Learning to slap is an off-season project

I was talking to one of my softball hitting students the other day, and she was telling me how her high school coaches have been having her hit from the left hand side. Now, understand that in theory it’s a good idea. She’s very fast, and would probably benefit from being that extra couple of steps closer to first.

The problem is, no one ever said a thing to her about it during the off-season, or even hinted that she should learn it. They just sent her up to the plate and told her to hit from the other side.

That’s just insane. To get an idea of how difficult that is, try eating an entire meal with your opposite hand. Then try doing it with chopsticks. Then try doing it while someone moves the plate around while you eat.

Learning to slap from the left if you’re a right-handed hitter is an off-season project. It takes a good year for right handed hitters to really become comfortable slapping and drag bunting from the left side, and usually longer for them to be able to swing away competently. Everything is backward, and it’s awkward.

What I don’t get is no coach in his/her right mind would ever consider sending a player out to play a field position opposite-handed without training. That would be insane. The player might be able to catch the ball, but certainly wouldn’t be able to throw it very well. And hitting is a much tougher skill to learn than throwing.

I’ve said before that my philosophy on slapping is to “burn the ships.” If you’re going to become a slapper there can’t be any of that two strikes and turn around stuff. You’re either in or you’re out. But with no training, and with no time to develop, your chances for success are very low. Extremely low. Practically non-existent, even if you’re a great natural athlete.

If you’re thinking about turning a righty around, don’t do it now. Wait for the off-season and give her time to develop properly. Otherwise, all you’re really going to accomplish is making a player frustrated and unhappy.

Oh by the way — usually you turn around a righty who isn’t a particularly good hitter, because you’re not losing much and have a lot to gain. In this case, this girl is a very good right handed hitter. Even went yard in a high school game. So to take the bat out of her hands right now makes even less sense.

Yes, I’ve turned hitters around successfully before, and yes, I’ve worked with this girl on it a little. I stand by my original statement – it’s a project for the next off-season.


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 May 9, 2013, in Short game. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I disagree Change for the better is now. If they can learn to slap off season the can learn to slap durring the season. They can do it or they can’t.


  2. I think almost every FP player should bat wrong handed and stand in front of the plate. On base% has more value than batting average in FP at the top level, against elite pitchers. Unearned runs are more common than earned runs, because of balls in play vs wasted at bats.


  3. Have you ever tried throwing opposite-handed? Or bowling opposite-handed? If you were bowling in a league, where there was pressure to perform, would you suddenly try to bowl with your opposite hand because you get better action out of the pins? Of course not. Try writing your name with your opposite hand, then imagine yourself having to do it with people watching and teammates having expectations and possibly coaches yelling at you. What about golfing? Similar skillset only the ball isn’t moving. Now imagine you’re a 14 year old girl and try to do any of that. It’s way different for a kid than an adult – a factor that many so-called coaches forget. Kids are not just short adults. Hitting is said to be the most difficult thing in sports. Why would you make it even more difficult by turning around and going opposite-handed. In today’s game, too, if all you can do is stick the bat in front of the ball and drop a bunt you’re pretty easy to defend. You have to be able to slap hard and soft and even swing away. If all you can do is drop that bunt and run, I’ll have my 3B or SS sitting right in your front porch and you’ll be an easy out every single time.


  4. Slapping is not hitting a way. It’s a half swing and looking for an outside pitch. Standing in front of the box is a good thing for seeing the ball and hitting the ball before the break. If slappers had their way they would be way out of the box. Speed is easier to slap the movement. Slapping or punchiing uses both hands not one.


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