My daughter decided she wanted to try her hand at softball this year. I encouraged her to sign up on a local team and this is when the fun started! My daughter went to her first practice; I was an anxious onlooker because I only played one year of baseball when I was her age before I transitioned to Lacrosse. I know my role is to be a support person for her as well as a coach off the field. I remember the first time she swung her bat at a ball. She swung the bat, what seemed to be, 100 miles per hour and then as she focused on the ball she virtually stopped her bat halfway through the swing. She was able to make contact with the ball, and it dribbled past the coach and barely made it to second base. I was elated she was able to make contact with the ball, but I know how strong she is. I am not sure why, but at 10 years of age her favorite activity when I get home from work is to try to tackle and wrestle with me. Not sure why her uncle (my brother) taught her this was the thing her daddy enjoys the most, but nonetheless she is very strong for her age.
The coach approached me after the second practice and asked if I would work with her. I told him I did not know too much about the game. He told me one thing: have her FOLLOW THROUGH with the bat while hitting, then she will be able to crush the ball. Being caught up in the spirit of improvement, I discounted many viable options such as going to the school’s ball field, the Church’s ball field, and somehow we ended up in the driveway next to the garage. After all, she was not hitting the ball that hard, right?!
I pitched her a couple of balls. I soon realized throwing a softball underhand with the right height, speed, and distance away from the hitter was a bit more challenging then what I thought. Soon, I was able to put a couple over the plate, and my daughter hit one. It was just like she was at her first practice, and again the ball trickled up the middle. I showed her she needed to swing through her hips while not let up on her swing and FOLLOW THROUGH. The very next pitch I realized she got the hang of it. A ball went past my face going 60 miles per hour. By any standard it was a home run, well it looked like it when the ball rolled up hill next to the neighbors porch! I told her great job even though I was concerned by the giggles her and her sister let out by missing my face by a very narrow margin. I then thought to myself this is a bad idea, and that we needed to turn around and hit toward s the woods, so we did. I pitched another one to my daughter, and the bat made that magical sound. Then I heard a loud crash, and acrylic type glass fell down around me. I have never seen anything like it, she had just shattered the back of the family basketball hoop by putting a softball right through it! Boy, did she ever FOLLOW THROUGH!
FOLLOWING THROUGH is defined by Merriam Webster in two ways #1: “to continue a stroke or motion to the end of its arc or #2: to press on in an activity or process especially to a conclusion.” Clearly my first story is about the first definition and shooting Steel Challenge and NSSF is the second definition. Too many times, both novice and experienced shooters alike fail to follow through when shooting. If you are shooting a stage with 5 targets, in my case plates, you don’t give up on any target. You FOLLOW THROUGH each and every shot and the most important is the last shot on the last target. I can’t tell you how many great strings of fire I have seen ruined because someone did not FOLLOW THROUGH on the last shot and gave up on it. The shooter missed the target and did not make sure they hit the last target or plate. This is evident when you see a missed last target, the gun is lowered, and suddenly the gun is jerked back on target and engaged until it is hit. Even though you have ‘called a shot’ as a hit and you think you have hit the last target, your gun and sights need to stay on the target to make sure you hit it. The validation of a “hit” is best done by your vision and secondly by hearing the plate ring. As with my daughter, it is important you finish the swing as well as your string of fire with confidence!
Until next time, see you out on the range soon!