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.