Hitting, as you have already read, is in my opinion both an art and a science. There is no doubt that there are some scientific aspects of hitting that carry a lot of weight in helping a player fulfill their potential. One of the never-ending discussions is about the science of launch angle, exit velocity and swing plane. While these scientific sounding terms seems to start all kinds of arguments, I want to clear the air.
Really good hitters have the ability to match the angle that they swing at with the angle that the ball is traveling along. For the sake of understanding what this concept looks like, if you roll a ball on the floor it is at a zero degree angle and to stay on plane with that rolling ball the bat would need to match that same plane.
A pitched ball is always moving at some angle as it approaches home plate. The experts say the average angle of a pitch in fastpitch softball is between minus 3 and minus 12 degrees. Meaning the ball is dropping as it go through the hitting zone. So the best hitters are able to match that angle when they swing.
What about the rise ball, you ask? Statistically speaking there is very little proof that most rise balls really rise. They give the illusion of rising because they don’t drop as much as other pitches and they are often thrown higher in the zone which adds to the illusion but when you look at the stats they are really the pitch that goes through the zone in that minus-3-degree range.
All hitters are different and all have different strengths. We have to agree that increased exit velocity will always lead to more hitting success. The faster the ball goes after you strike it the greater opportunity for something good to happen. When we can match improved exit velocity with getting the bat on the same plane as the ball, more often we are unlocking the key to great hitting.
When we have greater exit velocity and stay on plane for a long time we greatly increase our margin for error. When this happens even our “miss hits” have a chance to be successful. And our good hits have the chance to be great.
Get on plane, stay on plane and have a lot more fun. It’s that plane and simple!!