It was an honor and a pleasure to have been a part of a hitting clinic with Bruce and the Rock River Stix program. Bruce and his staff were very welcoming and they are focused on building a great program. What I noticed working with them for a day was two things: the love of the game and the care for development. Their coaches care about learning and understanding how to teach; their athletes care about fundamental development; and their program is realistic on educating both players and parents on higher education and softball. Thank you for your dedication!– Lynn Anderson – Assistant Softball Coach, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
I would like to thank Coach Anderson (Lynn Anderson) for putting on a fantastic hitting clinic for our program and helping us get better. The hitting clinic was held on Jan 4, 2014 at the Fort Atkinson High School. It was an open clinic to the public and we had a good turnout.
As a former player(Wisconsin Badgers) Coach Anderson has the experience of playing at the highest level and also coaching at various levels, she gave our kids such a tremendous insight and resource on playing the game and understanding how things will work at the college level. She is someone we can certainly lean on as our kids go through the process of playing, developing and possibly making the transition to the next level.
I thought the kids really took to her approach and got something good out of it on Saturday. I could see some things begin to click with the kids and I literally saw the light bulb go on for some of them. You could definitely see swings improve and kids putting some of the concepts in play. Building your swing is something that cannot be done overnight. It is a concentrated skill and it takes many hours of practice and 1,000s of repetitions to build and develop a consistent swing. My general rule for hitting is this (assuming everyone starts with some very basic skill sets of the swing): if you want to hit .200 at the high school level begin building your swing about a month before high school practice starts. If you want to hit .300 at the high school level you will probably want to begin swinging the bat on a regular basis around the 1st of December. If you want to hit .400 you better start swinging the bat around October 1st. If you want to hit .450 or above, you better be really talented or you better be make hitting part of you weekly regiment the entire year.
Those general rules assume that you are swinging the bat at least 500 times per week. You must have a regiment of hitting off tees, working on side and front toss, mirror swings, hitting off the machine and some live hitting. You cannot get what you need by working one day a week off the machine and taking about 50 – 100 swings and expect to get where you want to be. You have to be committed to hitting. There is no one secret recipe to success except for hard work and dedication to the craft. That recipe will include many hours of tee work, drills and breaking down the phases of the swing like we did for the first hour on Saturday. If you are not committed to doing those things, then you are not going to build the muscle memory and techniques needed to hit at a high level during you high school softball season. I have seen a lot of kids that come into a high school season and can hit very well against subpar pitching. They hit the ball hard and can usually achieve some great success against some of the lower level teams and pitchers at the high school level. They pile of great stats and do some great things until they face the top pitchers in their conference or start to face some of the better pitchers as they go deeper in the tournament. Once they start seeing higher level pitchers and defenses, the hit go away and they quietly bow out of the conference race or tournament.
Hitting is a failure skill. Meaning you will fail more times than you will succeed. Some of the best hitters out there still fail more than they succeed, very few hitters are good enough to crack the line where their success at the plate outweighs their failures and most of those kids are playing at an elite level. Because hitting is a failure skill it takes hours of time and hard work to get to the point where you can consistently put the bat through the zone and achieve success. Really, hitting comes down to this, you hope to put the bat through the zone in a consistent manor and aggressive enough to strike the ball hard enough to give you a chance to get it through the defense. What does put the bat through the zone consistently mean? It means that every time you swing the path of your bat must take the same journey to the ball. The location or trajectory of that swing may change depending on the pitch you see, but the path better be the same or as close to the same as can possibly be to give you a chance. Add to that the variation of timing, pitch speed, positioning of the defense, quality of the defense and you can see that an almost impossible task becomes even more challenging.
The only way you can achieve any type of consistent success against the challenge of so many variations is by creating consistency in the things you control (your swing). Hitters that take it upon themselves to build consistency in their swing are the players achieving the most success. If a young hitter commits to hours of tee work building and developing the swing against all the pitches they will see during the year they will have the ability to find the ball and hit it hard more frequently than other players. The great hitters spend hours working off tees on high pitches, low pitches, inside, outside and fat pitches. They constantly work on timing, they spend hours trying to develop the ability to recognize the change up, curve or rise ball. They work on swing path to hit the various pitches. They learn how to gain command of the strike zone and recognize what is a ball and what is a strike. They learn pitching tendencies and try to learn something from every swing. They constantly analyze swing by reading how the ball came off the bat. They understand their swing, they understand how pitchers are pitching them and they are constantly adjusting their swing to find that little edge that allows them to succeed.
All of that takes time and years to develop and all that time and effort doesn’t ensure you that you will achieve the kind of success you would like because you also have to have some basic talents to allow you to build success against the most elite pitchers. The talents you need are quick hands, great hand eye coordination, ability to see the ball, discipline, confidence and an ability to accept defeat. Hitting a softball is not an easy thing to do. The best hitter I have ever seen over the years are never satisfied with their success. One of the best hitters I’ve ever coached was a kid that was never satisfied with her success. She would go out and put together a 4 for 4 day and hit the heck out of the ball and come back and say that the pitching wasn’t the best or I missed a couple of opportunities that I should have been able to take advantage of. She constantly scrutinized her swing and never became enamored or satisfied with the day she put forth. She was constantly chasing the perfect swing or perfect day and my guess is in her eyes she will never find that perfect swing or perfect day. That drove her every day and she constantly worked to find those things.
If you are committed to becoming the best hitter you can be this season, try to find what drives you and stay true to the craft of hitting. We have given you all the tools you need to become the best hitter you can be. It’s up to you to utilize those tools and make hitting a priority of yours. Remember that it is a concentrated skill and the more time you put into it, the more successful you will be…