Baseball, softball, and fastpitch softball are all popular sports in the United States. Many parents wish to let their children engage in softball games to encourage them to be physically active. However, to have an excellent competitive season, we must put up a significant effort. Coaches committed to their players will constantly develop appropriate softball workouts and practice regimens.
This essay will walk you through the most often encountered drills. In addition, we will provide you with some pointers on how to create effective practice plans.
A Tale of Two Halves
This session will be scheduled for two hours, with the first half of your time spent on defense is the most important. The practices remaining should be devoted to offensive and competitive drills and activities. Being able to execute on defense and master the fundamentals will aid you in winning games. In the long run, giving out free-outs will lose you games.
Softball Drills and Practice Plan: Defense
After warming up, completing band work to stabilize the shoulder, and throwing, start including a few drills for your infielders to improve their hands and overall performance. It is critical to begin doing bands at 11 or 12 to ensure that the shoulder and back muscles remain balanced and prevent damage later in life.
The first is a set of three drills designed to improve short hop ability. This will involve both players getting down on their knees and throwing short hops at each other.
Short Hops Barehanded (5 min)
Training the hands to be soft and to have a good feel for the motion through and playing the ball, rather than having her play the ball, are two essential aspects of the game. Her fingers should be directed down, and her wrist slightly cocked back, with the arm closer to the body being used first and working her way through the softball.
- Facing each other, down the middle x5
- Turn body 90 degrees, backhand x5
- Turn body the other way, forehand x5
After completing five reps working on the forehand, straight on, and backhand, instruct both players to get up and perform the same sequence without using a glove, with their feet working “right, left field.” The arms should be bent, the knees should be bowed, and the hips should be hinging. The last sequence will be performed using a glove. These basic warm-up drills should become a regular part of your warm-up regimen. If you have the opportunity, increase the number of repetitions. Motivate them to practice this at home, against a wall, using a tennis ball, to develop their abilities.
Infield/Outfield (15-20 min)
Another essential part of baseball and softball is getting reps and throws from all locations and to all bases consistently, regardless of the sport. This aids in the development of arm strength and the acquisition of reads in the outfield and repetitions in the infield.
- a pair of throws to second place from the left, center, and right
- a pair of throws to third base from the left, center, and right
- Throws to the goal from the left, center, and right
- It is essential to concentrate on throwing past the cutoff on the initial throw; if it gets cut, it gets cut.
- The second throw to home plate is a “do or die” situation where the outfielder attempts to throw out the winning run. The cutoff man should not contact the ball at any point.
- After the outfielders have gotten their fill of throwing to bases and fielding ground balls and fly balls, line them up in the center of the field and (depending on which dugout you’re in) have a coach hit more fly balls and ground balls to the outfielders from the foul line, working on coming through the ball and getting into a good throwing position for the next pitch.
Ground balls should be hit to third, short, second, and then first as you go around the infield. You should try to have two coaches hitting ground balls if possible.
- The throws to first are made by the third baseman, the shortstop, and the second baseman. The first baseman makes the throw third.
- This should be repeated twice more, challenging your infielders and moving them to the glove side and the backhand.
- Two double plays, repositioning the fielders and putting them through their paces. The first baseman will make the throw to second and attempt to return to the base before the ball is out of bounds.
Two balls with the infield in:
- The players will check their runners and throw to first. THEY MUST LOOK AT THIRD to freeze the fictitious runner in the first round.
- To get the runner on a TAG play, throw to the plate at chest height or below, and make quick transitions from receiving to throwing to the plate in the second scenario. Allow the catcher to choose which of the two players they want to bring home or send to first base. By having them yell, “check her, go 1,” or “4, 4, 4!” they will be more alert.
- Infielders should be moved back behind the baseline, approximately 6 feet throw to first (1b makes the throw home), and they should be rolled a slow roller so they can make the throw to first on the run. On the move, make one regular throw and one short throw.
The key to having a successful infield and outfield is energy. Every play and rep requires the squad to be loud and communicate effectively. This sets the tone for how you will play in practice and games before they occur. A solid infield-outfield before a game can do wonders for a team’s morale, and nothing is more terrifying than a loud and clean infield-outfield right before the start of a game.
Pitchers are People too.
Throwing regimens or specific plans that your coach has for the staff should have been completed by pitchers before joining the team.
Pitching in a competitive environment is crucial. As the season approaches (and during the season), pitchers should become accustomed to throwing to a batter in the batter’s box, according to Baseball America. This can help you feel more confident when throwing pitches like the backdoor curve or changeup. Even when a batter is only standing in its box, pitchers can sense how much their pitches break. Standing in on your pitcher’s bullpen sessions is one of the most effective drills for teaching pitch recognition to hitters, on the other hand.
Ages 10 and Under
As a rule of thumb, have youth softball hitters stand 2 feet away from the home plate to have ample time to move out of the way if they are in danger. As soon as the hitter determines whether or not they will swing, have them respond with a yes or no. This is beneficial to both the batter and the pitcher!
Ages 10 and Over
To simulate holding a bat, the batter should stand in the same spot in the box where they typically do, with their normal hitting posture, and pretend they are holding a bat by interlocking the pinky of their top hand with the pointer finger of their bottom hand.
Hitchhikers can imitate a live-at-bat as they get more confidence in their abilities.
Balls and strikes are “swinging” and “taking” in this game. Because their fingers are interlocked, “swinging” will feel different than it would if they were holding a bat, but it is still an excellent technique to provide feedback to the hitter, work on their timing, and assist the pitcher. The pitcher can see what a natural hitter would swing at or what they would observe passing by on the field. If the hitter is concerned about her safety, she can put on a glove and grab the ball if it comes near to hitting her in the face.
We propose that all pitchers use a Spin Right Spinner to help them throw more strikes. In addition to teaching the proper method to throw different pitches (rise ball, curveball, screwball, change), using a spinner is an excellent tool for pitchers to use daily when warming up. Because the design of the spinner provides immediate feedback to the pitcher and catcher as to whether or not the spin is accurate or incorrect, getting it to spin appropriately for each pitch takes a lot of practice. Still, it will undoubtedly aid in promoting the correct tight spin that you desire regardless of whether you are a power pitcher or a rubbish ball pitcher. It is seen in this video from Sports Science just how effective and difficult it can be to hit pitchers who spin their pitches.
21 outs (20-25 min)
This softball practice drill is where the practice will begin to take on a competitive feel as the season progresses. Option #1 is appropriate for an elite team, option #2 is suitable for an intermediate group, and option #3 is ideal for younger couples or teams who struggle to make routine plays.
Softball Drills and Practice Plan: Offense
This is when your practice must be conducted with precision and intensity. The squad must remain focused throughout the hitting portion because it provides infielders and outfielders with live game reads – something that cannot be provided with a fungo – and a chance for baserunners to obtain reads. You can alternate between having defense and attack as your first assignment on any given day. It helps to keep things interesting!
The first part of this segment will remain alive and effective as long as the players keep hitting the stations and rotating. The importance of quality over quantity in these hitting drills cannot be overstated since you do not want your batters to tire themselves out and take useless swings; instead, you want your hitters to take swings that will help them become better.
Obtain the services of a speaker and go to work. FloSoftball has put together an energetic playlist to keep the party going. In addition, here are a few possibilities for portable speakers you might like.
And believe us when we say that your athletes will thank you for it! If you’re not tech knowledgeable, one of your players has a smartphone and knows how to connect it to a computer through Bluetooth, so long as it’s fully charged and charged up. If you have very young children, learn how to use your phone or a parent or coach’s phone to communicate with them.
Softball Hitting Drills for Practice
To execute a successful softball hitting practice, we at The Hitting Vault feel that there should be at least four stations that you rotate through to be productive. This reduces the number of time players spend standing around and allows you to make the most of the limited time available during practice.
The most important thing about softball-hitting practice is that quality always takes precedence over quantity. It is far more crucial to get quality reps and swing actions in batting practice than to take hundreds of useless swings.
The softball practice schedule that you’ll see here is divided into four sections, each focusing on a different aspect of the game: the tee, the front throw, and live pitching.
Station One: Movement Station
It takes a lot of effort to hit a softball hard from the bottom up. Having a powerful lower half resulting from proper rotation and weight transfer will aid in the development of power, regardless of your size or weight. Hitting for power does not necessarily imply hitting a softball 350 feet or attempting to complete the home run cycle, as in the case of Arkansas’ Danielle Gibson’s home run cycle. Specifically, we mean that hitters, regardless of their physical size, should be capable of hitting the ball hard, through gaps, and off the wall, if not over it, if they use the proper body movements.
Using the separation practice, you can get a better sense of hip and shoulder separation, which is essential when hitting a softball.
Notice how Coach Alexa Peterson’s shoulders have remained stationary while her hips have turned toward the pitcher, allowing her to generate power while creating separation in her swing.
Full Turns Drill
A powerful softball swing is one of the most challenging things to master in sports, but the movements that make up a powerful softball swing are relatively straightforward. The Full Turns drill is short, but it is highly effective. The whole turn drill is designed to help you activate your core and build strength in your lower half to make more assertive and more aggressive turns throughout your swing.
To complete this drill, there are three progressions:
- Pause in launch position, then complete the movement
- No pausing, the entire movement
- No pause, entire movement off front toss
Station Two: Tee Drills
A crossover drill is an excellent approach to developing forward and through-the-ball momentum while emphasizing a solid K stance. This will benefit hitters who tend to collapse their backsides and have difficulty keeping their balance throughout the swing. Incorporating a controlled fall into the beginning position of the cross-over allows the player to feel the body moving towards the tee box.
Slow to Fast Drill
The slow to rapid drill assists hitters in developing a solid sense of rhythm. Hitters who are eager and stride too rapidly, too aggressively, or just out of control are frequently encountered by coaches. Using the principle of slow to fast, also known as dead to the explosion, helped one MLB hitter go from 14 home runs to 50 home runs in a single season by adopting this approach.
To complete this drill, your batters should concentrate on being slow and in control until they reach a decent launch position, after which they should explode at full speed and complete their swing.
The slow-to-fast drill helps batters feel the load in their back hip and develop the ability to regulate their stride and explode when they hit the ball hard. Hitters can often enhance their bat speed by simply adopting this mentality and rhythm of slow to rapid in their swing movements, which they can achieve with this level of control in their swing motions.
See Saw into Contact
The See-Saw into contact drill should be the last drill performed in the tee drill station before moving on to the next exercise. This activity will serve as an excellent warm-up for the exercises we’ll be doing in front of the toss at the following station. To practice barrel control through contact and then make sure your elbows are in the proper position at the point of touch, this drill is designed for you to use. Check to see that the hands are not touching the barrel.
Begin by getting into a suitable launch posture, as seen in the illustration below:
In this drill, you’ll want the hitter to pause when he contacts the ball. Please note how Coach Peterson’s top and bottom elbows are bent, how her hands are palm up and palm down, and how she maintains excellent bat control in this position. This causes a movement that puts the hitter on the plane of the striker.
Please take note of the fact that her back toe is pressing into the ground in this photo. This occurs after she has made contact with the softball and has so essentially recovered her equilibrium. When you touch the bug, you should not squish it, and your rear foot should be completely weightless. As shown in this photo, it is acceptable for the toes to land on the ground after contact.
Station Three: Front Toss Drills
It is now time to combine these drills into more complex movements and integrate timing with the front toss technique.
Get on Plane Drill
Hitters can benefit from the get on plane drill because it prevents them from chopping at the ball and using their torso tilt to respond to pitches. A practical path to softball will be created, which will lead to a better launch angle, faster exit speed, and eventually more hits!
To begin this drill, have your hitter face off against the pitcher. Then, as they swing, they will want to concentrate on twisting their hips and getting the softball bat to follow them behind them.
Bat Path Drill
The bat route drill is yet another drill that builds on the skills learned in the previous exercises. This is because feeling the movement of the bat descending into a seesaw position while also feeling the heel drop will aid in exaggerating the barrel working behind them first, rather than rushing towards the ball, which will assist the hitter hit the ball more consistently.
The batter should execute 3-5 reps of feeling his heel descend, and his bat falls into the plane at the exact moment before throwing the ball and completing the swing to integrate this into his front toes.
Finish Your Swing (or turn) Drill
To finish up the front toss station, we’ll practice extra rotation after hitting the ball to bring it to a close. For this drill, you’ll want your hitters to exaggerate the finish of their swing and pause at the top of the plate for emphasis. After halting, their back should be visible to the home plate, and they should not be pulling their head toward the plate.
We stress the need for rotation to our batters for them to harness their powerfully. As essential as it may seem, it is critical to achieving a solid swing. The Finish Your Swing drill is terrific for helping hitters grasp what it feels like to complete a whole spin.
Station 4: Live
Coach Lisle has stated on numerous occasions that getting to live to pitch as soon as possible is a critical aspect of practice to concentrate on. At The Hitting Vault, the sequencing of a solid baseball or softball hitting session is referred to as tee work, front toss, and finally, live pitching, depending on the sport. Tee work and front toss stations are excellent areas to concentrate on getting your hitters warmed up and feeling swing movements, but you want to ramp up the competition to live to pitch as soon as possible.
When viewing “live” pitching during your softball practice, the following is the order of preference.
- Live off an actual pitcher who throws natural pitches in real-time.
- Hitters can improve their timing and accuracy by practicing with balls and strikes. Pitchers can observe what a hitter would swing at and what they would avoid swinging at together. You can start with a 0-0 count or switch the order they start!
- Negatives- If you have a limited pitching staff, keep an eye on how many pitches your pitchers are throwing at a time.
- Coach throwing live batting practice.
- Among the advantages include concentrating on individual pitches for hitters, painting the corners, and work angles both inside and outside the strike zone. This is also beneficial for preserving the arms of your pitching crew during the long season.
- Some instructors may not be able to match the pace and movement that batters will see from a live pitcher their age, which is a disadvantage. It takes time and effort to throw effective batting practice, and there is an art!
- Pitching Machine
- Advantages: You can easily recreate the pitch velocity and location your hitters will most likely encounter during a game.
- A disadvantage is that timing can be an issue for some batters when they first come out of the machine. It comes down to the fact that watching the softball from a device is very different from seeing it live out of the pitcher’s hand. In practice, we want to create an environment as near as feasible to that of a live sporting event.
If you had to choose between live pitching and machine pitching, live pitching would be your first choice every time. Live pitching is not only good for hitters. It allows them to distinguish between balls and strikes and improves timing, but it is also highly beneficial for pitchers in that it will enable them to determine if a batter will genuinely swing at a pitch or not.
Live batting practice should be divided into two rounds: the job is completed and another in which the swings are unleashed.
Round One: Getting the Job Done
The goal here is to put the ball in play and move runners into scoring positions or score them.
- Bunts X2
- Hit and run X2
- Angle down to drive in the runner X2
- Regular swings to drive in the runner X6
Runners must be receiving game speed reads in this situation. Essentially, they should be stealing the ball if it is a hit and runs. However, they must determine whether or not they should go back and tag the ball straight away after the crash. All of these things must be played out by the defense. Practice becomes more competitive as a result, exercises get more rapid, and your team becomes better.
Round Two: Swing Away
Defense makes plays, and hitters have between six and ten swings to inflict injury. However, these hitters require their hacks, so the pitcher should alternate between side-to-side and up-and-down pitches, with the occasional rise ball thrown in for variety.
To ensure that each group gets as many reps as possible before entering the competition round, rotate them through the rounds two or three times. When it comes to batting practice, remember that quality always wins over quantity, so make sure your batters take excellent swings.
Coach Frank Niles deserves credit for this one. The competition round enabled high school teams to win games because it added a deep intensity, competition, and enjoyment to the end of practice. Select three captains and assign them the responsibility of drafting teams.
One team will hit the ball, while the other two will defend the ball. After the competition round, the team with the most significant number of points will be declared the winner. Reward the team for their success, and be imaginative in your approach. One popular strategy is to relieve the winning team of the responsibility of picking up the equipment at the end of practice.
The squad that will be hitting will have three rounds to shoot and earn points for their efforts.
If they’re old enough, you can introduce another level of competition by telling them that if they watch a strike go by or swing at a ball, their at-bat is ended for that round, and the bat is passed to the next person.
If you get a hit on your first swing, you get the point. There will be no points awarded if the answer is anything else.
Double plays can be turned by the defense (4 second time restriction) to take away 2 points from the hitting team.
The team’s hitters will still have one more swing at the ball. A point will be granted regardless of whether it is a hit or an error. If an out is recorded, there will be no points awarded.
Double plays can be turned by the defense (4 second time restriction) to take away 2 points from the hitting team.
If it is a hit, the team hitting is worth a point, and the hitter remains on the court until she has no more issues with recording. The third round becomes very noisy and intense. As long as they keep the ball in play for a hit or an error, batters can get hot and stay hotter longer.
All of the teams will get an opportunity to hit the ball. The defense must make plays under the duress of a pressure simulation. Because of the 21 outs and the competition round, and the integration of these elements, practice will become more intense and competitive.
Hopefully, the information in this post will assist you in developing good softball practices. Encourage your players to practice regularly, and we feel the results you will see will be well worth the effort.