Is there any statement we hear at the ball park, at any skill level, more than this old gem? I understand why it is so well ingrained in our minds. We hear this from “experts” all the time. Swinging level will apparently solve every hitting woe that a player might experience.
So why are we talking about something that is universally accepted as good hitting practice?
Like many of the other general statements we hear at the ballpark, this one just doesn’t make sense!
What do people mean when they tell a player to swing level? What the people who say it means, and what almost every player who hears it thinks they mean — are often two different things, To the player it means very clearly, parallel to the ground. A level swing by definition has to be a flat swing that stays on the same plane, again parallel to the ground.
So let’s talk about that! If a player is only going to swing level, how many different levels of pitches can they hit?
Right, ONE!! No offense but how dumb is that?
So if LEVEL is wrong then what are we really after?
We want our hitters to take the bat head directly to the contact point. The bat will travel in a straight line to that contact point, but its height and angle will change on every pitch based on the pitches height and location. We want the barrel to go directly to the the ball but it will only be level on a specific pitch at a specific height. Please note the photo above of one of our game’s greatest hitters ever. Anything level about the bomb she just hit?
Why is this old classic such a problem? Ask any young player what level means and they will demonstrate a swing that is parallel to the ground. Once we progress past coach pitch, where the coach will try to offer up a pitch that each player can hit, we have real problems. A player who practices a level swing all the time will be very limited in their ability to hit all the pitches that are likely to be called a strike during a game.
Let’s get rid of the idea of level and replace it with something that makes sense! Please!!
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.