Hitting a home run in slow pitch softball is an art form. In many cases in higher-level leagues and tournaments, home runs are expected. In week-to-week hitting for recreational leagues, getting a homer every night is something that rarely happens in reality. Yet there are certain techniques batters can use that will get more power every time.
Step Into It
I must admit, I'm kind of wimpy when it comes to my batting stance. I'm just good enough on the softball field to have fun but have no desire to play competitively. That's why I umpired for several years--I loved being around the game without playing it. Yet skinny guys like me without much visible power can still add pop to hit by stepping into a pitch. That adds more momentum and adds extra oomph to the hit.
Hit Your Pitch
A good pitch is different for someone who is 5 feet 8 inches than for a batter who is 6-4. Wait for your pitch to hit a homer. You don't have to hit one with every at-bat. Getting one out of the park simply means waiting at the right pitch in a game to hit one. There will be one of those pitches in the game eventually--the odds are good the more plate appearances you get.
Extend the Bat
In baseball, batters transfer more power to the bat when they hold the handle all the way against the knob. Doing so allows you to adjust your stance better and gets the sweet spot of the bat in the right place during a swing. More importantly, the rotational power transfers better when the wrists snap around to create the powerful swing.
Hitting a home run in slow pitch means returning the ball in nearly the same direction whence it came. That means swinging level at a waist-high pitch. Hitting the bottom half of the ball, as opposed to the middle, is the key to getting enough lift with a fluid swing. Getting under the ball too much means a pop-up and an out. Even if you miss the bottom of the ball and get the middle or even the top, a single can still result with a solid swing.
Get a feel for the pitcher with the first couple of at-bats. Then in the middle innings when your pitch comes up, drill it for the fences. It's almost like lulling the pitcher into a false sense of security. If you've seen your favorite pitch earlier in the game, know when the pitcher is likely to throw it. Watch other batters on your team to see what is presented in various situations.
Gaining weight makes it easier to drive the ball farther. The most successful home run hitters I saw in my years of umpiring were muscular specimens of humanity that were able to drive the ball farther with less effort. It's just softball, but working out and adding some healthy weight might be a way to get more power. Of course, consult your doctor or nutritionist before starting a workout and/or muscle building regimen.
William Browning umpired recreational softball leagues in southwest Missouri for seven years in the 1990s.
- Sports & Recreation