Categories
Life Sports

What I learned playing softball 3 nights a week this summer

Softball image by Kelsey Vere from Pixabay

Most summers, we play softball one night a week. A few years ago that got bumped up to twice a week – only because the league I joined played two nights a week. It was still just one league. Last year, we kept to 2 nights a week – but in two different leagues. This year, we jumped ahead and upped our game a little bit – three nights a week.

And not offsetting nights either; every week we played 3 nights back-to-back-to-back, with no break in between nights (barring any teams not able to play or rain-outs). Most weeks this meant 3 games, but there were some weeks where we had two double-headers back-to-back, so we would play 5 games in 3 nights. Craziness!

I predominantly played third base, though I shifted around the corners playing 1st, left and right fields, and occasionally rover (we’re not as good as MLB players – we need at least 1 extra outfield position to actually stand a chance) as needed. There were some nights I just didn’t have it defensively, but I felt that I improved immensely at third base simply from having the extra reps at the position. Well, on the catching side of things. I have issues throwing on target in a hurry.

On the offensive side, I think it’s best described as being a wash for the entire season. This is essentially what I expected – that I would have some good games and some bad games. Near the end of the season I was stringing together several really good at-bats; unfortunately I struggled a bit right at the end. Things turned around a little bit during the tournaments, and again in Fall Ball, but really I’m ready to end the season so I’m not too worried about it.

The end result is that I’m not getting super upset with myself when I don’t have a good game at the plate. I really hate messing up defensively, but just knowing I’m going to get a billion more chances to hit the ball helps mentally get over the sting of going 0-for-3 or something on a night. I find it much worse to be the cause of a run scoring against you than it is to not be able to get on base.

So what did I learn? It’s not worth beating myself up for missed plays or bat plate appearances. It’s a rec league – everybody else is in the same boat.

Categories
Goals

Timing

Recently I posted about some goals I had and one of them was to fix my swing for softball. I think in my head I had some ideas about changing my mechanics and maybe swinging up at the ball, or something like that. In my head I was going to hit home runs, probably.

I didn’t put any thought or practice to this other than just going up to the plate and start swinging.  I went to one practice a couple of Fridays ago, and that’s where I started to work on it.  My first step to everything was to just ease into swinging – I haven’t swung a bat all Fall/Winter, and judging by how sore I’ve been the last week, my muscles are geared toward curling, not softball (and especially not running).  This part was easy – I think I would score 100% on “taking it easy” in the first practice.

But the results weren’t great.  Mostly a lot of weak hits, a lot of opposite field, a lot of foul balls.  Fast forward to the first two games and I hit a heck of a lot of little ground ball dribblers.  I couldn’t tell you for sure but it felt like I was either just on top or just below the ball with the bat.  I definitely wasn’t making solid contact.

We had another practice this past Saturday.  I came in with a specific focus: I needed to fix my swing.  I spent a bit of time watching everyone else hit, until finally I took my turn up to bat.  I know you should always practice the way you want to play, but since I wanted to hit a lot of balls, I was going to swing at everything.  In a game, I probably want to avoid the “bad” pitches, but I’m also not going to get nearly as many pitches as I would in practice.

Making the decision to swing at everything was my first step to fixing my swing.  The second step was again to just ease into it – I wasn’t concerned about how far I was hitting the ball, I just wanted to make solid contact.  I made sure to take some practice swings, remaining cognizant of my wrist positioning and keeping the bat level, and not “swooping” it up.

When I first got to the plate, I had a sudden realization: I was waiting too long to start my swing.  For two seasons I’ve been going opposite field, and had many weak grounders (because I was on top of the ball, usually).  All because I was swinging late.  With that in mind – and the decision that I was swinging at everything – I just started my swing a little earlier than I had been, and not waiting on it to see where it would end up across the plate.

And I was hitting everything.  Solid contact across the board.  Some hits were a little shorter than others – probably due to the height of the ball across the plate more than anything.  But I had some real good, solid line drives.  I hit to the fence (including the top of the fence), to the warning track.  You name it.  No home runs but I wasn’t worried about that.  I was also pulling everything again, something I hadn’t done in a long time.

I was really excited after my at-bat.  At the time of writing I haven’t played yet – I will add an update before posting though.  I’m not sure how I’m going to approach the in-game situation – I don’t necessarily want to swing at everything.  But I know at least that I can’t decide too late for my swings.


Game update:

I think I hit 3/6 or something like that across two games.  I didn’t have everything going too well in the first game, but the second game was a marked improvement.  My last hit in the 2nd game was a grounder up the right side because I decided too late to start my swing.  However – I would rather be able to change which side I hit based on timing, rather than making it obvious and shifting my body.

All in all, a good week of softball!