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4 Tips for Helping Your Hitters Increase Their Power

By: Cindy Bristow

Using your legs is crucial to hitting the ball hard. But it can be difficult to teach so discover 4 things that will really help your hitters increase their power by better using their legs.

Our legs are the strongest muscles in our bodies and yet so many of our hitters simply hit with all arms. Learn how a simple device can make a big difference in your hitter’s power.

Using our legs sounds easy since we use our legs all the time for things like walking, running, throwing, pitching, fielding, even coaching 3rd base, but knowing how to use them properly while hitting can get confusing for players. When we hit, our legs provide two very important contributions: Balance and Power. While the power part seems really important don’t underestimate the need for our hitters to maintain their balance. The truth is once our bodies lose balance we shut down everything else we’re doing (like trying to hit a ball) in order to keep ourselves from wiping out.

But if you’ve ever tried getting your players to use their legs more while hitting then you know how difficult it can be to teach. Things like loading to driving forward to finishing their swings can give hitters all kinds of problems and the biggest reason is these things involve a hitter using her legs, and hitters aren’t really sure how to do that. Too many hitters think that hitting involves just using their arms so they have no clue what to do with their legs.

Fastpitch Softball Free Article 4 Tips for Helping Your Hitters Increase Their Power - BOSU Ball

Don’t think this problem only happens with girls as lots of Major League Baseball players have worked for years on improving the use of their legs by practicing with a Bosu Ball. A Bosu Ball is that big, blue, half-round ball you find in gyms that people use for balance and core strength by either standing on them while lifting weights or turning them over and doing pushups. Anyway, baseball found another use for the bosu ball by having a hitter place his back foot on it and pushing off as he swings.

Using a bosu ball to practicing hitting is a great idea, but not too practical in softball. First of all, it isn’t very portable since it’s kind of heavy and hard to carry. And secondly, the bosu ball is too tall for most of our players to use in anything resembling a realistic batting stance. While the idea behind using it is sound, it doesn’t help if the hitter has to completely change her stance in order to use it.

Fastpitch Softball Free Article 4 Tips for Helping Your Hitters Increase Their Power - First Picture

But I have found something that works just like the bosu ball that allows softball players to keep their normal batting stance while being very portable. The Power Pod is a tremendous teaching tool that I’ve used successfully to help hitters of all ages better use their legs. What I love about the Power Pod is that it will teach your hitters the following:

  • Improve their Balance
  • Help Activate their Legs
  • Increase their Power
  • Improve their Load
  • Help with Linear Movement

Here’s how it works – the hitter places the Power Pod under her back foot and gets into her batting stance, as shown in the picture above.

I use this simple little device in the following 4 ways to really help hitters better understand and utilize their legs:

  1. Use the Fast Part of Their Feet – I put this first because hitters commonly eliminate their legs from their swing before they even start. Too many times a hitter will get into her stance and put her weight on the back part of her foot over her heel, instead of using the fast and powerful front part of her foot. You can see in this side-by-side picture below the hitter on the left has her weight on her heels (incorrect) while the hitter on the right has the weight more over the front part of her foot (correct). To see how much weight this hitter has placed on her heels, look at the right- side photo (correct) and notice the white portion on the heel part of her shoe – you don’t even see this when she has her weight over her heels.

    Fastpitch Softball Free Article 4 Tips for Helping Your Hitters Increase Their Power - Picture 01

    This simple mistake of placing too much weight over the slower part of the hitter’s feet – her heels – sets the tone for the entire swing by making it hard for her to stay balanced while also making her legs slow and awkward. Instead, the Power Pod will immediately engage the hitter’s use of her legs by making her work to place the ball of her back foot on the Power Pod instead of her heel.

  2. Fastpitch Softball Free Article 4 Tips for Helping Your Hitters Increase Their Power - Picture 02

  3. Load with the Lower Body – Teaching hitters to load properly can be really difficult since it might seem rather simple but is a fairly complicated concept. Basically, “loading” is the act of going back to go forward. We do it all the time when we throw, shoot a bow and arrow, fling a rubber band, or deliver a boxing punch. In order to explode something forward (like a bat during a swing) we need to first go backwards to gather our power over our backside to add more power forward.
    Fastpitch Softball Free Article 4 Tips for Helping Your Hitters Increase Their Power - Picture 03
    When young hitters try to load the two mistakes you’ll typically see are the Back Knee Tilt and the Upper Body Tilt. Both are wrong since they weaken the hitter instead of keeping her in a strong position allowing her to build strength for her swing.

    To help your hitters understand how to load properly and to help them really feel the power of their legs, have your hitters place their back foot on the Power Pod, get into their batting stance and then push down into the Power Pod. This results in the Pod pushing back.

  4. Drive Forward (Linear) – Hitters really want to twist sideways instead of allowing their power to drive forward toward the pitcher and the ball. Again, the Power Pod really helps the hitter feel the forward or linear movement and will really expose those hitters that stay back and twist throughout their swing. To do this have your hitters get into their stance with the Power Pod under their back foot and then push down 4-5 times into the Pod. This will really allow their legs to relax, loosen up and feel the forward direction from the Power Pod.
  5. Fastpitch Softball Free Article 4 Tips for Helping Your Hitters Increase Their Power - Picture 07

    Fastpitch Softball Free Article 4 Tips for Helping Your Hitters Increase Their Power - Picture 05

  6. Push Instead of Pull – This is an interesting one but many hitters feel that their stride foot pulls them forward instead of allowing their back side to push or drive them forward through the swing. Hitters need to keep their weight over their back foot during the stride and then use their back foot/side to push forward behind their hands, thus adding power to their swing. This is where the Power Pod really helps hitters. It will take them a while to learn to place most of their weight over or onto the Power Pod and use their back foot and leg to drive forward instead of either pulling forward with their stride leg, or going “up” with their upper body. To help them use their back leg properly make sure your hitters are placing the majority of the ball of their back foot on the Power Pod versus just putting their toes on the Pod.
    Fastpitch Softball Free Article 4 Tips for Helping Your Hitters Increase Their Power - Picture 04
    The final thing that the Power Pod will help your hitters improve is their balance by better using their front foot. The more power a hitter delivers during her swing the more important it is for her front foot to stay strong and manage that power. The photos above show what can happen with your hitter’s front foot when your hitter hits a ball off of either a Batting T or a soft toss. You can easily tell which front foot position allows the hitter to hit the ball hard, and which one results in a mess.

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