By Josh Staph
A softball team's ability to move runners can determine its success, and a slap bunt is a great way to get 'em moving.
"We call it the short-game slap," says Bonnie Tholl, associate head coach of the 2005 National Champ Michigan softball team. "If you get behind in the count and have two strikes against you, you can use it instead of just squaring around for a sacrifice bunt."
Another great situation to use the slap is when the first and third basemen inch up in anticipation of a bunt. "Regardless of the count," Tholl says, "slap the ball by them harder so it gets past their gloves quicker."
Here's how Tholl lays out the perfect slap.
Make sure you don't overswing. Present the slap the same way you would a sacrifice bunt. As the pitch is released, draw your bat back to about 75 percent of your regular stance, then begin your swing from there. The goal is to put the ball on the ground and get runners into scoring position, not hit a line drive.
Keep your hands back in the slothigh and near the shoulder area. If your hands move down or forward from there, you'll have difficulty hitting an inside pitch or producing enough power.
Choke up on the bat for more control. Most players choose to keep their hands together, but some separate them about one and a half inches for more barrel control.
If you're a right-handed hitter, the footwork is the same as a sacrifice bunt. If you're a lefty, present it the same way as a sacrifice bunt, but then step back with your right foot and point your left toes toward the pitcher so your hips point that way. Step through with the left foot; then continue to run through the batter's box as you execute the slap.
For right- and left-handed hitters, remain completely closed to the plate from the hips up so you produce enough power to slap it through the hole.
Read the defense to determine what kind of slap you should use. If you see the infield sitting way back, use a touch slap to drop the ball down short and try to beat the throw to first. If the outfield is deep and the infield is right up in your face, use a power slap to drive the ball through the hole between shortstop and third.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock