If you had a dollar for every time you heard a coach, parent or teammate say this at the ballpark you would be a very wealthy person.
If you had $10 dollars for every time you saw a player swing at a ball over her head right after someone told her not to do it, you would be a millionaire!
And if you had $100 for every time you heard a coach yell in anger, ” I just told you to lay off the rise ball” you could solve the national debt.
Now there are other versions of this ball park classic:
“Nothing above your hands!”
“Don’t chase the rise ball!”
and so on…
Here’s the problem with that strategy: Trust me when I say your players hear what you are saying and are really, and I mean really, trying to follow your instructions. Your players understand this concept at the conscious level. They know that they should never swing at a ball that is that high. Unfortunately, they don’t really make decisions in the heat of the battle completely in their conscious mind.
If you want your players to follow this ball park gem, you need to practice not swinging at the rise ball!!
What the hell do you mean, practice not swinging?
Here you go:
1. Set up a tee at the very top of the strike zone. (Use a bucket or box if your tee isn’t tall enough).
2. Ask your players to approach this ball with the same aggressive mindset they approach all other swings with, a YES, YES, YES approach.
3. After they get comfortable swinging at the pitch at the top of the strike zone. Raise the tee up higher.
4. Repeat until your players feel the uncomfortable feeling of swinging up hill! This is the point where they start to understand what it “feels”l like to swing at the rise ball that is too high to hit.
5. Start the drill over and tell them that they should keep that YES, YES, YES approach until they feel the same feeling of swinging up hill that they just felt. When they start to feel the up hill swing they now become a YES, YES, NO! hitter.
Now that your hitters know what it “feels” like to do the things that you have been telling them, you are in business. After you work on this drill your players now know what it really means to lay off the rise ball.
Congratulations! Your kids just became much better hitters!
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.