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In the last few weeks, I have done more googling (did I just make that up?), youtubeing, and researching than I have in the last year. Why? I have been trying to find ONE person in the softball teaching/coaching profession that speaks about hitting as if it were a sport. A sport that required speed, strength, and coordination. Just one person that spoke hitting in terms of being ATHLETIC! I think this video sums up basically all the videos that I have found.
For many of you that follow the Baseball Rebellion, this video is of no surprise. Our baseball players are subjected to this type of instruction on a daily basis from their youth, high school, college, and private instructors. The more I looked into it, the softball "way" of teaching hitting is no better, maybe even worse. Girls all over the world are being taught to be unathletic and static in their swings. Why? Well for many of the same reasons that our baseball guys are being taught the same things. There is also an underlying FALSE BELIEF that girls can not move the same way boys can. Girl softball players of all ages are often taught in gender specific ways and literally told that they are unable to produce explosive movements. I will let Chas jump in and tell you a quick story about what one of his online clients ran into with one of her former coaches.
A few of my online clients used to go to a former Team USA Softball Player for lessons. This excellent player is limiting her own students by saying that softball girls, "Can't hit that way" when she sees our hitting theory. She said that "Girls can't turn like that. They don't have the strength." (Another funny insight is this coach has a Drive Developer and uses it in lessons but in her 'own way' because she doesn't think girls can move like we teach...) Now, I have a huge problem with that statement for so many reasons. Our own female athletic role models are LIMITING our youth softball players. How is that happening??? Girls may not be as strong as boys in most cases, but every single girl in our program has hit the ball harder almost instantly. Girls Can Turn This Way. Girls Can Hit Like Athletes. Do Not Let Your Daughter Be Limited By Backward Thinking Coaches, No Matter Their Playing Credentials. Chas--
Former Team USA members Jessica Mendoza and Crystall Bustos are great examples of women with tremendous athletic ability that teach what they feel rather that what is real.
Here is Jessica Mendoza talking about hitting the outside pitch.
What's the magic word in this video? Hands, hands, and more hands. Mendoza is a tremendous athlete yet she speaks nothing about moving athletically to hit an outside pitch. She even goes as far to say, NOT to rotate and keep the hands inside the ball. Let's quickly break down these pictures.
In the picture to the left, Mendoza demonstrates what she doesn't want the hitter to do. However, during her live swing, you can clearly see her hips are fully open with explosive rotation. She is a great athlete and swings the bat athletically. Can she explain this? Again she can not help but to move this way.
In the picture on the left, Mendoza talks about how she wants to keep her hands inside the ball, thus the barrel stays elevated. Also notice how little rotation she demonstrates at the same time. I will say that her comment on depth of the pitch and contact location is good, however, she takes every bit of explosiveness out of her swing in TEACHING it. You can clearly see in the other picture that Mendoza keeps her hands connected to her shoulder, gets full rotation, DROPS HER BACK SHOULDER, and the barrel comes from behind the pitch. Not to mention she is also swinging up! Click here to find out more information on avoiding the downward swing path. To me, she could be even more athletic and explosive especially in her forward movement. Jessica Mendoza is at the top of the softball game and has made it as far as she can in her sport. Why would she change? The problem is that she teaches what she feels, rather than how she really moves her body.
Here is an image of Crystl Bustos demonstrating pulling the knob and then using ONLY her wrists to make the barrel turn to the ball.
Now let's look at her hands position through this game swing.
At what point in her actual game swing does she pull the knob that far with zero barrel movement? The answer is easy. She doesn't. This swing is an explosive movement. You can see tremendous rotation as the pictures progress through the swing with great upper half mechanics. In the 4th frame you can even see the barrel blurring behind and around her back shoulder(pointed out with the arrow). In her demonstration, Bustos brings the knob to the ball which causes the barrel of her bat to slide past her shoulder. Learn more about deep barrel acceleration here. The swing continues to rotate with a nice UPWARD path of the barrel. Factor in her overall body type with her consistent pattern and it's no wonder she has been a softball power house for a long time. It is clear that Mendoza and Bustos have overcome whatever instruction they have been given in the past. They are high level Rotational Athletes and they move as such. Unfortunately for most young girls out there, they are being held back because of their size, gender, and their own mis-informed coaches. Many girls will never overcome the moves they are taught because they are not athletic enough to overcome their instruction.
Here are a few other examples of explosive softball hitters.
Brittany Schutte - University of Florida
Whitney Larson - University of Alabama
Can you see any similar patterns in the videos above?
All high level explosive movements, all highly successful softball players.
By no means is this article intended to bash Jessica Mendoza or Crystl Bustos. Both women are great athletes that reached the top of their sport. We want to shed light on the fact that these women, like their MLB counter parts, play at a high level because their movement patterns are explosive and consistent. We will never teach our softball hitters to slap hit because we know for a fact that young girls can hit the ball hard no matter their age and or body type. Power is power. Every ball that we make contact with can be close to or at our potential as an athlete. That does not mean home runs. It simply means that if the ball is on the ground, in the air, or anything in between it needs to be hit hard. Instead of teaching the smaller, faster girls to run and slap, why not get them to have gap to gap power. Wouldn't you rather have your lead off hitter on second instead of first? As for the bigger girls, they have to hit the ball harder and further to have a chance at playing at higher levels. Let's stop holding them back. Let's make this insult a thing of the past.
JK Whited - Leader of the Baseball Rebellion