UNLV Softball Contrast Training Drill

The 16" softball is a tool that I use here at UNLV that will provide any player the opportunity to understand the idea of proper contact and drive through the ball.

It's common in the Midwest where I'm from, to see 16" softball being played throughout the city/suburb parks. It's been a real culture shock for me coming out west where kids have never seen what a 16" softball looks like or feels like to hit.

Safety First

This is how you can make a 16" softball work for your program (baseball or softball) in safe manner.

I've heard of many drills implementing deflated basketballs and volleyballs to help kids understand how to drive through a pitch, but here's a safer and more practical method that can be used in the players' development. (Especially with the possibility of wrist and rebounding-bat injuries to the face/head when using a basketball.)

I'm not reinventing the wheel here, but I'm hopefully getting coaches to understand the possibility of another tool for their arsenal. I use this drill in combination with regular 12" softballs so that they can feel the mass and the center of each softball.

Size Does Matter

What the kids will experience with the 16" softball is that if their legs and hands aren't working together at the point of contact, they'll get a ball flight that will simply die to the ground.

Our players will also learn to understand that if their legs aren't moving in a "pushing on plane" manner, that will affect ball fight as well.

How It's Done

This drill can be used with either front toss behind a screen or side toss next to the hitter. Give the athlete about two or three repetitions with the 16" softball and then keep switching back and forth with the 12". The result will be an athlete who accelerates with precision and speed faster than they normally would.

It's not uncommon for a tennis ball, which gives even more variance of size and weight, to be introduced into the training. Vision, feeling of weight changes and mechanics should all be stressed throughout this drill.

The drill trains a contrast or ballistic training of a similar idea of uphill, flatland and downhill running that I've commonly used when I was a strength and conditioning coach. I use this drill prior to competition to promote "peaking of performance" that will be needed in the heat of competition.

Benefits of Contrast Training

You'll see an increase in homerun production, team batting average and RBI production if the method that you use has rhyme and reason. Note: There are companies that make heavier 12" softballs but you'll come to find that they're very expensive. Take the less expensive and safer route and invest in a 16".

Thanks for your time and remember "use drills for a reason not for entertainment." Good luck.

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