Recently, I had someone send me a message asking for some slapping advice. I must admit, I was not a slapper and never learned how to do it in a game setting. However…
- my daughter was a slapper (converted to left and eventually to slap and hit)
- I’ve spoken with some a number of knowledgable coaches on the topic (including Larry Ray via e-mail)
- I’ve been alongside a number of players as they learned to slap (helped them through drills, listened to instruction, etc).
From these experiences, and from my own observations, here are 5 things that can help you improve your slapping effectiveness…
Work on your running speed. This means actually SPRINTING every single chance you get in practice. Do NOT just “go through the motions” during baserunning drills or any other sprinting drills. If your team practices don’t give you much opportunity to work on speed, do it on your own time. Heck, even if you do work on it in practice, feel free to take it up a notch on your own time as well. After all, speed helps in all aspects of the game, not just slapping. You can never have too much speed!
Learn how to control the bat head so you can ball place the ball where you want on the field as well as also control the type of hit you put into play (line drive, sharp grounder, high bouncer, slow roller, texas leaguer, etc). The best slapper I played with could take an inside pitch and slap it to the left side OR place it between 2nd baseman and 2nd base. If you’ve ever played 2b and tried to make that play, you know there’s practically no way you’re getting that out against a slapper with speed.
Improve your footwork. Footwork is critical in just about any athletic move. It’s even more important in slapping because, not only are you trying to hit a round softball with your round bat, but you are doing so while in motion. In my email conversation with Larry Ray, he mentioned that the crossover foot should land near/on the front line of the batter’s box at or, right around, time of contact. I’ve heard Caitlin Lowe instruct players to direct their feet toward the SS (front inner corner of the batter’s box). I’ve also seen India Chiles demonstrate some of this, as well as some other wonderful slapping tips on YouTube videos. Press play on the video playlist below to watch these videos now.
Get familiar with proper contact point. One of the most common mistakes I see beginning slappers make is making contact with the ball too far out in front of them. Using a tee or working soft toss can help with this as long as the tee/toss is placed properly.
The simplest slapping tip? Put the ball in play on the ground. Make things happen. Some people think you can’t slap with runners on or runners in scoring position. Not true. I’ve seen players slap with bases loaded. Everyone is tight. There’s a force all the way around. They bounce the ball off the ground SO high that by the time it comes down everyone is safe for an RBI on an infield slap single. No matter what the defense throws at you, you must believe you can find a way to outplay them!
Got more to add? Please feel free to leave your favorite slapping tip in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!
Stacie Mahoe shares lessons learned from decades around the diamond. Enjoy her unique insights on softball and life from years as a player, coach, parent, and fan of the game.