Power is often the most sought-after skill for baseball and softball hitters. So how do I get it? Similar to many things in life, you don’t always get what you wish for, you get what you work for.
At The Hitting Vault, we break down the softball and baseball swing exactly the same. A good swing is a good swing.
At the end of the day, our philosophy is that if you can put the ball in play at the right launch angle with a high exit velocity, then you are going to not only climb in the order but also elevate your game.
Hitting for power comes primarily from the waist down, you do not have to be mammoth sized like Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees, or squat 500 lbs to hit for power. Check out these six hitting drills for softball players to increase their power and start doing damage at the plate.
Interlocking Throws Drill
When trying to hit for power one of the most important aspects is having a solid bat path. If the swing gets long, you are not going to be able to keep up with fastballs. If the swing gets too short, you are going to pull off and roll over to your pull side. How can we fix this? A simple drill that we use is the interlocking throws drill. The purpose of this drill is to build muscle memory of a good path to the ball and through the zone. Looking at the picture here, she is already loaded with her hands in a good launch position. From here, you are going to want to go through your swing, and release the ball at an upward launch angle. The ball should come out of your hand around where the point of contact would be.
Here is where the ball should begin coming out of your hand. This is a great drill for softball hitters that will help you with two critical components of hitting for more power:
- Good bat path to the point of contact.
- Good use of the top hand driving through the ball.
- Good extension and finishing of the swing through the zone. Good extension and finishing the swing is key to driving the ball with power, as it prevents you from rolling over.
Half Turns Drill
At the hitting vault, we use two basic drills focused specifically on unlocking the lower half and hitting with more power. The half turns drill is essential to begin learning and mastering the movements to the point of contact with the lower half. It is incredibly important to be in a good, strong position with your hips and legs to drive the ball. To do this drill, you are going to want the hitter to pin the barrel of the bat against the back leg, and the handle/knob of the bat against the back shoulder, demonstrated in the picture. Working from this position is going to keep the front shoulder closed, preventing flying open and rolling over.
The finish position of the half turn drill should emulate where the body should be at the contact point. The back foot has moved up (showing drive off the back leg), the front leg is acting like a post for which you want to drive your weight into, and the hips are square to the pitcher.
Full Turns Drill
Hip rotation is key in developing power for softball hitters. Building off the movements developed in the Half Turn drill, we want to, in a sense, finish the drill, using the Full Turn drill. This drill will complete the lower half of the swing while bringing in the upper body rotation.
The hitter will start in their natural stance and hold the bat up against their body, shown above. Beginning the drill in this position will force the body to stay parallel to the pitcher, while placing emphasis on the hitter’s hips and torso explosiveness. See the image below of Hitting Vault coach Alexa Peterson, notice the rotation of her upper body and the position of the lower half. Her back is completely turned, knob of the bat pointing toward the pitcher and stiff front side. By rotating your hips and torso like you would in a normal swing during this drill, it will start to build muscle memory in full rotation to and through the ball.
Paint Stick Drill
Now that we have worked the simpler aspects of putting together a more compact and powerful swing, it is time to take it to the tee. The Paint Stick drill is one of three drills that we will focus on in order to develop more power. In this drill, you are going to need to get paint sticks, or just some athletic tape will work as well.
It is very important in this drill that the hitter get into their normal stance before putting the sticks down, as you do not want to alter their stance during this drill.
Need help with your stance? Check out this is exclusive SwingBuild video.
The first stick is placed just outside of the front foot of the batter, while the other stick is placed just inside of the back foot. Why? Because we want to work on a controlled and explosive weight transfer from the backside to the front side.
To do this drill, you stride over the outside stick, and while completing the swing, work on getting the back foot over the back stick, really focusing on weight transfer. Note how in the pictures, she has stepped past the stick and to the tee, and in the next frame, began shifting her weight from her back leg to the ball. This drill is excellent for weight transfer and using the lower half to drive the ball.
The Don’t Squish the Bug Drill
A step up from the Paint Stick drill is a debunking of a drill that has been taught to young hitters for decades. The Don’t Squish the Bug Drill, is an advance on the paint stick drill. For this drill use the bucket of balls you’re hitting from and place it behind your back foot.
Setting up the drill, you want to have the bucket behind the back foot of the hitter. The purpose is to work on the transfer of weight from the back leg. In order to do that, we cannot simply rotate our back leg while our foot is anchored. This is why this drill is so helpful, the bucket will give you immediate feedback for incorrect or correct weight transfer.
See below for a great example. Not only has she taken aspects from the full turn and the paint stick drills, but she has also separated her foot from the bucket, working on her weight transfer. Her back is turned towards the catcher, she has separation between her back foot and the bucket, and she has a strong finish in the swing.
The Crossover Drill
Finally, we are going to put everything learned thus far into one drill, The crossover drill. This drill is going to work on maintaining good posture to and through the contact point while working hip rotation and weight transfer.
Beginning in this position is going to force the batter to maintain the K-posture that we believe in. From here, you are going to want to work on a controlled stride to the tee and begin the swing. Working from this position is going to help the weight going towards the launch point.
At the point of contact, we see a culmination of every drill worked on for power thus far. First, from the interlocking throws drill, we have a good palm up, palm down path at the point of contact. From the half and full turn drills, we see she has great hip rotation to the ball, from the paint stick and don’t squish the bug drills, she has excellent weight transfer to the launch point, so great that her back foot has come off the ground and moved forward. She is generating power from the lower half and harnessing it with her bat path. The crossover drill is a great drill to finish off the set of previous drills designed to generate power for softball.
Softball Hitting Drills for Elite Hitters
Weight Transfer and a good bat bath is essential for hitting for power in softball
These six drills are designed to generate more power for hitters across the games of softball and baseball. Working on a good path to the ball and through the zone is immediately one of the most important factors in driving the ball. Once that is worked, then can work on several drills to improve hip and lower half rotation, then work into weight transfer from the back leg through the zone, and put it all together with the crossover drill. For more drills to improve power for softball hitters, check out the hitting drills in The Hitting Vault.