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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- Great drills covering all skills check out our eDrills.
- Help with how to create great practices of your own check out The Ultimate Softball Practice Guide.
- Pre-made clip board ready practice plans along with drills check out our ePractices.