One of the more amazing things I have come to understand about hitting is this:
Hitting is the skill of mastering a long list of simple things!
This definition of hitting is both exciting and scary, at the same time. Exciting because it leads us to understand that hitting is something that, with work, all players can drastically improve. Scary because, doing hitting well requires a player to continually improve a long list of different skills that can get off track very quickly.
Picture a chain where there are about 15 links. Each one of these links supports another. They start from the ground and work their way up.
Depending on the terms you use you have a stride, load, transition, separation and on and on the list goes.
These links lead to the torso and how the body helps to transfer energy into the swing. That ties into the arms, hands, launch angle and contact point. And not to be lost in the chain in the head, eyes, vision and decision making.
Each link in the chain is crucial. If one link breaks the swing breaks down. When that link breaks, all the work the player has done to improve their swing is lost. Not destroyed but misplaced.
So players have to continually work on the consistency of each of these small skills, the links of the chain, so that their hitting will continue to gain consistency and effectiveness.
Well, as usual, the answer is yes and no.
Yes, because through good drills and practice each of these links can become stronger and stronger. There is no limit to how much a player, who is willing to work hard, can improve these skills. They can make each of these simple skills better and better over time.
No, because players are not naturally motivated to work really hard on simple skills for a prolonged period of time. They get bored and want something new and exciting to do. You are letting them down if you can’t keep it exciting.
One of my talented young hitters had started to get bored with my routine. She even complained to her parents that she was getting tired of my style because I kept saying the same things, over and over. Mom and Dad held firm and asked her to keep listening and to do her best to do what we were working on.
Long story short, now that she is hitting bombs on a regular basis, I’m not so boring! Or at least the reason for the repetition is starting to make sense.
Hitting is simple, sort of!
About the Author: Tory Acheson brings a wealth of knowledge to the Fastpitch Prep staff. He has coached at all levels of the game, including the last 25 years at the college level at the University of Wisconsin – Parkside, Tennessee Tech and Kennesaw State. He began his coaching career at the high school level spending 9 years Whitnall High School in Greenfield, Wis. and is now working as a professional softball instructor.