So did I get your attention? I know, Target is a store, but we aren’t talking about the huge retail chains that many people can not live without. We’re also talking about the ability of a hitter to hit her target. Or even more to the point, to understand that if you want to hit a target you really have to aim for one!
When a player is young and just learning how to hit, they just hope to hit the ball. And when they do make contact they feel an exhilarating feeling that gets them hooked on the idea of wanting to make contact again. You can see the unbridled joy on their faces when they accomplish the earliest goals of actually hitting the ball.
Unfortunately that “thrill of victory” is short-lived and very quickly players, and their parents, want more than contact. They want line drives and hard hit balls. They want to see the ball get hit hard and they want to see base hits! Which makes a great deal of sense but leads us to the point of this blog.
Players need to learn that they have to hit a specific part of the ball if they want to hit line drives and hard hit balls. And to hit that specific part of the ball they need to aim for that specific area of the ball.
We’ve talked about the marksman’s idea of “aim small, miss small” which in real terms means to aim for a very small and specific target, then if you miss by a little bit you are still likely to hit the majority of the ball and get a hard hit as the result.
I use the analogy of a bullseye on a dart board. Most players have seen a dart board and they can understand that the bullseye is dead center of the larger target. They can understand that by aiming for the bullseye they have much greater chance of hitting somewhere near the bullseye and are likely to have a greater level of success.
So now to connect the dots. They can now picture the bullseye on the softball, first on the tee, and then in flight, which allows them to visualize what the center of the ball really is. Now that they know where the center of the ball really is they can adjust their targeting to try to hit a specific target.
Now depending on what your goals are, the specific target may vary. For me and the hitters I work with, our goal is hard hit line drives. That translates into aiming for the bottom edge of the bullseye, the outer ring of the bullseye is perfect. Now if you want hard hit ground balls, you will aim higher. If you want the towering fly balls you will aim lower. That is up to each hitter and coach to determine.
Work on hitting the specific part of the ball that allows you to have the outcome you want.
Now get busy!