentation.