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Re: Re: Re: softball for RQL

Posted by: tom.guerry (tom.guerry@kp.org) on Sat Oct 6 17:12:27 2001

A few women's fastpitch thoughts.(I have started a thread here
> > because the September threads do not show in October,and the
> > October replies to September topics show only at the end of
> > September posts.)
> > >
> > > As Mark mentions,there are some long threads at the fastpitch
> > forum,but they can be hard to find/search.The most recent has to
> > do with the pitching distance-should international and 18u
> > Gold(different governing bodies) go to 43 ft which is the NCAA
> > pitching distance ?
> > >
> > > As your friend Wade Boggs has experienced,even he can only
> > wave at the ball going 70mph from a pitcher leaping off the 40 ft
> > pitching slab and releasing the ball around 35 ft away.In my
> > opinion,43 ft would be right for the top level women's game.This
> > is not likely to be the situation for most high school kids,and the
> > colleges are already at 43 ft.Both these situations give adequate
> > reaction time for a full swing.The best full swing is the
> > Mankin/Nyman/Epstein/baseball/rotational/lower body/whatever
> > you want to call it swing.
> > >
> > > For fastpitch you want to adjust by using as small as possible
> > a swing radius and a more upright axis of rotation.You need to
> > really work on crowding the plate and accentuating bottom hand
> > torque to keep the middle in ball fair and to be able to reach the
> > outside pitch.This is the best swing,but not well understood or
> > coached,and kids rarely put the time in necessary to maximize
> > their potential(in the fastpitch forum thread it was stated that
> > almost no one had seen a hitter work as much as pitchers
> > do-what's with that?)
> > >
> > > When coaches talk about taking the hands to the ball,they are
> > just doing the best they can to get some kind of
> > contact,preferably a grounder.It would be theoretically ok to
> > consciously teach a linear style for certain kids and
> > situations,but this is more likely to just confuse the muscle
> > memory and weaken the full swing,so mastering multiple
> > mechanical styles is rarely realistic.Unfortunately,most of these
> > linear approaches are just making a compromise for a possible
> > immediate gain that in the long run prevents kids reaching their
> > potential.They are also usually a poorly understood mixture of
> > styles that suboptimizes both.
> > >
> > > An example of a successful rotational swing(slow power hitter
> > type) is Cal's Veronica Nelson.No other hitters on the team can
> > protect her,unfortunately.Last years stats:BA .353,93BB,19
> > HR,150AB,.780 slugging,OBA .601.
> > y
> > > Tom- I have often and more so just recently wanted to
> > specifically ask you what you thought about many of your
> > observations and concerns regarding womens fast pitch
> > softball.I have often asked Mr. Mankin about various aspects of
> > hitting and the handling of coaches that preach a strange
> > combination of linear mechanics with a sprinkling of rotational
> > mechanics that results in a contact hitter .These coaches
> > wonder why the scores are so low.They want their players to use
> > -9 to -11 bats ,swing with their arms , practice 4or 5 months a
> > year and then they expect them to hit it in the gap.These coaches
> > want them to make contact out in front on the outside pitch.My
> > girl 's college coach filmed her and told her she was making
> > contact to close t o her body ,She told her to extend those arms
> > and to quit using tophand torque.This summer my girl hit.444 on
> > the women's class b national champions and her college coach
> > made the changes i referred to above without letting her hit the
> > way Mr. Mankin taught herand which she has been using for two
> > seasons.I thought I would send her Mike Epstein's tape because
> > the torque position doesn't utilize THT and maybe the coach
> > might allow this swing which as you know really emphasizes the
> > lower body mechanics.One of my questions to you is -Could a
> > person use M ike's lower body mechanics and Mr, Mankin's tht
> > and bht.? A question you
> > asked above about the practice time for pitchers vs hitters is a
> > fair one. My observations over the years are that the pitchers
> > work 9 to 10 months a year,many on a daily basis.Hitter's on the
> > other hand spend far less time without the benefit of good
> > instruction which causes frustration and produces contact
> > hitters.This is just my opinion,but I watch div 1 ,2and 3 softball
> > and they pretty much all swing the same way. Your concern
> > about the speed and distance also intrigues me.43 feet is a lot
> > fairer to the hitter than 40.Most pitchers tthat I see throw
> > between 58-64 and the 70 mph pitcher appears tobe the
> > exception ,at least on the east coast.But guess what?Most of the
> > girls still stand in the front of the box because they fear the
> > breaking ball more than the fast ball.A gain ,technique seems to
> > be the problem.Its hard to hit the off speed pitch when your
> > weight is moving forward.Thanks for writing the above post and I
> > look forward to reading yours and others thoughts .
> There is a thread working over on eteamz fastpitch board about linear vs rotational swings.
> Mark H.


A few responses.More than you may want to know.I like Mankin/Epstein plus a bizarre dash of your local PGA professional and lots of Nyman thrown in.

This sounds very confusing,but it makes sense if you have a reasonable model of the overall swing in mind as,for example,Jack demonstrates in the other sections of this site.Beware of coaches who try to cobble together a series of preferred cues without any overall model of how the swing is produced.This will result in mixing power and contact swings and screw up muscle memory.Getting along with coaches is often a dicey problem.Mechanics are like religion.I don't have great advice here.The more you educate you and your daughter,the better you can figure out how to proceed.

I don't see any fundamental conflicts between Jack and Mike Epstein.Mike responded to a question on his board saying he does think there is tht and bht,but he doesn't like to use these terms."Scooping sand with the top hand" or Williams' "getting the bat flat" or Lau's "getting the palms up/down as quickly as possible" are probably cues that accomplish the same thing.Mike's pinball analogy which would be a bht/take the outside ball deeper without tht description is probably an oversimplification from the standpoint of the reality that seems to work best that Jack has observed and called top hand torque.

Lessons from golf(Jack's golf club demonstration from "The Final Arc" shows some of this):

Jack is very detailed on the arm action/handpath.Mike focusses on teaching the body turn by controlling the hand path by resting the bat on the arm while you learn how to rotate the body.The rotational swing is impossible without good connection and a circular handpath at launch.Some take a similar approach in golf to teach body rotatiobn(for golf there is a longer backswing/longer swing,and a different grip promoting wrist snap instead of tht/bht/hand torque,however the basics of body rotation are the same as hitting and much better understood by golf pros).In golf you also can preset your posture,club length and club loft,but the principles of tight connection and body rotation are the same.You may be able to find a golf pro in your area who controls the arm/handpath using a device called the "swing jacket" to concentrate on teaching how to turn the body(www.swingjacket.com).The backswing is lead with upper body turn taking care to keep the head back and the weight on the inside of the back foot to prevent swaying.The downswing is lead by the front hip which has to rotate so that the bottom of your front pants pocket ends up over the back of the front shoe.The basic tempo of the swing lies in the turning of the body.I find these additional ideas from golf work well together with Epsteins description of how to rotate the body.

In hitting you don't have to worry about how a clubface at the end of the bat is rotating as you do in golf,but the other demands of hitting make it perhaps the most difficult skill in sports.You have to have a short rapidly accelerating swing with near perfect timing and you have to adjust body posture timing and swing radius perfectly together to match the plane of the swing and get the sweetspot on the ball.One other tip from golf can really helpto learn the right postural set up for hitting.Good body rotation around the spine and maintaining the spine angle as the torso rotates are common to both sports.To set this up requires bending at the hips,not the waist.This can be learned/taught by standing straight,pinching the shoulder blades together to bring the shoulders back and then bending over.You will have to bend the right way at the hips with the shoulders back like you're in the military instead bending incorrectly at the waist the wat so many do.Once you have the right bend,you can relax the shoulders.

With this in mind,check that the stance/setup shows the right kind of bend.Make sure the weight doesn't get outside the back foot in the prelaunch portion of the swing.Make sure the head stays back.Make sure the hips rotate around a stationary axis with the front hip continuing to rotate around as the front leg straightens.


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