Hitting Tips From Team USA's Amanda Chidester
Amanda Chidester is undoubtedly one of the best hitters in the world. In addition to being named to the 2020 U.S. Olympic softball team earlier this month, Chidester was named the MVP of the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) back in August.
This past summer, Chidester batted .374 with 49 hits, 35 RBIs and 15 home runs to go along with a slugging percentage of .814 for the NPF's Chicago Bandits, the professional softball league's regular-season champions. Chidester also narrowly missed out on winning the NPF's Triple Crown honor for the 2019 regular season.
We were fortunate enough to sit down with the slugger to talk all things hitting. Here's what Chidester had to say.
SA: What are some of the most important aspects of a hitter's mental approach at the plate?
AC: As a hitter, you have to be in tune with your body. You have to know what your body needs to do in order to be a consistent hitter. If you have the right approach and the right mentality, the swing can have error in it and you can still be successful. It honestly varies for every personality. Understanding yourself as a hitter and how you operate really can create the right mentality.
SA: What are some of the most important aspects of a hitter's physical approach at the plate?
AC: I think you have to have key words for yourself. Everyone’s key words are different. Something that helped me a lot was writing down all the key words that helped me get through the NPF season. What was I feeling in my stance? What was I feeling with my hands and getting the barrel to the ball? What was I feeling in my load? What was I looking at when I was getting prepared? What was my visual piece? How did I pick up the ball? When I say those things, I can immediately feel it in my body.
SA: What do you focus on when you hit?
AC: I like seeing the back of the ball. To do that, I open up my vision and focus on the back of the ball. For my body, it's important to feel grounded, balanced and centered, and as the pitch is coming in, to feel my load. I also pay attention to letting my hands be a little more free because sometimes I want to just crush the ball, so I tense up. I also focus on always getting the barrel to the ball. Those things really help me.
SA: What do you focus on when you are struggling at the plate?
AC: I tell myself to keep it simple because it’s just about seeing the ball. Once you understand the feeling of your body, you just need to see it. That’s it. See it and get the barrel there. If you’re not seeing the ball, you’re not going to touch it.
SA: What else do you think contributes to positive results at the plate?
AC: Each swing you take should build off of the last one. It’s also about understanding what the pitcher is throwing to be able to adjust pitch to pitch. Just because you can hit a pitch, doesn’t mean you should. The more you know about a pitcher, it’s definitely a lot more beneficial for you.