Small Ball

Bunting is the most important part of the offense! The defense MUST respect the bunt!! Whether your a homerun hitter or not, you must be able to drop down a bunt when called upon. There are two main reasons why bunting is SO important.

1) You have to put the ball in play and make the defense work for an out. The younger you play, the harder it is for the defense to play a bunt correctly. Not enough coaches work on this. This will cause those “undisciplined” teams, to start throwing the ball all over the place. When the defense does that, I call them “snowball fights”.

2) It pulls the defense in, leaving bigger gaps  in between the outfielders and infielders, and it creates more separation from the infielders (short plays, closer to third.. second plays closer to first) leaving a huge whole up the middle…

SO, How do we drop the bunt down correctly? EASY!! Do it how ever you are comfortable AND effective!!

If picking your nose with one hand and bunting the ball with the other works, DO IT!!

If your better at holding the bat between your legs, DO IT!!

If your better while holding the bat backwards, DO IT!!

Whether you “square around” or just “pivot” your feet….GET IT DOWN!

As a coach, I dont care how you do it, as long as your successful!! Personally, I square around vs just “spinning” my feet. I do this for two reasons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Balance… A fastball low and away VS fastball, high and tight. Which player can react to both of these pitches the best? When your feet are in a line (pic on right, pivot), we will lose ALL balance, reaching outside for that pitch.
  2. Speed… Which batter gets out of the box quicker? Which way are we running? towards the mound our first base? Most people assume since we are in the position of a “sprinter” (starting block) we can get out of the box quicker. This is 100% true!! BUT, we are not running towards the mound (which is the direction, the pic on the right is facing). So you get out of the box quick, but then have to change direction to run to first. The pic on the left is already in the direction of first. We must be careful to stay inside the box though. The picture on the left, looks like he may be outside, hard to tell though.

I had three bunter’s on my summer team last year. Here are their (offensive) numbers…..

1….429 avg. 548 OB% (lefty)
2….380 avg. 483 OB%
3….244 avg. 403 OB%

ALL 3 of these players bunted about a dozen times. ALL 3 of these players reached first 90% of the time, off the bunt (speed and well placed bunts)! Now when ALL three of these players came to the plate, the defense was out of position, to defend a regular hit (when they didn’t bunt). I can recall AT LEAST a dozen hits between these 3 players, that would of played out different, if they weren’t successful at dropping down the bunt. Remember these important tips when teaching the bunt….

  1. Let the player bunt however he is comfortable, square or not. Remember, the important part of bunting, is GETTING IT DOWN.
  2. WE ONLY BUNT STRIKES!!! When you square, lay the bat horizontally across the TOP of the strike zone. Now you know anything above it is a ball, and all you have to do is squat, for the low ones.
  3. Fake bunts are a HUGE tool, when stealing bases. Its just another distraction for an “undisciplined” team and a catcher. Also, when you pull the  bat back, You should pull it back in a straight line with the catchers eyes.
  4. Bunting is a good way to break slumps. Sometimes, just making solid contact with the ball is a great hurdle for kids to jump.
  5. I have seen Joe Mauer drop em down! NO ONE is above bunting. The hitters job is to move the runner, however that may be!
  6. Drop one down when least expected. Put the defense on their heels and make them respect the bunt
  7. As important as it is to teach the bunt… We also need to teach, DEFENDING the bunt!!
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3 Responses to Small Ball

  1. Pingback: Small Ball | Evolution of baseball | Baseball

  2. shortstoponthenet says:

    I just joined a winter softball team that has lots of beginners. The coach did an odd thing in our first friendly tournament. Odd enough for me to write about it. Here’s how I described it, “We all bunted, all of us almost all of the time – every batter in every part of the order, with runners on base or not, with none out or more, in early innings or late, with a high score or not. We scored something like 30 runs over two five-innning games; the other teams, who were ‘carelessly’ swinging away, scored a mere 2 runs in comparison.”

    Funny, I would never have done this, I would have thought beginners should swing as much as possible to learn how to hit. But the downside of that is losing, striking out, and never getting the experience of running the bases and participating in the offensive game.

    I just wonder how far you can take this … obviously in my winter league, most of the teams will not have the time to improve their defense, so this strategy could potentially be a first place winning strategy, but pushed too far, when do we give the beginners a chance to swing?

    • Money says:

      As soon as the defense respects the bunt. You will see such a shift in the defense and they will always be guessing!

      Once you establish your hitters are excellent at bunting, you wont have to devote so much time at practice to it and you can strengthen their hitting skills.

      getting on base no matter how is such a confidence boost to anyone let alone the little ones, you will see there plate presence sky rocket!!

      One last thing!

      what the best bunters are able to do is know the difference between balls and strikes. When they arent bunting, they will be able to choose better pitches to swing at, increasing the quality of their hits

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