How to Hit a Drop Ball in Softball
In softball, a drop ball can be one of the trickier pitches to hit. Most pitchers throw it very similarly to a fastball, and initially it will look just like one. However, this two-seam pitch will suddenly drop right out of the strike zone, like falling off a table.
If you need a few pointers on how to dominate the drop ball, keep reading. This softball guide will break down the swing you’ll need to get on top of any drop ball.
In the Box
When anticipating a drop ball, many players choose one of two places to stand in the box: In the front or in the back. These are the same two spots where batters should stand when faced with a rise ball, and for the same reason. If the pitcher throws her drop ball correctly, it will drop out of the strike zone either in the front of or on top of the plate. If the pitcher misses her spot, it will likely end up being a fastball.
By standing in the back of the box, batters anticipate that the ball will drop out of the zone before it crosses, thereby making the pitch look like a ball to the umpire. On the other hand, by standing in the front of the box, batters anticipate being able to make contact with the pitch before it starts to drop, thereby hitting it just like a fastball. The decision on where to stand is completely up to you. However, the ball might not drop exactly where you expect it to, so always be ready for anything.
When swinging at a drop ball, you cannot drop your shoulders! As tempting as it might be — to simply drop your hands in order to make contact — it’s not an option. By dropping your hands (and resultantly your shoulders) on your swing, you are likely to hit a pop-up. Instead, you should be attacking the pitch where it’s being thrown: Low.
In order to get a good swing against a drop ball, focus on throwing your hands at the ball. Visualize the sweet spot on your bat and attack the pitch with it, using a linear swing. If you dip — even the slightest amount — you will likely pop the ball up.
Use Your Legs
If the ball is at the bottom of the strike zone and you can’t quite throw your hands that low, use your legs! A batter’s power comes from her legs, so if the pitch is low, bend your knees. As a result, you won’t lose power by only swinging with your arms. If you can bend your knees deeper to get the low pitch, you’ll be able to maintain the power in your hips as you rotate on the ball.
What Your Hit Should Look Like
Again, if you swing properly, your hit should never pop up; in fact, having a downward and linear swing should result in the ball being pounded into the ground. You can definitely get a level swing on it and send a low line drive into the outfield, but that will take some practice. But if you can’t generate enough power for a line drive, you should always look to pound the ball into the dirt.
Hot Tip: You Won’t Get Better without Practice
Drop balls (and low balls altogether) aren’t the easiest pitches to hit. Because it’s easier to just drop your hands (and likely your shoulders) to make contact, teaching yourself to attack the pitch with a downward and linear swing can be tough. The best way to create muscle memory is to practice off a tee.
Simply set up a tee for a low pitch, anywhere on the plate. Practice attacking the pitch by throwing your hands and the sweet spot of the bat downward at the pitch without dipping. All of your hits should be low line drives or grounders that you’ve pounded into the ground.
Now that you know where to stand and how to swing, here are the tips to take home:
- Start with your hands at their normal ready position.
- Always use a downward, but linear swing.
- Attack the pitch. Don’t swing passively.
- Bend your knees if the pitch is at the bottom of the strike zone.
- Throw your hands and the sweet spot of the bat at the pitch.
- Do not drop your shoulders or dip as you swing.
If you’re mentally prepared for any pitch, you will be unstoppable in the box. Never give up if you are struggling at the plate. Instead, grab a tee and practice the proper mechanics. Take your time when learning how to hit this pitch, and you’ll soon be a threat to every pitcher you face.