This is probably the most frustrating thing in softball and every player will experience them in their career. Hitting slumps in softball are just part of the game like Gatorade or sunflower seeds. You can’t avoid them. Isn’t it one of the reasons what we call softball a sport of failure and that we all agree that it is such a mental sport?
However, while all ball players struggle periodically at the plate, the better hitters are able to minimize the length of their slumps. They do so by being more aware of what’s causing their slumps and what to do about it.
Hitting slumps are caused by a variety of factors and each hitter is different in what’s causing her slump, so it would stand to reason that each may be different in the method she employs to get back on the road of success. However, there are several hitting tips that the best softball hitters use to help them get out of their slumps. Here are a few softball hitting tips fight slumps.
1. Take extra batting practice. Taking extra batting practice makes sense, and it’s usually the first step taken by hitters in a slump. There is no substitute for hard work. The hitter should identify the fundamental flaw or error in approach, make the proper adjustment, and retrain her body to swing the bat the right way. She needs to get that feeling right again. Extra batting practice helps iron out the swing, and with that, it rebuilds confidence. When hitters put the time in away from competition, they develop a psychological edge that they carry into the game.
There is one extremely important point to understand. Before hopping in the batting cage, hitters must be absolutely sure that they’ve identified their problem and have a plan for making adjustments during batting practice. In other words, you don’t want to get good at doing something the wrong way. You don’t want to dig a bigger hole. You have to rehearse proper mechanics whenever you practice hitting.
2. Get back to the basics. In the midst of a slump, hitting can seem very complicated. In that case, it may help to simplify everything. A hitter should go back to what build his swing. Tee work and soft-toss drills allow a player to feel and focus on the fundamentals of the swing. A hitter should walk through basic drills and gradually build towards live batting practice. She may discover that her swing just needed a tune-up.
3. Visualize. When a hitter struggles, it’s easy to fall in the habit of expecting the worst. This is never a productive mindset for competitive softball players. Positive thoughts breed positive results especially in a sport like softball. A hitter should think back to when she was swinging the bat well. Recall hard-hit balls to the outfield gap, line drives up the middle, and stroked balls to the opposite field.
Before at bats, instruct the hitter to imagine the pitch she wants and to see herself crushing it. When she sees something positive happening in her own mind, it helps her believe she’s capable of actually doing it.
4. Have honest conversation. Many slumps are born of a poor approach at the plate. For example, a hitter may approach each at bat trying to hit every pitch over the outfielder’s head. This commonly results in dropping the rear shoulder and swinging under the pitch.
Talk to the hitter and ask her what she’s thinking. Is she attempting to hit every pitch over the fence? Is she trying to pull every pitch? Is she simply looking to put the ball in play? Is she afraid to make an out? By asking the hitter to share her thoughts, you may expose the root of the problem.
5. Review videotape. We always say, “Seeing it is believing it.” Many young hitters don’t want to listen to instruction. Kids can be stubborn, but it’s also possible they simply don’t believe or don’t get it what they’re being told. Well, it’s one thing to hear it, but it’s another thing if they can actually see it. The video camera can serve as an extremely useful tool. It not only provides visual proof but accurately illustrates what may be difficult to place into words.
6. Change. Some players respond positively to change. A change in the stance, pre-swing, mental approach, or even equipment can jump-start a hitting streak. It should not be a major change in mid-season, but a subtle adjustment can have a positive impact. There is more than one way to hit a baseball, so maybe the hitter just needs to shake things up to get himself going. If he believes a minor change makes him a better hitter, by all means, let him do it.