Versatile Slapping at the Collegiate Level: Part 2

Written By: Leah Murray

Four Slapping Drills to Improve your Technique:

Last week, in part one of my slapping series, I highlighted four different slaps and how they can create versatility in your game. As a slapper, it's on you to create havoc for opposing defenses. If you're already learning how to drag bunt, soft slap, hard slap and power slap, these next four drills will help you refine your skills.

Drag Bunting: Taped Bat Drill

  • Wrap a piece of white athletic or box tape around the end of an old bat, approximately 3 inches from the end of the bat towards the center.
  • Use the tape as a visual of where the ball should make contact with the bat when squaring around to bunt.
  • To make the drill more challenging, try setting up cones about 3-5 ft. from home plate and keep the ball within the marked range.

Key Takeaways:

  • You should focus on making contact at the end of the bat because it is the least reactive zone. As a result, the ball will slow down quicker.
  • As slappers, it is important to make sure the ball doesn’t roll too quickly to a defender. 
  • By doing this drill, you will have a target on your bat to train your eyes and hands to focus on the specific spot utilized to deaden the ball near home plate.

Hard Slap: Contact Point to Extension

  • Alternate hitting the ball and stopping at the contact point and extension. The contact point is at the exact moment the ball hits the bat.
  • You shouldn’t slow down your swing in order to achieve this position.
  • Following the contact point repetition, hit the next ball and finish your swing through extension.
  • When swinging to extension, you should stop with the end of the bat pointed at the pitcher.
Contact Point
Contact Point - Slapping
Extension
Slapping - Extension

Key Takeaways:

  • Switching between these two positions will teach you the hand path needed to punch the ball through the infield.
  • Work on hitting specific holes on the field (5/6 hole, up the middle, etc.) to better your chances of reaching base. 

Power Slap: Heavy Balls to the Back of the Cage

  • This drill can be completed with weighted balls purchased specifically for hitting or any basketballs, soccer balls, or volleyballs that you may have around the house.
  • You can complete this drill off of a tee or off of front toss.
  • Use a front toss screen or an object of similar height to serve as a target for the slapper to aim for, and place the screen at the back of the cage.
  • Focus on hitting the ball at the height of your target by extending your hands through the ball to power it above the infield.  

Key Takeaways:

  • The weighted balls train the slapper’s hands to stay through the ball at contact.
  • If the ball is elevated too high above the target, then you have exceeded the flight at which the ball should travel, which may result in a pop-up. 
  • This drill will help you build core, leg, forearm, and shoulder strength, which are essential to becoming a powerful slapper.
  • You will also learn the muscle memory it takes to elevate the ball to the desired height for a power slap.

Chop Slap: "Chuck it" Drill

  • Use a “ChuckIt” dog toy and tennis balls instead of your normal equipment for this drill.
  • Hold the dog fetcher like you would a bat and use it to bounce the tennis ball on a plastic dot or a piece of tape.
  • You should bounce the ball out in front of home plate during your crossover step.
  • The closer you can make the ball bounce to home plate, the longer it will hang in the air.

Key Takeaways:

  • When chop slapping, make sure your top hand (left hand) is strong while punching the ball into the ground.
  • This motion helps create topspin without completely changing the angle of your bat.
  • When using the dog fetcher you will have to use your wrists to “snap” the ball to release it from its original position; as a result, you will develop bat control and ball placement.

Putting practice into play

These are just a couple of my favorite drills for developing different slapping techniques. Don’t be afraid to play around with each different type of slap while you are learning, and get creative with what tools you can find to help you. Figure out which slap or slaps work best for you and run with it. When practicing, challenge yourself to improve your weaknesses while also striving to maintain your strengths.

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