Are the new, hotter bats killing the short game?

I don’t know about you, but it sure seems to me like the short game — traditionally one of the key strategies as well as one of the things that separates fastpitch softball from baseball — is going the way of wood bats. Certainly the most recent Women’s College World Series is evidence of that. Those games used to be 2-1 or even 1-0 10-inning affairs, not 15-9 blowouts. But you can even see it at the local level on ballfields all over country.

While more hitting instruction and moving the pitching rubber back have certainly contributed to more of a focus on power, I think there’s more to it than that. I can’t help but wonder if the newest, hottest bats don’t have something to do with it too. Not just the fact that a 5’2″, 95 lb. girl with a weak swing can drive a ball to a 200′ fence these days. But that the bats themselves are making it more difficult to be successful bunting. Softball bunting

Consider how much the ball jumps off the bat on a regular swing. If you hit the sweet spot it flies. Now consider that many girls without good training also try to bunt the ball off the sweet spot (instead of the end of the bat as they should). What do you think happens when a hard pitch hits the sweet spot on a bunt? It goes too far, making the ball easier to field and the short game less successful.

You still can bunt with these new, hotter bats. But it takes more work. You have to pull back and “catch” the ball with the bat (instead of pushing out at it). And you have to use the end of the bat, which is a deader part of the bat and thus won’t hit the ball as far.

This is not a new technique. It’s been a standard part of bunting for at least as long as I’ve been coaching, and I’m sure for many years before that. But with the new bat technology it has become a lot more critical.

A good short game is still important to long-term success. Make the adjustment and you’ll have some great weapons at your disposal.

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About Ken Krause

Ken Krause has been coaching girls fastpitch softball for nearly 20 years. Some may know him as a contributing columnist to Softball Magazine, where he writes Krause's Korner -- a regular column sponsored by Louisville Slugger. Ken is also the Administrator of the Discuss Fastpitch Forum, the most popular fastpitch discussion forum on the Internet. He is currently a Three Star Master Coach with the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), and is certified by both the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) and American Sports Education Program (ASEP). Ken is a private instructor specializing in pitchers, hitters, and catchers. He teaches at North Shore Baseball Academy in Libertyville, IL and Pro-Player Consultants in McHenry, IL.

Posted on June 11, 2010, in Hitting, Short game. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I too have the same opinion that you have. I like the short games rather than those tiring long games. It is a true fact that many girls without good training also try to bunt the ball off the sweet spot instead of the end of the bat as they should. Through this post you have put forwarded a great fact that bunting with these new hotter bats takes more work and we have to use the end of the bat, which is a deader part of the bat and thus won’t hit the ball as far. I will definitely suggest this post to all those who play softball as I thought this post will be a helpful one for them too.

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  2. The design of bats over the last 10-15 years are taking away from the game in my opinion. Advancements are raising effectiveness and prices of bats to the point some bat are going for $400. I really think we should revert to using wooden bats so that teams have a level playing field.

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