Unlike hardball, softball is really a different game altogether. The ball is bigger, the game plays out a bit slower, and fielding is easier. That said, it is still a very competitive sport, and it is one of the more popular types of baseball around the country.
Slow pitch, fast pitch, beer leagues, industry teams and pro teams, you can find softball at virtually any ball park, and if you want to be good at it, you'll have to train your eyes.
Yes, you may not believe this, but playing a softball video game actually betters your hand/eye coordination. And hand/eye coordination is the first step in hitting any ball, softball included.
Now, I know that the whole idea about playing softball is getting out on the field. But even pro teams use video games as a tool, and if it's good enough for the pros, it's good enough for you.
Study Balls and Strikes
Find a pitcher, and anyone who can throw a ball can be a pitcher, go out to the mound without a bat, and let them pitch balls and strikes. All you need to do is watch them come in over the plate. That's it.
As you are watching pitch after pitch, either hit the strikes or lay off the balls in your mind. The whole idea here is to acclimate your eyes to what a ball and a strike look like, and the more of each you see, the better off you'll be when you actually have a bat in your hand.
Use a Brock String
No softball here, just 2 or 3 colored beads on a 10 foot long string. Start by attaching one end of the string to a door knob or any other heavy and static object. Next, pull the string tight until it touches your nose. Position the beads at an equal length between them. First, focus on the nearest one until it is crystal clear. Next, jump to the next bead in line and quickly focus on that until it is crystal clear. Do this for all three beads, and as you do, you'll notice that with the other two beads not in focus, there will appear to be 2 beads of the same color. That's exactly what you want to see. Do this between 2 and 5 minutes per day, and you'll be all set.
Ideally, you want to move the beads closer to your nose and farther down the string every time you do it, and by doing this, you'll strengthen your eye muscles and make them better able to track incoming pitches.
Eye and Bat Control
This is going to be the hardest exercise, but it may be the best of them all.
Have a pitcher stand reasonably close to home base so that they can throw uniform strikes with every pitch. With each strike thrown, swing under one with the bat, on the next strike, swing over one, and the final pitch, hit away. This is incredibly difficult because you always want to hit the ball. But by not hitting the ball, you are training your eyes to work precisely with your body and your brain. If you can master this type of control, you'll go a long way to becoming a very consistent hitter.
Base Runners Too!
When you get on base, you'll need to judge where the ball is and where it will land in relation to an outfielder. Granted, a good coach will give you prompts about when to go and when to stay, but if there are multiple base runners, you are going to be on your own.
During a regular practice, get on base and watch as hitters hit the ball. Understand how ground balls, by speed or by position, can get by the second baseman or the shortstop. Also, where do fly balls land that won't be caught, particularly right out behind the bags. Make sure to stand on every base to get a different perspective of where the ball is hit.
Eyes, Head, and Heart
Just remember, training your eyes starts with your head. But more importantly, it starts with your heart. If you want to be a mediocre softball player, go out to the ball park and just nob around with your buddies during practice. But if you actually want to be good, train your eyes to see the ball, and you'll be rewarded with a better batting average and fewer outs while running the base paths.
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