Mark Richards


Thursday, July 15, 2004

New Softball Team, New Swing

Last night was my first game as a part of the Turner Sports softball team. The team and league has a distinctly different feeling than what I am used to. I am not exactly sure I love it, but it will keep my skills sharp until Team Bad Guy's next season. My biggest problems with the team consist of a roster of 17 players when only ten can really play and that I have to play out of position since the league is co-ed and the females end up getting placed in my position (I do not know what that says about me?) in an attempt to "hide" them. As a result, I am going to try and not take this whole thing too seriously.

On a positive note, we won our first game by one run. I have no idea what the score was, but I do know that we were trailing the entire game until the final inning. Maybe this team will be good enough to make the playoffs, but who knows since I am clueless as to the level of competition in the league. I did go 1 for 2 at the plate with a run scored, which was pleasant surprise since I ended my last season on such a bad note.

I had a great deal of trouble at the plate the last seven games of the Team Bad Guy season. My problems ranged from slapping at the ball to slouching too much to being way out in front of pitches. This has lead me to change my swing...entirely. If I were to ever play baseball again, I am not sure I would use this swing, but I think it is appropriate for my situation.

My new swing is modeled after the one baseball's best hitters in recent years: Moises Alou. The goals of the swing are to get full arm extension to help with power, keep the swing short and fast to adjust for different pitches and locations, and keep my body weight back to help with balance and timing. Unlike Alou, I am not keeping my bottom hand over the knob of the bat because my hands are too small and the grip feels just plain uncomfortable. The parts I am attempting to follow are the slightly inverted toes and knees and the high hands held way back from the body. The lower body changes will supply the excellent balance that I was lacking while the upper body changes allow my hands to be in more of a "ready position" for the swing which is needed for a quick even swing. The actually swing is quick and compact, which is aided by a short step toward the pitcher with the lead foot and a good strong midsection/trunk rotation. If you want to see Alou do it, check out any old Cubs game and he will show you how it is done.

All these changes put together should help me make better and more solid contact and improve my power numbers. If not, it will be back to the drawing board.


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