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Re: Bonds/fastpitch softball

Posted by: SBK () on Mon Mar 8 13:41:17 2004

Last week the softball forums were filled with comments about the charity softball game between American and National league players. As part of it they had an exhibition of Jenny Finch (Olympic pitcher) vs. six of the major leaguers. She struck out all six. She got them mostly on rise balls that wouldn't have been called strikes. Here is one of the comments: "Check out Barry Bonds' swing -- at the beginning of the swing the bat head is already on the hitting plane (it's pointing into the catcher's glove) -- with the head of the bat dropped to that point, there is NO way he or any other baseball player can recover the head to hit a either a true honest-to-God riseball or even the more common running riser (fastball that elevates like a jet taking off during its 40- or 43-foot course to home plate) with girls/women." I don't necessarily agree with that but do have concerns.
> I am in the process of converting my daughter to rotational mechanics and want to know your ideas about the rise balls that she is going to see (u18) and applying rotational mechanics.
> I contend that 90% of rise balls are not strikes and learn to lay off them but that is easier said then done when they are throwing 4 or 5 different pitches at her.
> Comments please.

Hi Bmill,

Don't hesitate to teach your daughter rotational mechanics to hit fastpitch softball.

As I commented a couple weeks ago on my initial post to this board, there are some small but important adjustments helpful when hitting fastpitch when using rotational methods from hitting a baseball. Most of these small adjustments that I recommend for fastpitch are necesary due to the different plane of the incoming pitch and the reduced reaction time available to hit top-level fastpitch.

One result when hitting a riseball is that you'll usually end up being more upright upon contact.

Another adjustment when hitting a riseball is that the top hand is often more used than when hitting a baseball. In baseball, too much top hand can result in rolling the wrists and getting on top of the ball. On a riseball, you want to try to get on top of the ball. (When is the last time you saw someone swing above a top-level rise ball?)

As far as the best professional baseball hitters hitting a fastpitch softball off of male or female world class pitching... Although it's been tried in exhibitions many times, I don't think any pro baseball player has ever had any success. Doesn't matter if it's Ty Stoflett against Reggie Jackson years ago or the most recent exhibition you reference.

In order for them to have reasonable success, they would need to face this type of pitching for an extended period of time and make some small but important making some adjustments in their swing. If they would do this, most of them would be exceptional fastpitch hitters. One thing they would not need to do would be to change the foundation of their rotational mechanics, However they would need to accomplish their mechanics faster and with more precision.

From my experience, Baseball players that face world-class fastpitch pitching for even a short time and then go back to baseball, could become better baseball hitters. I believe it would benefit them mentally as well as physically. Mentally it could help because they would never face anyone that gives you less time to see the ball. Physically, they would need to clean up their swing and that benefit would serve them well in hitting a baseball as well.

Also, as I said in my initial post a couple weeks ago, be careful whom you listen to. 90 % of the stuff I've noticed being taught to fastpitch softball players is counter-productive to anything I've experienced or witnessed. My experience in softball is drawn from playing on the best men's teams in the world with the best players in the world for a couple of decades. (Side Note: I recognized a post a while ago from Dave from British Columbia. I competed for years against Dave when he represented Canada in International competitions. While his "style" at the plate when he initially set up was among the most unique, I'll vouch for his ability to hit top-level fastpitch. Dave P. can flat hit and is a hell of a competitor!)

Until I recently spent a little time on the net, I never realized that people were so polarized and personally attached to hitting methods. Nowadays I spend my free time coaching my own son's how to hit a baseball. In addition I volunteer my experience coaching their travel team and also do some workshops for the high school. From my observations watching players around here hitting a baseball, I'd like to return as a pitcher. The vast, vast majority of these players do not have the fundamentals to continue their careers beyond high school and hit even mediocre college pitching. The biggest problem I see is that they are out on their front foot and can't get their hands through. When they hit the ball they don't drive it. It's painful to watch!

My experience watching women's fastpitch over the years has been mainly limited to catching a few games of the National teams at venues where we were also competing like the Pan Am games or Olympic Sports Festivals. It was my observation that at the highest women's level, outside of the slap hitters, the best of the best were employing rotational mechanics.

The last couple years I was able to watch a few of our local girl's high school games. My observations here are similar to my observations of low-level baseball. It's painful to watch. I witnessed hitters diving out in front, hands can't get through, nobody can drive the ball, bat flattened as swing is initiated, players can't get on top of rise ball nor can they stay back and drive a drop ball.

My instruction is based on what I have seen the most successful hitters in the game do and obviously my experience applying it to my game. You can also learn a lot from watching what the average hitters do and what makes them ordinary. I know during my career I certainly evolved as a hitter. Like someone once said, "I wish I knew then what I know now". Having said that, I am new to this forum and barely know the difference between a THT and a BLT. Through my career when I got together with the "Ted Williams' of fastpitch and talked hitting, we didn't use these specific terms, but much of what I recognize that Jack teaches are the same techniques that we have been using for years to hit a fastpitch softball.

So in a round about way, I will conclude by saying you are on the right track by using rotational mechanics for hitting fastpitch. I can only surmise that whoever is teaching all these hitters to fall on their face and get their elbows in the way as they swing, must be frustrated pitchers who are still hell bent on getting hitters out.

Best of Luck,



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