The lost art of bunting
Like many of you out there we recently completed tryout season. We judged players on a wide variety of skills both offensive and defensive. One thing that struck me as I watched player after player was how it seems like the art of bunting has been lost.
The biggest flaw was a tendency for hitters to swat at the ball instead of receive it. To lay down a good, soft bunt you need to catch the ball with the bat — pull back on it slightly as the ball makes contact, like a soccer player trapping a pass. Instead, what I saw a lot of was players punching the bat toward the ball as it came in.
I’m not sure why that’s happening. Maybe coaches aren’t spending as much time on bunting as they used to. In this era of hotter bats perhaps it’s being abandoned. Or maybe the coaches themselves just don’t know how to teach it. In any case, it’s nearly impossible to lay down a soft bunt when you’re punching at the ball.
A good way to teach “catching” the ball is to tape an old glove onto the end of a short, light bat and have players actually try to catch the ball as it’s pitched. They’ll figure out very quickly that they have to softly receive it if they have any hope of keeping it in the glove. You can also use a lacrosse stick, although you may have to use baseballs to get them to fit into the basket.
Bunts that are hit too hard become easy outs. A bunt that only travels about 10 feet from the plate gives the bunter a much better chance of making it on base because the fielders have to run further to reach the ball. The only way to make that happen is to use a soft bunting technique.