By Jim Moyer
If your batting practice consists of either having your pitcher or a coach pitch to the hitters I am going to change your life forever. Yes, there is a place for this type of practice session but it is RARE. There is no doubt that the more live pitching your hitters see the better they will be able to adjust to different pitchers in a game. HOWEVER, your players need repetition, muscle memory, and enough swings that the coach can determine the flaws in their swing and take corrective action.
The drawbacks of having your pitcher throw batting practice are numerous. Your pitcher probably only throws 50% to 60% of his/her pitches for strikes. That’s a LOT of dead time watching the pitcher throw and the catcher retrieving wild pitches. In a two hour practice each player might get to take ten swings. Hardly enough to build fundamentals or develop muscle memory. You are also faced with having a player get hit by a pitch and thereby become afraid of the ball — WHO NEEDS THAT?!?! And then there is the little problem of all of your other players becoming completely bored while they just stand around waiting and watching. And how about the psychological affect on your pitcher if the batters are hitting the ball…great, now your pitcher feels like a failure.
Okay, then how about if we have a coach pitch? It’s better than having your pitcher pitch but not much. Typically, coaches pitch much slower than what the players face in a game. The coach is relatively distracted from coaching the hitter because he is focused on trying to lob the ball over the plate. How can you watch the batter's feet, hip movement, and arm movement if you are concentrating on making a good pitch? And don’t be fooled into thinking the coach is throwing lots of strikes. Honestly, he’s probably not as consistent as the pitcher.
Enter the Louisville Slugger Pitching Machine. This tool has revolutionized batting practice for the average team. Don’t panic about the cost as it’s only about $150. If you don’t have the money tell the parents you are taking up a collection and everyone needs to chip in $15.00. It is absolutely the PERFECT batting practice tool. It is spring-loaded so you won’t need electricity. It’s very lightweight so it’s easy to carry to the field and it sets up in about 2 minutes. It throws all sizes of balls and you can control the speed from about 20 mph up to about 45 mph. If there is any way possible, you MUST get your hands on this pitching machine.
How is a spring loaded pitching machine going to help my team? You will easily triple the number of swings your hitters get to take. You can have any parent operate the machine which will free you up to stand near the hitter and observe and coach. No more wild pitches and wasting time while the catcher retrieves the ball. They are all strikes. This means your hitters will be hitting and your fielders will stay engaged and have more practice fielding. In case you just glanced over this, let me reiterate these two points: THE COACH CAN CONCENTRATE ON INSTRUCTING THE HITTER and THE HITTER GETS 3X AS MANY SWINGS.
"It’s easy to hit pitches that are grooved right down the middle." I hear that a lot and let me say that argument doesn’t hold water with the Louisville Slugger Pitching Machine and here is why: Ball Positioning. When you load the ball onto the throwing lever you can make the pitch break inside, outside, drop or rise. Yep, it’s true. Just load the ball with the seams rotated to the left or right for a breaking ball and rotate the seams forward or back for a high or low pitch.
For advanced batting practice you might be working on hitting all outside pitches, or all inside pitches. Try that with your girl pitcher or coach pitcher and see how much luck you have! More than likely you will just end up frustrated at whoever is pitching and will not have achieved any of the practice you were hoping for. But with the right pitching achine, you can throw consistently to any part of the plate.
Still not convinced? I use the Louisville Slugger Pitching Machine to divide up my team and play scrimmages. We can usually play an inning in 8-10 minutes. It’s a great way to end a practice. With about 30 minutes left in practice just divide up and play three or four quick innings. The girls love it.
Still need more? I’ve even adjusted the settings on the Louisville Slugger pitching machine to throw fly balls. By the way, this is a great practice drill that can be run by any parent. Set the machine up around home plate, adjust the settings accordingly, throw a couple and go mark where the ball lands. Then from the spot where the ball lands, place a cone about 15’ in front, behind, to the left and to the right. The player stands at the cone and when you shoot the ball she runs to catch it, then she moves to another cone, etc. This is excellent practice for moving to the ball.
I LOVE this little pitching machine. It will increase your team’s batting average tremendously. I have used the Louisville Slugger Pitching Machine with girls age 7 all the way to age 14. It’s going to turn your batters into HITTERS and it’s going to turn your boring batting practice into a time of real achievement and fun.
Oh, did I mention this little rule? In Fastpitch Softball, whoever scores the most runs is the winner. Increase your softball team’s hitting skills and you will most definitely WIN MORE GAMES.
Jim Moyer is the author of http://www.mysoftballcoach.com
Having coached over 500 youth fastpitch softball games, Jim decided to put the information online to allow parent/coaches to draw on his unique experience.
Visit http://www.mysoftballcoach.com/softball-equipment.html for reviews on more pitching machines and other essential coaching tools, and learn many skills, drills and game strategies to make your team a Winning team.
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Recommended Websites for Softball Coaches
The Softball 2Day Coaching Journal
The Fastpitch Softball Directory
BatAction Hitting Machines
Derek Jeter Hurricane Machines
Joe Mauer Quick Swing Trainer
Advanced Skills Tee
Hands Back Hitter Swing Trainer
Stay Back Tee Baseball Swing Trainer