Learning The Linear Swing
Listen, any good softball player has gone through a downright miserable slump. These can consist of few weeks of bad strikeouts, weakly hit fly-outs, and a drop in overall confidence. And if they fall into their slump at the wrong time, the consequences could be lethal to a team’s chances of succeeding in the long run.
However, CoachUp has a potentially game-changing tip for you: the linear swing. Harnessing the power of the linear swing can be difficult and frustrating, given that it’s so drastically different than the swing you’ve used your entire life, but it might be key to busting out of that slump.
Linear Versus Rotational
First off, it’s imperative to know the difference between the two major types of swings in softball -- linear and rotational. Whether your realize it or not, most softball players employ the rotational swing and have their entire lives as well. When you’re learning how to swing, new athletes are told to rotate their wrists, hips, and legs in order to get the most torque and power behind an attempt.
However, the linear swing practices almost the exact opposite and wants the hitter to whip the bat with as minimal rotation as possible. It can literally be as simple as swinging with your two arms outstretched without the help of another body part. And, generally speaking, will help compact your swing and get the bat on the ball more often.
The linear swing is almost exclusively found in softball, thanks to its inherently downward swing. The lack of rotation will help the hitter stay on top of the ball and create contact into the ground, instead of up in the air. Comparatively, the rotational attempt naturally leads the hitter to swing with more of an uppercut -- which might equate to more home runs, but just as many weak pop-outs.
That’s why the linear swing is so practical and effective in softball -- for players in a slump, it will help the hitter put the ball in play with a very no frills approach. You can’t score runs without getting on base, and you can’t get on base by hitting weak fly-outs. Eliminate the complexity of hitting out by taking your feet, shoulders, and wrists out of the equation. Don't worry about hits, homers, or extra swings, just put it into play and let your legs do the rest.
It’s All In The Eyes
If a person's eyes are moving then it makes hitting the ball square an almost impossible task. Check to make sure your eyes are not jostled as the pitch is coming in. Being focused and locked in on the pitch will make you a much stronger hitter -- you can't hit something you can't see, obviously! Staying quiet and smooth in the lower half of your body will help the eyes maintain a single reference point as a hitter attempts to track the softball. Hitters are likely to find more consistency in a simple swing that limits any up and down movement of the head and eyes.
The Hands Are Your Greatest Weapon of All
The hands must be connected to the hips so that they do not get left behind in the swing. While inadequate upper body strength in this type of swing can pose an obstacle for females trying to mastering the linear swing, it can be overcome by adjusting the timing of each body part.
For some hitters, it may be necessary to start the hands moving forward slightly before starting the hips to ensure the hips and the hands get to the ball together. If the hands do not get through to the ball, they'll lag behind the hips and result in either weak pop-ups to the opposite field or slow ground balls to the pull side of the field thanks to the rolling over of the hands as an attempt to catch-up to the hips.
Hips Don’t Lie
Make sure the hips don’t move so far forward with the linear motion that it causes the back shoulder to drop. The linear hip movement should be slight and allow the hitter to remain stacked -- shoulders over hips, hips over knees, etc.
One trick to maintaining this appropriate stance is to keep one's head back, while not leaning out over the plate or lunging at the ball. Also, as a drill, the hitter may want to try lifting her toes up inside the front shoe while hitting off a tee or front toss. Just keep in mind that lifting the toes should not cause the cleat to come off the ground -- ultimately, it’s just a slight adjustment of the toes to help the hitter focus on balance.
(Related: Read about improving your bat skills here.)
So, at the end of the day, the linear swing isn’t an easy switch to make, but if you’re in a serious slump, it might be a risk worth taking. Remember, breaking out of a slump doesn’t mean smashing the ball -- that seems to skip three steps in the process. By shortening your swing mechanics, you’re more likely to put the ball in play and that’s the first important step.
But if you’re still mentally struggling to jump over the hurdles, consider booking one of CoachUp’s private trainers to help you out. Our experienced staff can help you fix that swing in no time! What are you waiting for?