Successful softball teams usually have a left-handed slapper, or batter, in their lineup. A lefty slapper can put a great deal of pressure on the defense. She forces the infielders to quickly field the ball and throw it under the pressure of her speed. Slappers actually start running before contacting the ball, which requires anticipation, good timing, proper swing and speed. If you want to be a good left-handed slapper, learn the basic mechanics and then practice with drills to help you perfect your technique.
Lefty Slapping Basics
It's important not to tip off the defense -- take your normal stance in the batter's box. When the ball leaves the pitcher's hand, slide your right foot back 6 inches and simultaneously change to a choked-up grip and move your hands and back leg forward. Your back foot crosses over your right foot, in the direction of the pitcher, and will land near the front, inside corner of the box. Pivot your right foot slightly to help open your hips toward the pitcher.
Keep your front shoulder closed and keep the bat head above your hands. In one motion, move your hands forward, lead with the knob end of the bat, take your forward swing and try to hit the top part of the ball as your left foot lands. Follow through with your left arm extended, continue your forward momentum toward the pitcher and then turn and run toward first base.
Slap and Run Around a Cone
Some lefty slappers turn too early and run toward first base. This drill will teach you to keep your momentum going forward before turning to run. Place a cone a couple of steps in front of the batter's box in line with the pitcher's mound. Have a teammate pitch balls to you while your practice your slap hit. After hitting the ball, keep your moving forward and run around the cone before running toward first.
Slapper's Swing Drill
If you're having a hard time leading with the knob of your bat as you swing, this drill can help. Stand and face a fence. Back up until you're one bat-length away from the fence and take your normal stance. Take several practice swings concentrating on sliding your hands up to a choked-up grip and leading with the bat's knob. With the correct technique, the bat will not hit the fence. Swing several times with your eyes open and then close your eyes to help you feel and groove your swing.
Slap-Hitting Tee Drill
In addition to helping you lead with the knob, this drill helps you learn how to angle your bat and direct the ball toward a specific target. Set up two or three cones between third and second base. Set a tee-stand on the outside corner of the plate. Take your stance and position yourself so that when you end the crossover step, the tee-stand is in line with the middle of your body. Tee up a ball, swing with your crossover step and aim for one of the targets. Practice hitting line drives and bouncing balls. Move the tee-stand around to different locations -- on the outside, middle and to the inside of the plate -- during the drill.
- SoftballPerformance.com: Coaching Softball - The Importance of Slap Hitting
- Softball Excellence: The 1, 2, 3's of Successful Slapping
- SoftballPerformance.com: Softball Batting Drills – Slap and Run Around Cone
- SoftballPerformance.com: Softball Batting Drills – Fence-Swing Drill
- Softball Skills & Drills; Judi Garman and Michelle Gromacki