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6 Steps to Better Bunting

By: Cindy Bristow

You're facing a tough pitcher and finally get a runner on 1st, only to have your batter unable to bunt the runner over to 2nd and you end up losing 1-0. Sound familiar? If so these Critical Bunting Keys will help!


Fastpitch Softball Bunting - 6 steps to improve this key hitting skill
Bunting isn’t glamorous or exciting but doing it successfully can be the difference between winning or losing a close game. Like freethrows in basketball, bunting seems almost too simple and even boring to practice so it can become a lazy skill.

Fortunately for all of us there are some things we can do to help our bunters really concentrate on the simple details involved in a successful bunt – we’re talking Sacrifice Bunt. Before we look at some ways to add competition to bunting let’s first review the basics for a successful bunt:

    Fastpitch Softball Bunting Tips - Start at the Chin

  1. Start at the Chin – To avoid popping up the bunt have your bunters start their bats at the top of their strike zone – which is just about at their chin. Too many hitters start their bats around their waist so they have to move up and down for pitches and when they move up it’s much easier to bunt the bottom of the ball – which is what causes a pop up. You can see in picture 1 how the bat is up by this bunter’s chin which puts it at the top of the strike zone.
  2. Fastpitch Softball Bunting Tips - Start out Give in

  3. Start Out, Give In – This means that the bunter should start her hands OUT away from her body, as in picture 2, and then Give IN as the ball hits the bat in order to soften the contact and keep the bunt from being too hard and going right back to the pitcher.
  4. Move Down with the Knees – The bunter in picture 2 also shows you how a bunter should bend her knees in order to bunt a low pitch as opposed to reaching down with her arms for the ball. Your bunters should always try to keep the bat near their eyes and then move their knees down to the ball instead of moving their bat and keeping their body still in order to avoid popping the ball up or missing it completely.
  5. Stay Wide and Solid – Bunting involves absorbing the impact of the ball and in Fastpitch, that can be a lot of impact. So a bunter needs to keep her feet wide enough to keep her balance and stay solid no matter where the pitch is as a loss of balance is a great way to mess up a bunt.
  6. On the Ground & Fair – a bunter’s goal, at first, is simply to get the ball on the ground and in fair territory. Don’t get too fancy with beginning bunters on what side of the field they bunt to, just get them to bunt it on the ground and fair. As they get better then you can get more detailed and have them bunt to different locations on the infield based on the defensive coverage.
  7. Practice Under Pressure – Bunting in a game is all about pressure so practicing it in a relaxed and goof-around atmosphere in practice won’t go far in helping your players bunt better in the clutch! Adding pressure in bunting practice can pay huge dividends when it comes to creating great game bunters!

Here are 3 of my favotire Bunting Drills that will help your bunters practice and improve their technique:

For adding more pressure or competition to your bunting practice try these drills:

  • Bunts for Swings – most of us practice bunting by having our hitters bunt the first 5 pitches before they take batting practice. Well it’s a good idea but nothing about it forces the hitter to make those 5 bunts good. So let’s change that with this slight adjustment. Have your hitters bunt the first 5 pitches and for every bunt that is on the ground and fair, they get 3 swings. So for 5 good bunts the hitter could get 15 swings, or as few as 0 swings for 0 good bunts! Love this drill!
  • Bunt Challenge – this drill happens at any point during practice and is something that a player starts by simply yelling out, “Bunt Challenge!”. At that point practice stops and the player that called for the challenge calls out who she is challenging. It’s then a one pitch bunt off with the entire team stopping practice to gather around the challenge and take sides. Players must choose which bunter they think will win the 1 pitch bunt-off. The 2 players then bunt their one pitch which must be on the ground, and fair and if they’re advanced players, then it needs to also be to a specific location (or closest to it wins). The winning bunter and winning team members get to choose the penalty for the losing team from a list of options (situps, pushups, planks, medi ball sprints).

For:

Filed under: All,Bunting,Hitting,Practice — Tags: , , , , , , — Cindy Bristow @ 12:10 am

6 Comments »

  1. Awesome tips! It will really help when our season starts in January.

    Comment by Amy — October 6, 2009 @ 8:57 am

  2. I love all the information that you put forth. It is very informative to all coaches at every level. It is websites like this that have such a positive effect on the entire softball community. Great job !!

    Comment by Brian Lamb — October 6, 2009 @ 5:14 pm

  3. I tell my players to always keep the large end of the bat ABOVE the handle end, and don’t jam the left arm holding the handle in out in front of the line where the large end is. If the handle end is out further than the barrel end it is almost always a foul ball, and if the barrel end is lower than the handle end it is almost always a popup. Right handed batters have a tendancy to jam their left arm straight out with their right arm bent, pretty much backwards of what is needed. Sometimes you have to put a lose rope around their waist and have them practice bunts with their left wrist under the rope to train them out of this. When they bend over to bunt a lowball rather than “elevator” down with the legs, they dip the bathead and get a foul, often popup, bunt. Unless its a squeeze, “only bunt strikes” so starting high and “elevatoring” down keeps them focused on contacting a strike. If its too low to touch with the legs moving down, it probably isn’t a strike, so don’t bend over for the low balls.

    Comment by Chris Gautschi — October 6, 2009 @ 8:19 pm

  4. As usual your tips and drills are great. I canot wait to try these especilly the bunt for swings and bunt challenge

    Comment by Carmine — October 6, 2009 @ 9:24 pm

  5. That was really helpfully, earlier this season I didn’t make a team because my bunting is AWFUL…even though I’m not a coach, I think this will come in handy.

    Comment by Abby — March 8, 2011 @ 7:52 pm

  6. I love reading your site! Great tips! I was a scholarship D1 player and now I’m a coach and instructor. I love it! One tip I give my girls is to pivot towards the contact point so their back foot is literally pointing to where they will make contact instead of rotating all the way to the pitcher (as if they are on a tight rope) which I see all the time. If they keep their lower body angled towards the plate they will have more balance and more plate coverage. The upper body continues to rotate (at rib cage) while the lower half maintains balance and strength. For verbal cues: I tell them to “make the ball go down in front of you”. Many young players guide the ball foul with their bat instead of taking control of where they want it to go. They all seem to really respond to that. Thanks again, Cindy! Oh and I met you at a coaches clinic one year! :-)

    Comment by Jen Edwards — June 24, 2013 @ 11:23 pm

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"I wanted to let you know that I bought two of the hitting pods for my daughter, in order to help her develop better drive off the pitching rubber. Turning her drive foot was not as much of an issue as the collapse of her foot so that she would drag deeply on the side of it, getting stuck back. It has been really hard to get rid of this habit. I have just started using the pod drill that you recommended, and I believe that there is already an improvement. It keeps her foot forward so she drives straight, but also has the added benefit of getting her up on her toe, so that she can tell what it should feel like. As an aside- you should know that I have tried many different "gadgets" to try to help with this problem- so much so that my daughter rolls her eyes when I bring out something new- after her first practice with the pod, the second practice she was like "mom, I want to use the pod". That is my own personal barometer of something that truly has potential to help! Anyway, I am keeping my fingers crossed- and wanted to let you know that this has really been an excellent tool (especially when combined with the instruction of driving the back knee in to the front one, that you have also recommended.) I hope that this will allow her to be more balanced and gain the speed that she is physically capable of. Thank you." - Siobhan Corbett, M.D.

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