Can Baseball, Fastpitch, and Slow Pitch be Very Similar?

by Robert Canary
(Hartford, KY)

Baseball Swing v. Fastpitch Softball Swing

Baseball Swing v. Fastpitch Softball Swing

Okay I am going to open a can of worms here that has been an on going debate for sometime.


As an active participant in both baseball and fastpitch (girls softball), I see an extraordinary resemblance between the two sports. Slow Pitch, ahhh NO. Slow pitch requires the batter to move forward on the front foot, and definitely a different swing, even the slot position is completely out of tune with a baseball swing.

With that said I want to talk about swinging at a Fastpitch versus swing at a Baseball.

For many years Slow Pitch was very dominant in women's sports. I feel as a result, as the sport shifted to fastpitch, the whole softball community has taken old baggage with them to the batters box. In an effort to glorify the Fastpitch sport they try desperately to negate the similarities of batting mechanics. Which, for the life of me, I don't no why.

I have a 10 year old son who can flat out drill a 12" ball in Fastpitch. Yes, it takes him about 10 pitches to get him in the grove. But once he is there, he absolutely creams the ball, consistently. He filled in for a scrimmage game and the 16U girls on the other team were laughing. Wow, did he shut their mouths. He simply is targeting a lower outside pitch, the same pitch that kills most baseball batters at the plate.

Although he is killing the ball, and he is using "Baseball Hitting Mechanics", I still could not get the parents and coaches to admit they are teaching the wrong mechanics for batting. The die hard coaches even into college levels, still insist on developing 50/50 weight distribution, and minimal rotation. Yes, the girls hit hard. Looking at the TeamUSA Faspitch these women were swinging the same mechanics as the MLB players. The one woman was hitting 300' balls, and had full rotation on the lower half and a direct follow through in the impact zone. THAT'S THE SAME SWING MY 10YO IS DOING.

So tell me, do you see any need to change the swing mechanics while hitting a 12" fastpitch verses a low and outside baseball?



Swing Smarter Response:
You know Robert, you bring up a good point. Myself not spending much time in fastpitch softball (only in hardball and slow pitch softball, which I agree about the difference in swing there), I heard the fastpitch softball and baseball swings were different because the ball is rising in softball as opposed to the ball coming from a slight downward plane as in baseball.

I always described baseball and fastpitch softball as as similar to humans and chimps. There's only a 2% difference in our DNA coding, but that difference is HUGE. Now, I may be wrong here, but like I said, I don't have a lot of experience in fastpitch.

I do however, agree with you about the USATeam Softball young ladies swinging like Big Leaguers, so your argument might have some merit there.

On the other hand, I would've agreed with you about 50/50 weight distribution except just the other day I had a talk over Facebook with an ex-teammate of mine at Fresno State, Anthony Acevedo. He played in the Astros organization for some time and shifted my perspective on weight distribution.

You see, our bodies naturally want to be balanced, and when we load up on the backside say 70/30, then as we stride our body comes back to 50/50 and we allow our eyes to shift forward, which is bad in respect to building above average plate discipline. So, loading our weight onto the back leg like that is a waste of movement.

Unlike slowpitch softball as you mentioned, we get our power from hip and core rotation, and NOT our forward movement to the ball.

That being said,

I believe 50/50 is the way to go, however full range of motion hip rotation is a must, and those fastpitch softball gals are missing out on a lot of power by not rotating at the hips and core. I know they're just trying to be quicker to the ball because they only have a 45 foot distance to make a swing decision, but it's at the expense of power. Just get the stride foot down earlier is what I'd say.

Glad to hear your thoughts Robert, hope your son can keep showing those gals how a real stick and ball athlete can swing it! :P lol

Comments for Can Baseball, Fastpitch, and Slow Pitch be Very Similar?

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Oct 11, 2013
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VERY Similar...VERY different
by: AnonymousBrian

Hey folks...this is indeed an interesting forum and discussion. But allow me to add my 2 cents.

I played baseball through college and then coached boys baseball for 7 years. Then, when my oldest daughter was 11...discovered fastpitch.

I made the same identical errors in instructing, as my only model was baseball. Secondly...I too got caught up in the age old, Rotational vs Linear argument. Bolox I now say.

I have been coaching Junior Olympic Fastpitch for 15 years and with high school for the last 9. Here is the one MAIN difference. Fastpitch balls go from low to high. Baseballs go from high to low.

This is why Jason Giambi wanted NOTHING to do with Jenny Finch at the MLB softball game fund raiser. He KNEW! Gents who play baseball CANNOT adjust to a rise ball. But because the girls CAN throw a drop and see it...they can hit baseballs.

Many of the mechanics and fundamentals are the same. But the trained fastpitch muscle memory can work the rise, drop, curve etc. The trained baseball muscle memory canNOT adapt to the rise or a ball coming from low to high.

Combine that with the huge time difference (60MPH from 43' as opposed to 80MPH at 60'6")and the girls MUST be trained a bit differently than the guys. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_de3HJvO-N8 and you will see what I mean.

Coach'em up guys!

Oct 29, 2010
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Way to put the Swing in a nutshell Chris!
by: SwingSmarter.com

Chris, awesome job explaining the swing brother, and fantastic content. You've obviously played enough to build a great foundation in hitting know-how while sharpening the sword teaching it as well. I agree about reaction time and having to have absolutely NO wasted movement in fast pitch mechanics.

I'm going to post an interview in the coming weeks on getting in depth with weight shifting and distribution throughout the swing, so stay tuned.

Again, great info Chris!

Oct 29, 2010
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Baseball, Fastpitch, Weight shift, load
by: Chris from Mahopac

There is alot of stuff being discussed here. First, an effective baseball swing and effective fastpitch softball swing contain the same absolutes of hitting.

Like you noted, the Olympians exhibit the exact same mechanics as the major leaguer when viewed in slow motion. They all hit from the ground up, using a combo of rotational and linear mechanics, land with a soft, closed front toe, drive the back hip, are short to it and long through it, with a down and through swing path and hit with flat hands into a firming front side. (See Crystal Bustos for a short efficient, powerful, no frills swing). Looks like Bob Horner's swing.

As a matter of fact, as a former baseball guy, now coaching high school softball, I believe there is less room for error in the fastpitch softball swing because of the difference in reaction time. The softball swing has to be short and any negative motion away from the ball(weight shift, load)has to be minimal.

From 43 feet even the great hitters are guessing half the time. Against a good fastball/changeup pitcher any timing or mechanical issues are revealed from that distance. I also feel that because of the difference in upper body strength between males and females, lower body and core hitting mechanics should be taught more readily in fastpitch softball hitting.

Load and Weight shift are always a hitting topic for discussion. I believe that a 70/30 or 60/40 weight shift is fine as long as the weight is not leaked over the back foot, the head stays steady and the hands strart down to the ball. It has to be retained inside the back foot and knee. If not you get a lot of over-rotating and uppercutting.

I see the load as more of a trigger than as a function of the swing in a lot of swings. Hitters start 50/50, load 70/30, stride and then, essentially, reload with their hands as the stride foot lands.

Your friend describes it as a natural moving part of the swing and not a conscious preswing move, which I believe all great hitters possess. Aaron, Griffey, Mays and Bonds all got their load when their hands came back on front toe touch. They never consciuosly loaded, just retained that back side and drove it into a stiffening front side for leverage, consistency and power.

Sorry, I was a little long winded. I love talking hitting. just my opinion though. Thanks Joey!

Oct 19, 2010
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Well put
by: SwingSmarter.com

You got it Robert! Now the challenge is to keep that center of axis balanced with the weight shift or with a non-existent one. Will respond to your other post shortly. Thanks again for the great content.

Oct 19, 2010
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Load: Yes Shift:No
by: Robert Canary

Ahhhhh, I can see your point.

I don't like shift or any movement forward. My attempt is to keep the hips, shoulders, and head slightly behind the axis of rotation.

Until this point, My thought process in this thread was applying the 70/30 to the *load* at the point when the step is taken with the front foot, but I see your talking about the process of shifting everything forward, as to gain momentum.

What your saying makes great sense. Thanks for the clarification, great advice !!!

The problem I usually have, both Fastpitch and Baseball, is trying to get the students to take that little step, *without* moving their body (or head) forward, or shifting.

I posted another question about stopping the shift.

Oct 19, 2010
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The Ambiguous Word "Load"
by: SwingSmarter.com

I actually like to separate "loading" from "weight shifting" Robert. You can load without weight shifting...turning the hips inward, also known as loading into the back hip, or showing the pitcher your front hip pocket.

The question is how much of a weight shift is safe. And by safe I mean where the eyes don't travel forward and/or drop. I think every hitting pundit can agree the eyes need to stay in place from the load to follow through of the swing.

I think a 70/30 weight shift is too much because that's what I taught (past tense) and under video analysis most of my kids' eyes traveled a bit (even my own). However a slight 60/40 might be okay, but I have to do more testing on that.

I can also say (from recent experience) we can create quite a bit of power in the balanced 50/50 approach. For those stuck on weight shifting, it will be a hard habit to break, but it would entail, turning into the back hip, like Hank Aaron did, getting into our launch position where we get separation between the lead stride foot and the hands like the cocking of a gun hammer.

Now, the time to start our load, as a general rule, we should show the pitcher our lead hip back pocket when he shows us his. But every hitter may be slightly different.

Oct 18, 2010
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To Load or not to Load (Or When)
by: Robert Canary

Knowing that every good swing incorporates some sort of loading, and loading is shifting weight to the back foot, ether its 60/40, 70/30, etc. The loading could be an issue, and I will admit it usually is the culprit to many bad swings, and timing issues.

I guess the real question would be, at what point do we tell our batters to load? It seems how much will vary between batters.

Oct 16, 2010
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70/30 Weight Shift May Be Outdated
by: SwingSmarter.com

I'm right there with you, for most of the years I've taught hitting and played the game, I've subscribed to the 70/30 weight shift, however talking with an ex-teammate of mine recently, who has done extensive research himself and played in the Houston Astros organization (this guy was a legit hitter, he got burned out of baseball towards the end like so many do), put it to me this way...

The body is always trying to be on balance (50/50), so loading up on the backside before the pitch, we then have to shift our weight forward, which causes the eyes to drift and could lead to lunging or traveling.

My ex-teammate, Anthony Acevedo, says the weight shift is wasted motion because your body will attempt to get back to a 50/50 balance anyway.

I'm experimenting with a slight weight shift (60/40) to see how bad the eyes travel on film. The pluses (of 50/50) would be better plate discipline and more consistency with the bat. I'd give up a little power to have more quality At-Bats.

Oct 15, 2010
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Follow Up Question
by:

Are you saying we should not load 70/30? I have always taught that. My preconceived thought was, if your striding forward then you have to shift weight off that foot in order to get it to move. SO I teach them to start with a 70/30 balance.

The head moving forward has always been problem. Stressing to the pupil the importance of not moving the head, has always been a dilemma. However, it seems once they understand, then the hips seem to follow through better. Because holding the head down and not allowing it to travel forward seems to give the back hip a chance to come around (without the head following it).

So when should we tell them to load 70/30?

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