Category: SOFTBALL

TIPS ON MOULDING YOUR MOUTHGUARD

Wearing a mouthguard in contact sports is very important, especially for junior players. A properly fitted mouthguard is essential for you to be protected.

How to mould a mouthguard:

Firstly, boil a small pot of water and submerge the mouthguard for about 20 to 30 seconds. Your mouthguard should have instructions for the correct amount of time. Remember, the mouthguard should be heated to the point that you are able to mould it not the point where it is beginning to melt.

Remove the mouthguard from the water using tongs (you do not want to deform the mouthguard by squeezing too tightly). Cool the mouthguard either by dipping it in cool water or allowing it to air dry. Check your mouthguard instructions to see if water is recommended. You only need to cool the mouthguard to the point where you can put it in your mouth without burning yourself.

Place the mouthguard in your mouth to mould it. Push the mouthguard against your teeth with your fingers and bite down lightly. Pull the guard tighter to your teeth by placing your tongue against the roof of your mouth and sucking the air and water out.

Now you need to cool the mouthguard. Some instructions say that the guard needs to cool rapidly after it has been fitted by dipping it in cold water. If the mouthguard does not fit properly, you can remould it by starting the process again.

Using a mouth-formed mouthguard is the easiest way to ensure the mouthguard fits perfectly to your mouth. Be sure to inspect your mouthguard frequently and replace it if it becomes deformed or you notice that the edges become jagged.

Sportsmart stocks a variety of mouthguards for both seniors and juniors. You can view our range of mouthguards online or visit our stores to select the type that will best suit your needs.

OPRO Platinum Mouthguard - blue/red

OPRO Platinum Mouthguard – blue/red

HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR SOFTBALL THROW

Even the most seasoned athlete needs to improve their game sometimes. Know that patience, practice and control are key factors to improving your softball throw. No matter what age you are, basic pitching techniques and mechanics are generally the same.

Start by warming up daily. A brief or short warm up will make you more flexible and will ultimately prevent short or long term sports injury. Try to also condition yourself with non-softball related exercises. This could typically include running, weight lifting or swimming. The aim with these types of work outs is to increase your overall endurance, strength and speed.

Practice and focus on mechanics. Many professionals spend hours perfecting the game, even when they are alone. Find a local batter’s box. You will probably meet other softball players this way, if you are not already on a team. You can pitch, they can hit. Know how to properly grip and release. Techniques to incorporate into your practice sessions are: the swim, wrist flips, receiving and front arm drills.

Set goals by writing down a schedule. Write down each throwing technique you learned and how long it took you to perfect them. As with any learning forum, it is a good idea to keep track of what you learned and how you went about learning.

And finally, practice every chance you get!

HOW TO THROW A CURVE BALL IN SOFTBALL

Pitching in fast pitch softball is perhaps the most important factor in winning and losing games. A good softball pitcher can keep their team in any game even if the other team has better players. One of the keys to effective pitching is being able to throw a variety of pitches. The curveball is one of the most effective pitches in the game. Many softball hitters can attack a fast ball, but lack the confidence and ability to adjust to the curveball. As a result, they stress out whenever they see a curveball pitcher.

Start by learning the strategies for curveballs. The pitcher can start a curveball so it looks like it is coming right over the plate and then have it drop out of the strike zone just as it gets to the hitting zone. By that point the hitter has committed to hitting the ball and misses it. The other type of curveball is one of that looks like it is going to be out of the strike zone and then drops into it at the last instant. The result of this pitch is usually a called strike.

Grip the softball with your thumb running along the seams of the softball and your second and third fingers along the opposite seams. Do not squeeze the ball tightly with your fingers. In fact you should have a light grip with your index finger barely pressing down on the ball’s seams.

Do not snap your wrist when you let go of the softball. When you throw a fastball, your wrist snaps to provide additional power. For a curveball, let the ball roll off your finger tips. The pressure comes from your thumb and middle finger, while the spin that comes off the ball will make it curve.

Do not change the speed of your arm, nor the angle of your pitching arm when you are throwing the curve. The more you change those things, the greater the chance the batter has of realising you are about to throw a curveball. You don’t want to giveaway what is coming.

Learn the mechanics of the fastball before you try to learn to throw a curve ball. The fastball is the most important pitch in the game and a curveball will not be as effective unless the pitcher already has a good fastball.

HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR SOFTBALL SWING

In softball, in order to improve you have to master the complex motion that is required to swing a bat. Working out is not enough, you have to sharpen your hand eye coordination. You have to learn to move and also keep your balance.

Grip the bat tightly with your strong hand (right hand if you swing right handed) above your lead hand. The bottom of your strong hand should be in contact with your lead hand, and all of your middle knuckles on both hands should line up across the grip. Gripping the bat at the bottom of the handle gives you more leverage.

Step into the batters box just far enough away from the plate where you can swing and hit a pitch on the outside corner of the strike zone. You may need to take a practice swing to see. If you do not have strike zone coverage the pitcher will easily get you out.

Set your feet just a little wider than shoulder width apart. Bend at the knees slightly so you can bounce up and down easily keeping balance. Raise the grip on your bat about chest height behind your head. Your hands and your elbows should make a triangle, with your elbows resting about waist height. Do not cock your elbow, it is likely to reduce the athleticism in your swing.

Get an eye on the pitcher and follow the ball. Breathe in and exhale slowly as the ball approaches the plate. Keep a loose grip on the bat to maximise bat speed; your hands will naturally tighten as they swing forward.

HOW TO PITCH FASTER IN SOFTBALL

A good softball pitch has three basic stages that you must master in order to throw the ball accurately and effectively. The three main elements of a fast softball pitch are how fast the pitcher drives off the rubber; reaching back after the down swing and pushing back on the stride leg. Keep in mind that while you can practice your pitching as much as you want, the best way to improve your technique is to get help from a coach.

Start by springing off your push off leg. While a long stride is also important, speed as you push off is necessary too. Reach back with your pitching arm, creating a large circle. When you get halfway around the circle, tilt just the upper part of your body backwards a bit. While you do this, reach back towards second base. This will allow your arm to whip around better giving you more energy to release the pitch.

Stand tall as you pitch the ball. You’ll want your stride leg solid, your upper body erect and your overall body strong. Experiment with variations on a basic softball pitching stance. Try to start your pitch while bending, crouching or standing straight up. Vary how far back you swing your arm and how much you pivot off your back foot. Ultimately, you want to find the combination of mechanics that will work best for you and make your pitch faster.

Concentrate on your body while you are pitching. Try to practice at least every week to master the technique that works for you. Don’t try to find a new technique instead focus on the one that seems to be working best for you.

WORKOUTS THAT IMPROVE PITCHING SPEED

Pitching a softball at a high rate of speed with accuracy is a skill that pitchers need to constantly work on. Softball pitchers must have in their routine an exercise regimen that includes workouts aimed specifically at improving pitching speed.

Pitching velocity relies on coordination throughout many parts of the body and having strong, stable legs is essential. The ability to drive the leg into the ground with force has a significant effect on the speed of the ball. Therefore, pitcher workouts should include exercises that will help improve leg strength such as lunges, squats, calf raises, leg presses and leg curls.

Although some pitchers and pitching coaches shy away from heavy upper body workouts because they fear they might injure their throwing arm, pitchers who include upper body resistance training can increase their pitching speed. In fact, stronger shoulder muscles can significantly help to prevent injuries. Some exercises include, bench presses, rowing machine work and push ups.

In addition to working out major muscle groups, there are some resistance exercises that will help the pitcher increase velocity. Pitchers can pitch with a weighted baseball. This will make a regulation ball seem easier to release at higher speeds.

HOW TO BE A BETTER CATCHER

To become a better catcher it is essential that you are aware of your role on your team. You are there primarily to catch for your pitcher and manage the defence. The following will provide you with some basic steps on how to improve your game and become a better catcher.

It is important to learn every possible pitch. Know how fast pitches are thrown and where you need to position your glove. Practice catching as much as possible. Ask your pitcher to pitch to you or use a pitching machine if you have access to one, if not ask someone else to throw to you. To keep your knees healthy you can catch while sitting on a chair.

Practice throwing to all of the bases. Your throws need to be accurate and quick. Wear your catching equipment so that you are ready for game day. Practice communicating to your pitcher as well as the rest of your team before and after each pitch. Remind infielders to watch base runners. Announce how many outs you have and where the next play should happen.

Having the correct equipment is also very important. You don’t want to be on the receiving end of a pitch and having bats swung at your head without wearing protective gear. Your equipment should include body pads, a face mask and helmet. Your catcher’s mitt is a different kind of glove with more padding.

Sportsmart stocks a variety of baseball and softball equipment to allow you to perform at your best. Visit our stores to check out our range.