NOOOO Don’t Squish the Bug!!
Softball is a fast-paced and dynamic sport that requires a range of skills. Hitting the ball is one of the most important aspects of the game, and the rotation of hips and generating bat speed translating into power is a big key to hitting!! Over the years even yours truly decades ago would teach predominantly young or very inexperienced hitters to “Squish the Bug!! After my first year of coaching softball, I went to a coaching clinic in New Jersey and a former Olympic gold medalist and multi-national Collegiate champion coach said very profoundly “Don’t Teach “Squish the Bugs, Let the Bugs Live!”! What he went on to explain and I have been teaching it for years as I try and reverse the squish-the-bug movement is this. The lower body must come out of the Load and move forward with the back knee driving into the front leg and the front side firing the hips. What I have been teaching and preaching for years is that the Back Knee turns the Foot, the Foot does not turn the Back Knee. When you teach a player to squish the bug you are teaching them to SPIN THE FOOT creating a negative movement and taking the back end of the player’s body and heel of the back foot towards the catcher and not driving and releasing the back end towards the ball. I call this “leakage”. Leakage is when you lose the power of the big muscles located on the back leg as well as the powerful glutes. Good hitters know they need to drive the back end into a strong front end to create an explosive swing by finishing the swing with heal of the back foot pointing up towards the sky not towards the catcher.
There are numerous drills in our Softball U Training Academy Diamond Membership for teaching how to drive the back knee and rotate the hips while transferring the weight into the swing without spinning the back foot with the “Squish the Bug” technique. The real danger that I have seen over the years is when we teach players, especially young players, this bad habit that is a hard habit to break!! So, a warning to players and parents who are young or inexperienced at hitting is to make sure your coach does not teach “Squish the Bug”!!
Proper technique for the softball swings without squishing the bug!
Proper techniques are essential to executing the softball swing without ever squishing the bug! Here are some tips to help you master the swing!!
- Start with a strong athletic stance: The hitters’ feet should be a little wider than shoulder-width apart, and the weight should be slightly more on the back foot in strong a pre-load position!
- As the pitcher delivers the ball, the hitter begins to shift the weight back with the hands and bat moving back also creating some separation from the body as they begin the Load!
- As the hitter strides forward, coming out of the Load the back elbow will come down to Connection in the arm slot with the Top Hand controlling the barrel and staying above the bottom hand as the hitter begins to drive the back knee, which will turn the back foot with the back foot heal coming up toward the sky.
- As the back end begins to follow the back knee, the front foot will go to a 45-degree angle at what is called “Toe Touch” and the front knee will lock in a firm position as the weight transfer begins!!
- As the body rotates the Head must stay still and track the ball to the Power L at the Contact point.
- After making Contact with the ball, the hitter will continue the rotation of the body as the hands extend out towards the pitcher as they drive the ball with a great Power V Extension driving the ball towards the fence.
- After full Extension, the hitter should go to a Hinge one or two-hand finish with the chin landing on the back shoulder.