HITTING TIPS

Kids fresh out of slow-pitch softball invariably have flaws in their stance, stride, swing and finish -- like the exaggerated wind up before the swing (a rotation instead of a lateral move).

Players continue to refine their flaws throughout their "slow-pitch" careers so they can hit the ball harder and farther. Coaches may try to teach better hitting techniques, but kids generally don't change because they know what works.

Then, of course, as the players progress into higher levels of the game, they encounter faster pitchers, and inevitably the techniques that worked in the past become liabilities. Very good "slow-pitch" power hitters become lousy fastpitch hitters because:

* the exaggerated wind up or negative move (rotating the arms and shoulders, with little control, before the swing) increases the distance the bat has to cover to reach the hitting zone, and contributes to late, sweeping swings;

* the long stride and the early shifting of too much weight to the front foot locks the hips -- as a result, the legs contribute little towards the quickness and power necessary to hit pitches in excess of 50 mph and the player puts herself in a position (with all her weight on her front foot) to be totally fooled by the change-up;

* an early extension of the arms, whether preceded by an exaggerated wind up or not, results in a sweeping swing with no hip turn -- the result is slow bat speed and loss of the power generated by the legs.

Teaching the fundamentals necessary to overcome these poor hitting techniques can be a frustrating experience for both coaches and players. All of these flaws inhibit progress in achieving the most important objectives of the fastpitch hitter.