The softball swing is a complex motion that helps develop strength, timing and hand-eye coordination. But because it is so complex, it can be difficult to teach to a youngster. You need a willing youngster, a suitably sized softball bat, softballs, the appropriate space and patience. Due to the variety of body parts it takes to swing a softball bat, it is essential to begin with the basics to set yourself up for a successful lesson.
Successful Set Up
Choose a space to teach the youngster successfully. Many of your local baseball and softball fields will have outdoor batting cages adjacent to them, which is a great place to teach a youngster. Otherwise, any large outdoor space will do -- as long you don't mind walking long distances to pick up the batted balls; it'll take longer and may wear on the youngster's attention span.
Set up the bucket about 20 feet away from the batter. You'll be sitting on the bucket as you softly underhand toss softballs at the young hitter. This will conserve your energy, patience and help keep your head still so that you can see the swing of the youngster clearly after you toss the ball.
Set up an "L" screen to protect you as you throw batting practice. Most baseball and softball fields will have screens made of rope spread over a metal frame, and the screen will usually come in the shape of an "L." Slide the screen directly in front of you so you can toss the ball around the screen and keep your body protected from batted balls.
Set up a hitting tee on the home plate or wherever your youngster to be swinging the bat. Adjust the height of the tee so, when the ball is rested on it, the ball sits at the belt buckle of the youngster.
Prepare the Youngster
Impress upon the youngster that safety is the number one goal in softball, and that the "softball" isn't so soft. Tell her that a helmet must always be worn and that swinging a softball bat is only permissible when she is told to do so. Even when told, she must first look around to see that the area is clear before swinging.
Show her the correct grip on the bat by making her spread her fingers out and showing her the middle knuckle on her fingers. Then have her grip the handle of the bat with her hands touching; right hand on top of the left if the batter is right handed and vice-versa for left handed hitters. The middle knuckles on both hands should make a straight line down her grip.
Put her the proper distance away from home plate in the batter's box. The proper spot in the batter's box is where she can fully extend their arms and reach the outside part of the strike-zone with the end of her bat. This way she'll have full plate-coverage in competition.
Position the youngster's feet properly. She should stand about shoulder width apart, but can be wider if it is comfortable for the youngster. Have her bend her knees slightly for better balance.
Get the bat into the proper position. Raise her hands to about chest height near the shoulder farthest away from the pitcher. Her hands and elbows should make a triangle, with the elbows and arms nice and relaxed.
Instruct the youngster that the swing is a "pull and punch" motion. The bottom hand on the bat will pull the butt of the bat towards the ball, while the top hand punches through the ball. Tell her to follow through with the swing so the bat comes to a stop around the body, almost hitting her back.
Instruct her that they need to step toward the pitcher while keeping her head and eyes down on the ball. Tell her to imagine that there are three balls on the tee, setup one right in front of the other in the direction of the pitcher, and they need to hit through all three balls.
Teach her to unleash her hips to generate power. Show her that she should throw her back hip joint at the pitcher when swinging. This should take her back foot off the ground on follow through and allow her to follow through more fluidly.
Set the ball up on the tee and instruct the hitter to swing while you pay attention to her execution. You execute this step in between each lesson for at least 10 swings. Focus only on the most recent lesson so the youngster does not get overwhelmed or confused.
Live Batting Practice
Take your seat on the bucket behind the screen. Slowly toss the softballs at the hitter some 15 to 20 feet away. Pay attention to her swing and tell her what to correct every three to five tosses.
Have some fun. Tell the youngster that she should try to hit you while you sit on the bucket (remember, you'll be protected by the screen). Act out every time she hits you for positive reinforcement.
Know that hitting the ball back at the pitcher, or back up the middle, is the most fundamental approach in softball. Doing this will streamline the youngster's approach at the plate and help solidify her mechanics while having fun. This simple mechanism will show dramatic competitive improvement.