Softball Players: Don’t Hit Like a Girl! Hit Like an Athlete!

Written By: JK Whited

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.

jessica mendoza roatation

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.

jessica mendoza hands2

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.

Screen Shot 2013-10-18 at 6.15.25 PM

Now let's look at her hands position through this game swing.

bustos swing comp

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?

  • Weight moves to the front side. Check.
  • Pelvis and shoulder separation. Check.
  • Explosive hip and core rotation. Check.
  • Barrel shaping around back shoulder into an upward barrel path. Check.
  • Hands staying with the back shoulder all the way to contact. Check.
  • Back foot off the ground. Check.

All high level explosive movements, all highly successful softball players.

Final Thought 

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

Follow us on Twitter @BR_Rebel

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Owen
Guest

Amen and amen! I know that when I was coaching softball I taught girls how to swing as athletically as possible (although I’m quite sure I didn’t do as good a job of it as you guys).

Steve
Guest
Steve

Thanks very much for the softball chalk-talk. This is going to help me tremendously in teaching my female hitters. I do believe, however, that the lefty slap is a great tool in softball, especially for the quicker kids.

Warren Mills
Guest
Warren Mills

Totally agree with the hitting. So glad to see others who won’t limit girls. However, the slapping comment is a little off. The purpose of teaching the slap, in my opinion, should always be to give an athletically fast girl that extra tool in the bag. Think of it this way. Why does the infield in baseball sometimes move in with a runner on third. It’s because it gives them a chance to make a play at home if they can get the ground ball. But why not play that way all the time. Because it cuts down on the… Read more »

Chas Pippitt
Editor

Warren, You know as well as I do that there are only a few girls who are truly ‘FAST’. Like, hit leadoff for a top 15 team fast. If any girl is taught to slap that ISN’T that type of a sprinter, then she’s being limited. Our contention is that ‘effectiveness’ of slapping at the youth level is like bunting every time in 10u baseball or teaching Tee-Ballers to hit grounders to take advantage of kids who can’t catch and throw yet. Girls athletic differences are much greater than boys, and a dominant girl can change a game at the… Read more »

Phillip Carper
Member
Phillip Carper

Chas,

Great article – After a few more months of lessons we can prove to all the doubters that girls can hit like athletes!!!!! I’m all in with the rebellion!

Maggie Carper

Chas Pippitt
Editor

Maggie,

Very cool comment. You’re doing great! I’m about to check out your most recent video.

Never let someone hold you down because they don’t ‘think’ you can do something. We at BR know you can.

Chas–

Audrey
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Audrey

I interpret what she’s saying differently. I agree with what she is saying bc i’ve coached girls that do what she’s saying you want to avoid. And these hitters I’ve had did not find success when they rotated around so hard or fast with their hands that far behind….they miss the ball or get a weak grounder to left side. to me she’s not saying DON’T rotate. she’s saying don’t do this harsh rotate around like you would on an inside/down the middle pitch when your trying to swing and an outside pitch. “Back leg stay with the hands and… Read more »

Chas Pippitt
Editor

Audrey,

I combined your posts, but did not edit any of the words, hope that’s ok!

Simply put, you have never coached or coached against girls who do what we teach the way we teach it. When you do, you’ll know.

Also, we’re simply pointing out the un-athletic and inaccurate way that girls are taught over and over. I have numerous clients who have left team USA softball players to find better instruction. I wish coaches who teach ‘hand dominated’ swings luck, as they’re going to need it long term to win.

Chas–

catfish
Guest
catfish

Maggie I have a 14 year old daughter who has had this terrable hands first stuff taught to her for a long time, and has been very limited for the amount of core strength she has!!!!!!! Having said that she with BAD mechanics could out hit most of the 14u boys all stars! Also I had 4 of the boys off of the allstar team in the cage with her not a chance of hitting her pitching! The best and biggest kid laughed at the first 3 because they couldn’t hit her, then he got in the cage and told… Read more »

Frank Dodson
Member
Frank Dodson

A few points. First I agree wholeheartedly and suffer the same frustration as you describe. Point 1) The main reason this stuff is taught is because the main governing body of softball (ASA) sanctions these methods being taught by Team USA and Mike Candrea. So when one tries to argue against these methods you also hear the inevitable ” well they are Olympic coaches/players and NCAA championship coaches/players…what are you?”. So right away there is a perceived credibility gap and again their methods are the “official methods” of the ASA. Point 2) Team USA players as well as other Olympic… Read more »

Tracey
Guest

I think you are extremely misinformed as to the point of slap-hitting. It is an offensive strategy, not an insult. I agree with you that hitting mechanics are hitting mechanics and should not differ in the way they are taught to males and females. However, the slap hitters today at higher levels of play can also put the ball over the fence. You should really make a better attempt to understand the game of fastpitch softball prior to making such remarks. All eight Division 1 WCWS teams included slap hitters in their line-ups. I dare say, their knowledge of the… Read more »

Matt
Guest

I think the overall theme translates to many sports. As a “big guy”, I was stuck pitching and playing first base. I did well, but my athletic ability was stunted a bit because I didn’t get to experience other areas. That’s all he’s saying here. If you force a slap strategy on a “fast” youngster, instead of teaching her how to hit (properly) first, you’re skipping out on a huge opportunity. The best thing about power sports: almost anyone can hit for power! So why not teach everyone to hit the ball harder? Smaller athletes can’t get away with the… Read more »

Ruth
Guest
Ruth

This is so refreshing. It seems that power hitters have a disadvantage right now in softball recruiting, and it’s a shame. In fact, I know some travel ball organizations that are notoriously biased against bigger, more powerful athletes. Something is wrong with the game when teams have half of their lineups slapping.