Creating a Pre-game Hitting Routine for Softball
What happens during a softball team’s pre-game warm-up is usually a good indicator of what will unfold during the game. If the bats are hot during the warm-up, they’ll usually stay hot during the game, too. This is why most coaches call for 60- to 90-minute warm-ups, with at least 30 minutes dedicated to hitting. That way, each player has enough time to get the kinks out of her swing. This softball guide outlines a way to make your team’s pre-game hitting routine as efficient as possible.
Even the most competitive teams need to have a bunting station as part of their warm-up routine. Whether you have a live pitcher or a machine, every player should bunt at least one bucket of balls before game time. Every bunt should be practiced:
If a coach can be confident calling any bunt, it will be a whole lot easier to advance runners without sacrificing too many outs.
Tee Work & Side Toss
The second station that needs to be part of a team’s pre-game hitting routine should feature tee work and side toss. Often, these two skills can be done at the same station, as long as the girls are partnered up. For this station, every player should hit at least two full buckets of balls (one bucket on the tee, and one bucket for side toss).
On the tee, every player should practice hitting each pitch location (down-the-middle, inside, and outside). Hitting different heights (high and low) will also prove beneficial. If the opposing pitcher has a known go-to pitch, time should be spent on that pitch, as well.
After each player hits at least one bucket of balls off the tee, they should switch to side toss. During side toss, each player can focus on the basic mechanics of their swing:
- Rotate the hips
- Pivot the back foot
- Extend the arms (towards the pitcher)
- Make solid contact (with the arms extended)
- Follow through
Hot Tip: Pitchers & Catchers Go First
For most teams, half of the girls will be hitting and the other half will be picking up balls at the front toss station during the warm-up. To make the most of your team’s time, have the pitchers and catchers go first. By doing this, they too can get some swings in before hitting the bullpen.
Front Toss Station
The final station should be a front toss station. Front toss allows the players to work specifically on timing to find their swing rhythm. Using whiffle balls or lightweight (foam) softballs, each player should hit at least one bucket of front toss. This is the last opportunity for each girl to get the kinks out of her swing before stepping into the batter’s box.
If you have a big team, having two of each station (two bunting stations, two front toss stations, etc.) may help your team get through the warm-up quickly. It will also ensure that every player gets in enough swings before the coin toss. Just make sure to pay attention to the clock. You don’t want to spend all of your time hitting — your team will still have to throw and get in an infield/outfield warm-up!