The key to successful sacrifice bunting is placing the bat in a position that creates the least amount of bat movement, in order to bunt pitches that are strikes.
With that in mind, it is easier to understand correct bunting technique by recognizing the most common bunting mistakes.
Mistake standing tall without much flex in the knees, forcing batters to have to have a long way down to cover balls at the knees
Mistake setting the bat angle incorrectly makes it difficult to get bunts down
Mistake not getting the bat out front of home, usually caused by not squaring the shoulders to the pitcher, leads to jabbing at the ball and many foul balls.
Mistake getting the bat out front but out front so much that very little of the plate is covered
Mistake getting the bat out front too late
Mistake chasing bad pitches especially those above the bat head
Mistake dropping the bat barrel to bunt low pitches
The other common bunting mistakes involve the incorrect grip of the bat - sliding the top hand to an incorrect position or gripping the bat too loosely or too tightly leads to little bat control or to placing the fingers in danger of being hit by the pitched ball
It bears repeating, any bat placement that forces batters to move the bat a good distance, leads to most incorrect bunting attempts.
Sacrifice bunting begins with setting the bat out front of home plate, by the time the pitcher's arm rises on its back swing. There are two acceptable techniques to do this the two foot square around technique and the pivot method. With either method, the bat should end up in the same, out-front-of- home-plate position. Another common mistake not mentioned above is doing a combination of both methods, when bunters move their rear foot forward but not even to their front foot, placing them in danger of being hit by inside pitches, along with failure to adequately set the bat out front of them.
Batters should have a good flex in their knees creating a smaller strike zone. Batters slide the top hand up to the narrow portion of the top of the handle, no higher and no lower. The bat barrel is set about two inches above the bat handle and covering the entire plate, which is done by having their head over the foot closest to home on the square around technique and closest to the pitcher with the pivot method. The bat is set at the top of the strike zone, the letters, with the intention of never having to raise the bat to bunt, except on a suicide squeeze bunt.
When batters know which direction they would like to bunt the ball, that bat angle is set early for this desired direction. With any pitched strike, batters level the bat to the top back of the ball with a slight backward give of the hands at contact, creating the desired feeling of catching the ball on the bat and with the resulting soft bunt in fair territory.
Sacrifice bunting is a much over looked skill in modern day baseball. Coaches, who can get across the importance of the bunting game, have a leg up on the competition. The ability to put runners into scoring position as well as score runners from third base with the bunting game is a valuable, winning asset.
Finally, bunting needs only a small area to practice with any types of balls, leaving no excuses for not practicing the art of bunting.
After playing major league baseball, Jack Perconte has taught baseball and softball since 1988 and offered valuable coaching training too. He has helped numerous youth players reach their potential, as well as having helped parents and coaches navigate their way through the challenging world of youth sports. Jack is one of the leading authorities in the areas of youth baseball training and coaching training advice.All Jack Perconte articles are used with copyright permission.
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