Are you familiar with slap hitters? Most softball teams have included slap hitters in their line-up as these players are efficient in stopping the opposing defense. Slap hitters literally slap the ball. Slap hitting requires very good speed.
To become a slap hitter, players should possesses the following qualities:
- Players that are natural left-handed hitters should not have too much pop in their swing and have very good speed.
- While those natural right-handed hitters should have good hand-eye coordination and above-average running speed.
Although there are exceptions in every rule, these basic qualities are crucial in making an effective slap hitter. He or she should acquire the combination of good speed, excellent balance, bat control and hand and eye coordination. Likewise, excellent footwork is also important.
Fundamentals of Slap Hitting
Slap hitting is pure offense in fastpitch softball. It is normally used to advanced a runner on the base or to get the batter on base. The goal of slap hitter is to slap the ball to the farthest place from the base where the opponent doesn’t want it to go. There are two types of slap hitting:
Slow slap - to make the ball roll slowly so you can move runners. To execute soft slap, the player should run harder for the base while keeping his body in control.
Hard Slap - the goal of the hard slap is to drive the ball into the infield or make it bounce up high.
How to Perform Slap Hitting
- Make sure that you are standing in the batter’s box where you are exactly hitting. The back corner of the plate should be in line with your big toe. If you stand way back in the box and move forward for hitting, chances are the opponent knows what you are doing. Stay even with the plate.
- Place the ball on top of the tee. Look at it as if you will hit the half-top part of the ball with the 1/3 bottom of your softball bat.
- Slightly slide back your front foot, which is your right foot (this is your first step) to clear a pathway for your back foot (left foot) to come forward. Other coaches call the second step as the crossover.
- The idea of slapping is to miss hit the ball preferably, in the 5-6 hole or the infield holes. Plant your back leg (second step) pointing towards the 5-6 hole.
- Once your back foot is forward or you already have your second step or the crossover, slide the bat and move your hands up to its top leather or up the barrel, making it shorter. This should be your contact position.
- For soft slap, do this just before the pitcher releases the ball. Doing so will make the defense to move forward thus when you hit the ball, it will be difficult for them to move laterally.
- Making the bat shorter will sustain bat control. Make sure that your hands are always at the top of the strike zone.
- For a hard slap, pace the movement coming out of the box to maximize your swing strength.
- Hit the ball when you are in the crossover position. Your hands will come down in a V-position and make contact to the ball. Slap by working on the top part of the ball and come straight through. Look at miss hitting the ball to the 5-6 hole which will add pressure to the defense.
- If you aim for a hard slap, you have two options: - You can roll your hands over the ball to make it bounce high - Or drive through the ball to create a hard ground ball or it will hit a line drive.
- The placement of the hip is also important. The hitter’s belly button and hips should be opening towards the pitcher. This will be the position for a slapper to sprint down the line.
Source video from allamericanathletes Youtube channel.
Slap hitters are considered the most disciplined among the hitters in a team. They can force defenses to keep moving and line up in different positions. They are usually the leadoff hitter and the one who can go on and steal a base and this is how they put pressure on the defense. Nonetheless, the slap hit is a race after the hitter comes in contact with softball. A successful slap hit will increase your team’s odds of success so you better practice slap hitting now.