Focus on Keeping Player’s Hands Inside the Ball with This Softball Hitting Drill
In order to hit effectively, your players have to keep their hands inside the ball’s trajectory. This ensures that they connect with the “meaty” portion of the bat, rather than farther down the handle. Of course, it can be difficult to do this, particularly for newer players. Thankfully, the knob drill can help your players develop the right stance and the right hold on the bat. It’s a very simple drill, and can be done on the field, or can be performed at home during your players’ off time.
A Look at the Drill
For the knob drill, you’ll only need a few basic pieces of equipment. You’ll obviously need a batter, but you’ll also need a softball bat, a tee and a ball, as well as an area in which to practice. If you’re on the field, you have plenty of space, but this drill can also be done in any number of other areas, including inside a gym if the weather’s not cooperating for outdoor practice.
To get started, have your player stand at the tee and choke up on the bat handle. The tee should be set so that the ball is at the top of the player’s strike zone. Now, have your player lead with her elbow and throw her hands along an inside path that follows a straight line across her chest. It should lead directly toward the ball. The bat’s knob should lead right to the ball. Do this for several rounds off the tee, and then you can change things up.
Add another player to the mix once your hitter has a good grasp of how to grip the bat and the motion needed. Have the other player soft toss the ball to the hitter, who will then repeat the motion used at the tee. While you can use a standard softball here, a softie is a better idea, or even a whiffle ball if a softie isn’t available. This is to help prevent injury to player’s hands if they aren’t able to keep them out of the ball’s line.
Tips and Tricks
The knob drill can be performed pretty much anywhere that you can set up a tee and have enough room to swing. That means it’s an ideal option for players looking to get in a little solo time while off the field. Using a tee is only so much help, though, so players going the solo route should consider having a partner soft toss the ball to them once they’re sure they have the grip and stance down. Coaches can help by running the team through this drill multiple times during official practice sessions. Not only does this provide players with a cognitive understanding of the drill, but it helps to foster muscle memory. That is – an almost automatic response to a motor task that’s preformed so often that it becomes almost automatic.
Alternate this with other drills, such as bam bams or the tennis ball drop to help improve your players’ complete range of batting skills.
For players practicing at home, the back yard is the best option as this will allow plenty of room for your swing. However, you can also practice it in the garage or another enclosed area with enough space for the bat to swing so long as you’re using something like a whiffle ball or a softie. Don’t use conventional softballs indoors.