Learn To Drag Bunt And Power Slap
So, you’ve decided become a slap hitter -- but what exactly does that mean? Before you put in the time in training, you’ll need to be brutally honest with yourself. In order to be an effective slapper, you need to possess above-average speed with incredible hand-eye coordination. For slap hitters, they need to be able to hit a full-speed pitch while having already begun running to first base -- it isn’t an easy task.
In fact, it never truly becomes easy, even after years of practice at the highest levels. But, you can put yourself in a position to succeed by practicing a set of fundamental skills and ideals on a daily basis. CoachUp has compiled a quick go-to guide for any players looking to become a reliable slap hitter -- use them to your advantage!
When first learning the basics of slap hitting, you must understand the proper footwork required. This will not only help you consistently make contact with the ball, but also increase your chances of reaching first base -- which is, of course, the entire point of slap hitting. As the pitch approaches, take a slight step back towards the catcher with your front foot. This step is important to help you get the proper timing and rhythm for your swing.
Next, take your back foot and crossover your front foot towards the pitcher. It’s extremely important that you step towards the pitcher and not towards first base. You don’t want to start moving in the direction of first until you have made contact with the ball. Once you make contact, push into a full sprint by driving off the foot you crossed over and taking the next step down the baseline.
Aspiring slap hitters should start by modifying their grip, it’ll be easier to get your bat and feet in the right position without worrying about an extra step. For advanced athletes, try starting with a normal grip and choking up as you swing. You don’t want to give away your intentions until the last, possible moment. At the highest levels of softball, that extra fraction of a second could be the difference between an out or a base hit. Make sure to keep your hands inside the ball with your front shoulder square with the pitcher and facing downwards.
The easiest and most effective way to improve your slap hitting is through tee training. It won’t matter if you’re the fastest athlete on the planet if you keep tripping over yourself while slap hitting. Remember, before you can run, you have to hit! Practice the timing, rhythm, and swing as one symphony of cohesive moves. Doing so will keep you balanced and in control of your body movements. Once you become comfortable on the tee, then you can begin to incorporate live pitching into your practice. Start out with slow pitches and be patient with your progress before you try to tackle full speed pitches.
Once you’ve mastered the basic idea of slap hitting, you’ll be ready to add two tiny discrepancies to really elevate your game: the drag bunt and the power slap. While simply creating contact does most of your desired work, getting additional moves in your bag of tricks will only benefit you down the road. Opponents won’t be able to anticipate just a slap hit, but will have to concern themselves with three different potential threats.
Don’t fall into the trap of only working on one hitting technique during your softball training—push yourself to learn every variation. Luckily, if you have a good handle on slap hitting, these sections will become natural over time. Drag bunting and power slapping use the same technique, just with slightly modified swings.
The Drag Bunt
A good drag bunt will keep the first and third basemen honest, as they’ll have no choice but to respect the greater offensive threat at the plate. You want to ensure that your hips and belly button are facing towards the pitcher as you step in the direction of the mound. Instead of slapping, you’ll want to catch the ball on your bat to drop it down. The goal is to make your motion as similar to the slap hit as possible, continuing that motion just up until you make contact -- that way, you can deceive the infielders for much longer.
To get more comfortable with drag bunting, try incorporating drills into your softball training. For example, you can practice how to direct the ball down the respective baselines. A quick and easy drill involves just two milk crates. Place them at the midpoints between home plate and each of the corner bases. Try to hit the milk crates on every pitch, this will be the exact place where all fielders must run equidistant to reach it. Ideally, in a game, you’d most likely direct the ball towards third to put pressure on the fielder to make a quick but difficult throw, but learning both techniques makes you an unpredictable problem for defenses.
The Power Slap
In a way, the power slap is an inherent combination of the first two techniques, but jacked up with loads of power. This time, the goal is to make it seem like you’ll be bunting until the last second. Then you'll pull back, swing fully, and drive the ball. Try focusing on placing the ball just past the infielders but short of the outfielders, or into the gap towards the fence. It can be a bit riskier thanks to your movement and footwork being influenced by the fuller, more powerful swing, but if you’ve gotten your balance down correctly, it should come easily. The power slap is particularly interesting thanks to it’s endless possibilities and unpredictable nature. While the drag bunt and slap hit will almost always keep the ball in the infield, the power slap offers much more varied results. From a simple base hit to the big blast in the gif above, the power slap can be your ticket to endless prosperity.
(Related: Read about being a linear hitter here.)
Remember, you don’t technically need to learn all of these techniques to be an efficient and consistent hitter. But, if you want to be at the top of your coach’s lineup card every day, it might be a great practice to undertake. Don’t just become a jack-of-all-trades, but master of none! No, add them all to your arsenal so that the defense has no idea what’s coming.The best traits for an athlete aren’t always being the biggest or strongest; no, sometimes the greatest asset is her ability to be a versatile contributor in all facets of the game. So, you might not be the slugger that mashes homers every at-bat, but being on base when it happens is just as valuable.
Nowadays, coaches strive to have more than one slapper in their lineup so they can put constant pressure on the the opposition’s mental state. How do you prepare for a team that can purposefully hit it anywhere at any time? Long story short? You can’t. So becoming an elite slap hitter can have benefits for both you and your teammates in the long run.
If you’re still struggling with slap hitting, consider hiring one of CoachUp’s private trainers in order to set things straight. At first, it will be pretty difficult to mold your footwork and swing all into one, fluid motion, but our coaches can definitely help ease the process! What are you waiting for?