Skip to main content

Physics and Technique

The power of the swing depends on the amount of energy transferred to the bat by the batter. The greater time one spends accelerating the bat the more energy (speed) one can give the bat. The harder one pushes on the bat the more speed one can give the bat. These truths are inescapable. No action on the part of the batter in swing technique or hitting style can overcome them. Unless the directions for improving one’s hitting show how the swing can be made longer (take more time) or show how one can push the bat harder they will not make the swing more powerful.

The velocity of the bat head (the part that meets the ball) depends on how much energy is put into it but a heavy bat will be slower than a light bat for each unit of energy. The heavy bat will transfer the energy to the ball more efficiently since impact with the ball will slow a heavy bat less than a light bat. But, overall, one prefers the higher velocity to better energy transfer efficiency if most other considerations are about equal. Therefore a player should select the longest, lightest, fatest (greatest diameter) bat that they can swing easily. The thickness of the handle where the player grips the bat is also a concern since it must be thin enough for the young player to get a good finger grip with the bottom hand.

The quickness of the swing depends on how far the bat must travel to meet the ball and how hard the batter pushes on the bat. Note that pushing the bat harder improves both power and quickness.

The accuracy of the swing depends on how far the bat must travel and how far the target is from the batter’s eyes. The player’s hand-eye coordination is by far the most important factor but batting technique will not improve that. Practice at hitting and catching things in the air may help but improvement will not be quick.

The timing of the swing to control the direction the ball is hit is also very important to good hitting. Again, practice can improve this but batting technique will not help much. The length of the swing does limit how soon the swing can get into the strike zone and therefore may make it harder for the batter with a long swing to pull the ball.

Given these factors one cannot expect good batting technique to make a good hitter from a player with poor hand-eye coordination or a power hitter out of a weak player. But, within the constraints of the player’s natural ability, the effective coach will help the player to get maximum “mileage” from that natural ability by teaching the player good batting technique. Also, and probably more important, the effective coach will prevent the player from using the common bad techniques which greatly limit a batter’s chances.

Every batting technique you consider should be compared with the physics of swinging a bat at the ball in determining whether it makes sense or not. Many of the traditional sayings of baseball hitting don’t make sense in this context.

The Feet

Home plate is 17 inches across for all leagues, from the major leagues right down to the 6-8 year-olds’ leagues. The batter’s box is likewise the same size for all levels of baseball. The players, however, are not the same size at all levels. Your players will be much smaller than the players you see on TV.

The bat can be up to 42 inches long and 2 and 3/4 inches in diameter. Major league players probably (I do not know this for sure) swing bats about 36-38 inches long. Most of the boys you coach will swing bats between 29 inches and 32 inches long.

The short players have short arms and swing short bats. If they stand in the middle of the batter’s box they will not be able to reach the outside half of the plate with the bat.

From the coaches box at third or first the coach cannot see very well how far off the plate the batter is standing. Since almost all the players stand in the middle of the batter’s box there is usually a hole or pit there. If you can see that their heels are higher than their toes then they are too far from the plate. If their feet are level they are too far from the plate. Only if their toes are higher than their heels are they close enough.

Your tallest players should have their toes no more than three inches from the batter’s box chalk line. Your shortest players should be getting chalk on their shoes.

Now that the player is close enough to the plate the next thing is how far back from the pitcher should they stand. This varies depending on several factors. If there is a runner on first or second who will be attempting to steal then the batter should be as far back in the box as he can get to force the catcher further from the base he will throw to. This also makes low pitches more likely to hit the dirt before the catcher can get his glove on them. Also, all pitches will be lower on the catcher having dropped more in going the additional foot or so.

If the batter is to bunt he should be far up near the front of the batter’s box. This gives a much better angle for the bunt making it easier to get it near the line in fair territory. It also puts the batter closer to first. On close plays the extra 6-12 inches gained in this way can be the difference between safe and out.

If the pitcher is throwing slower than your batters are used to then you can move them toward the pitcher to make the pitches seem faster. If the pitcher throws a lot of “sinkers” or changeups, moving the batter forward will reduce the effectiveness of those pitches. With two strikes, the batter should also move toward the pitcher since the batter will be using a short swing and the fastball should not be a problem.

The batters should place their feet a little more than shoulder width apart. (Too close together and the batter is forced to either take a long stride thus moving the head too much or swinging with the feet too close together which prevents a strong hip turn. Too far apart and the body has to rock back and forth to lift the front foot to rotate it and if the feet are too far apart the hips cannot fully turn.) The knees should be slightly bent and the batter’s weight should be on the balls of the feet. This is the best “ready position” for the human body for quick action.

Moving the Feet

When the pitch is thrown the batter should move the front foot toward the pitcher. Directly toward the pitcher. Not toward the shortstop or second baseman or worse still toward a coaches box or the dugout. If this step is back from the plate then all the advantages of starting with the feet close to the plate are lost.

The step should be a short one, no more than 5-6 inches at most, even for your tallest players. A big step drops the eyes an inch or so and moves the head just when it is most important to see the ball well. The main purpose of the step is to allow the player to turn the front foot so that the line from heel to toes is pointing between the first baseman and second baseman for a right handed batter. That is about a 45 degree angle turn.

If the step is difficult for a player they will lose little by placing the front foot in the 45 degree angle position while waiting for the pitch. In this case the feet should spread 3-4 inches wider than shoulder width for better leverage on the hip turn.

The front foot should be solidly planted after the stride since it will be used as the platform from which the front leg will push back hard on the front hip. The ball of the back foot must be kept firmly on the ground since it will be used to push forward on the back hip. The back foot should not be moved during the swing though it will rotate toward the pitcher with the heel coming off the ground toward the catcher. These pushes in opposite directions by the two legs cause the hips to rotate sharply. Any action of the feet and legs which does not contribute to the powerful turning of the hips is at best unnecessary and at worst counter-productive.

You may have heard players told to “step into the pitch.” The movement of the body toward the pitcher gives little energy to the swing. It is the push on the back hip by the back leg that produces the movement toward the pitcher. This same push will be continued in the rotation of the hips once the front foot lands and begins to push back the other way on the front hip. The push on the back hip is what is good about “stepping into the pitch.”

You will also hear coaches tell players they are “opening up their hips too soon.” They will give a variety of explanations for why this is bad. The real reason is that if the hips rotate before it is time to swing the bat, they must do so slowly to prevent the swing from taking place before the ball is close enough to hit. If the hips are rotating slowly, there is little energy being produced to transfer to the bat. You will observe exactly the same phenomenon in the throwing motion, especially of pitchers. The hip turn needs to be “explosive” and it must be “detonated” at the right time.

The energy from the legs turning the hips will be the energy transferred to the bat for the swing. The legs have the strongest muscles in the body. If they are not used to rotate the body, weaker muscles must be used to provide the swing energy.

Players who do not turn their hips as they swing are rather commonly found on teams of 11-12 year olds. They are easy to detect in tryouts (skill evaluations or whatever they are called in your league). These players will not hit the ball hard unless they turn their bodies. Such players can make dramatic improvement in their hitting when they correct this one part of their swing. This aspect of the swing is the second most important thing you can do for a young hitter. The most important thing is getting them close enough to the plate to reach the ball.

Some coaches say the front foot should not be turned. If the front foot is not turned, the front leg must resist the turning of the hips. That slows the swing and reduces both the power of the swing and its quickness.

The Arms and Hands

To transfer as much energy as possible from the legs to the bat the body between the legs and shoulders must be rigid. You have probably seen people dancing the “twist” in which their hips and shoulders go in opposite directions. You do not want this while hitting. A tensing of the muscles of the torso as in a good grunt (like the ninjas do in the movies) helps to move the energy from the hips to the shoulders efficiently. Almost all the players will do this without your telling them to. That gets the energy to the arms where things get more complicated.

The batter must exert pressure on the bat to make it move. The stronger the batters arms are, the better they will be able to exert pressure on the bat. Some arm positions are stronger than others. If you extend your are straight out to the side with thumb up and push on something firmly with the palm of the hand you will soon notice that you cannot push very hard and you begin to get a pain in the elbow if you push hard enough. (We also will mention this in the sections on throwing and pitching.) The straight arm is weak due to the joint in the middle. If you now keep your elbow straight out to the side but bend the arm in a 90% angle (like when doing a pushup) and once again push on the same surface you will notice that you can push much harder and do so without pain. The 90% bend of the elbow puts the arm in its strongest position. Therefore the arm of the top hand on the bat should be bent at 90% while it is pushing the bat.

The palm of the bottom hand is between the bat and the oncoming ball. Therefore, the job of the bottom hand is different from the job of the top hand. It must pull the bottom of the bat toward the batter to prevent the handle of the bat from being pushed directly away from the batter by the top hand. If both hands were to push, the arms would extend until they were straight out and then stop. No batter does this. I mention it only to convince you that the bottom hand does indeed pull. The pulling strength of the arms is also greater when the arms are bent a little than when they are straight.

The grip on the bat also has different requirements for the two hands. The top hand does not really have to grip the bat at all for a hard swing though the batter may not be able to hold onto the bat on the follow through with just the bottom hand. The top hand must push as hard as it can on the narrow handle of the bat. This means that the bones of the wrist (forearm) should be pointed at the bat handle. The bat should not be pushed with the wrist bent back any more than you would want to punch something with your wrist bent back. In both punch and bat swing you want the wrist straight to transfer the maximum energy. The bent wrist is like a shock absorber which will lose some of the energy.

The bottom hand must have a firm grip on the bat. Therefore the fingers should be wrapped around the bat before the bottom hand curls into a fist. This gives a much stronger grip than putting the bat in the palm of the hand and then making a fist around it. As the body turns in the swing, the bottom hand pulling the bat length-ways as if it were drawing a sword from a scabbard. You can take a bat length rope and swing it “backhand” with just the bottom hand and you will see that the rope stays pretty much straight out through the course of the swing. Obviously, since the rope is limp, pushing on the rope would do little good in making it swing as a bat does. But pulling the rope in the backhand or “frisbee” motion does cause it to swing very nicely. If you try to move the bat with only a wrist movement of the bottom hand, the little finger will pull the bat toward you while the base of the thumb pushes the bat away. This wrist movement is the one from thumb toward the little finger as when you wave your hand to get someone’s attention not when you wave “bye-bye.”

You will note that many of the muscles of the top hand arm that are pushing the bat are different than the muscles of the bottom hand arm which is pulling. The bottom hand forearm and biceps need to be strong to grip the bat and pull. The front shoulder muscles and triceps in the back of the upper arm need to be strong for the upper hand arm to push.

If you can find a photograph of a good hitter just as the ball leaves the bat in which you can see the arm and hand positions well you will be able to see that the top hand arm is bent at close to 90% at the elbow and the bottom hand is pulling on the bat.


Note the front foot is rotated 45%, the back foot heel is off the ground and the foot turned, the hips are fully rotated the top hand is palm up with the forearm perpendicular to the bat and the bottom hand is pulling the bat toward the body. (On this particular swing he hit a home run.)

A right handed batter looks much the same.


In this picture take special note of the batter’s eyes. They are not looking at the ball! They are looking where the ball was when it got close enough to the batter that his eyes could not move fast enough to continue to follow the ball. You cannot see the ball hit the bat. It is good to try though.

Also in this picture, notice that the bat is bent toward the ball. Earlier in the swing it was bent the opposite direction by the force of the bottom hand pulling and the top hand pushing so hard that the momentum of the head of the bat caused the handle to bend. You can see that the bottom hand is now pulling the bat down its length rahter than the fingers pulling the opposite direction from the top hand’s push. Also, the top hand arm is beginning to extend after the hip turn and it is not pushing nearly so hard on the bat as before. Thus the bat is “snapping back” and forth like a pendulum. If the top hand is still pushing at this point in the swing the bat is still getting faster. Probably, however the bat is already slowing and the movement of the bat head in its snapping back will actually reduce the force transferred to the ball. Nonetheless, this swing also produced a home run.

The placement of the hands on the bat should be near the knob. Many coaches recommend that their smaller players “choke up” on the bat. They are especially prone to do so when the batter has two strikes. In light of the difficulty most players have in reaching strikes on the outside half of the plate (for the reasons mentioned above) following such advice reduces the player’s chance of making contact. [Baseball is also the only sport I know in which you hear a coach tell his player to “choke up” in a pressure situation.] If the bat is too heavy for the player to swing easily with his hands near the knob of the bat, the bat should be replaced by a lighter bat. Only if no lighter bat is available should the player move their hands up the bat handle.

While waiting for the pitcher to begin the pitching motion, the batter should be relaxed and alert. The bat can most easily rest on the shoulder but if the batter likes the bat can be waved around. However, once the pitcher starts his throwing motion the batter’s hands should be about even with the heart or an inch or two higher. They should be above the back foot. The bat should be vertical or only a little tilted toward the batter. The top hand arm will be bent 90 degrees at the elbow. It will remain at a 90 degree through the swing until after the ball has left the bat. The only exception being when the batter must reach for a pitch low and on the outside edge of the plate. (One can’t hit those pitches very well anyway.)

When the pitcher throws if the batter’s hands are above the shoulder, which seems popular with the 11-12 year old players these days, then the bat has to move quite a long way down before reaching the near horizontal plane of the best swing. The bat acquires considerable momentum going down to that plane unless the pitch is a high one. That downward momentum causes the bat to dip below the desired level and this makes it harder to hit the ball squarely.

Starting the swing with the hands high also delays the moment when the top hand reaches the point in the swing at which it can push the hardest. The hands above the shoulder must first be brought down a distance of from 12 inches to two feet to the plane of the swing. Only then does the top hand pushing move the bat toward the ball. Until then the top hand can only join the bottom hand in pulling down on the handle of the bat. The batter must start the swing earlier since the bat has further to go to reach the ball and the batter cannot apply much pressure to get the bat head moving early in the swing. Therefore, high hands mean the batter will not have a quick bat.

To illustrate the high hand problem try swinging the bat while your hands are high while keeping your arms “frozen.” Use just your body turn to swing the bat. If you do this swing in “slow motion” you can see that the top hand arm is moving the bat by pushing it in a direction perpendicular to the palm of the top hand as when one slaps. If you lower the hands to chest height and do the same slow motion swing you will see the top hand pushing the bat in a direction in line with the forearm as when one punches. Therefore, if the hands begin high the top hand cannot push with full power until the hands have come down to chest height.

The forearm of the top hand must be horizontal to generate the most power and quickness of bat. If the forearm goes above or below horizontal, the power of the shoulder turn can only be transferred to the bat by the rotation of the upper arm about its axis (the bone in the upper arm is rotated). The muscles which perform this rotation are not as strong as the triceps in the back of the arm and they have less leverage to rotate that bone than the triceps have to straighten the arm. That is why when you push hard on something you get the forearm perpendicular to the surface to be pushed. Try pushing on a door frame with your hand. If you push your hardest you will find your forearm to be horizontal. Change the angle of your forearm up or down 15-20 degrees and you will find you cannot push as hard and different muscles in your shoulder will be used.

When the hands start high there is also a tendency to bring the elbow in close to the side during the swing because the bat is being swung as if it were a hammer. A hammer swing uses just the arm’s strength. It gets nothing from the legs. It also is a one handed swing. This “hammer swing” has the top hand duplicating the bottom hand’s function. It tends to produce a looping swing in which the swing is “U” shaped. A looping swing makes contact with the ball less likely, popups probable, and the batter cannot get their full strength into the swing.

Before the decision to swing is made, the batter should take the step with the front foot and, perhaps, even begin the hip turn. Unless the batter is starting the swing before the decision, it will be too late to hit the ball properly when the decision is made. If the pitch is identified as outside the strike zone after the swing has begun the batter can pull the hands toward the body and the bat away from the ball. If the ball is going to be a strike, the batter has only to continue what is already begun.

The hands should move the bat directly toward the ball. As the top hand begins the swing it will have the bat near vertical. As the swing drives the bat toward the pitcher the hand rotates toward the horizontal (or palm up position). The movement of the top hand and arm is the same as that of a boxer delivering a body blow except for the hand rotation. There is much more power in a straight punch motion of the hand than in a slapping motion of the hand. If that were not the case boxers would be slapping each other as often as punching.

The Wrists

The wrists have very weak muscles. There are three motions the wrist can make, the hand flapping “bye-bye” motion, the side to side “hi there” motion which moves the palm from side to side, and the twist used in tightening or loosening a screw. This last movement is really a rotation of the whole forearm but we will take it as a kind of wrist movement anyway. All of the muscles that control the wrist are in the forearm. Most of the muscle mass in the forearm is for curling and straightening the fingers. That is why boxers squeeze rubber balls to increase the weight of their forearms and thus the power of their punch. Such weak muscles simply cannot generate very much energy. Also, being weak, they cannot be very quick if they have any “burden” to bear such as a bat. Therefore, a true “wrist hitter” would be a very weak hitter indeed. It is unlikely they could hit a fastball out of the infield.If you refer to photographs of hitters at contact with the ball, or if you watch your own swing in slow motion (look down at the bat while you swing it 🙂 ) you will see that the wrists do not turn until after the ball has left the bat or the bat has passed the point in the swing where the batter wanted to make contact. Therefore, the wrists are not very important in hitting the ball. They are important in the followthrough of the swing. This is the time when the bat is slowed so it doesn’t hurt the batter. The batter’s subconscious will be trying to take care of the batter even when the batter is not paying attention to such things. If the batter does not rotate the wrists on a hard swing, the subconscious will try to start slowing the bat before the bat hits the ball. Thus, the batter needs to rotate the wrists properly to allow the body to maximize the power of the swing. The rotation of the wrists is far less important than the body turn and the proper use of the arms. Only players who are doing everything else right should be corrected in this aspect of the swing.

The Head

The head is not contributing energy to the swing but it is crucial for making contact with the ball. If the head is in motion or being jolted the difficulty involved in hitting a pitch is magnified considerably. The head needs to be facing the pitcher when the delivery of the pitch begins. Both eyes should have a clear view of the ball. The batter should be looking at the place where the ball will first appear from behind the pitcher.

Some batters move their focus of attention away from the ball before they have to. This has given rise to coaches emphasizing watching the ball until it hits the bat. Now this is impossible even for major league hitters so one is not surprised that 11-12 year old players cannot do it. But the need for focusing complete attention on the ball as it approaches is quite correct.

While the pitch is approaching the batter cannot be thinking of how to swing. The swing must come from habit, the subconscious. The batter is visualizing (remembering vividly) the hitting of the ball in the desired direction. But they are, at the same time focusing their eyes and complete attention on the ball.

The Mind of the Batter

In batting as in most of the other things an athlete does, the conscious mind can only give general goals and directions to the subconscious which then does the actual body movements to achieve those ends. Practice is teaching the conscious mind how to get the subconscious mind to do what the conscious mind wants done. This is why a player will improve to some degree just by imagining themselves playing the game. The better the imagery is, the more intense the memory is of the correct action, the easier it is for the subconscious to “get the message.” Therefore, during practice, the player should intentionally remember as vividly as possible what their body felt like while correctly performing. They cannot always tell when they are doing it right since they do not already have the skill you are trying to teach them. When they accumulate a large store of memories of doing it right and can vividly recall how their body feels while playing, they will have developed the skill. Your job as coach is to help them acquire those memories of doing it right. Sometimes a player does something right but doesn’t notice how his body felt while doing it right. It is most important that you tell them right away that they did it well and ask them to remember how their bodies felt as they were doing it. They must remember success. Remembering failure is the key to repeating the failure. This is how batters get into slumps. Don’t emphasize what the player is doing wrong, emphasize what the player should do right.

As the batter waits for the pitch they should be “rehearsing” how their body will feel as it hits the ball by visualizing the pitch and their swing and the ball going where they want it to go. When the pitcher starts their motion toward home, the batter’s attention should be focused entirely on the ball. The conscious mind should go “blank.” It has already instructed the subconscious as to what to accomplish. This will in no way guarantee success, but it will give the batter their best chance to hit the ball as well as their body can.

Players usually visualize their hits. One of the players’ greatest problems is that the hit they are visualizing is the wrong kind of hit. Most players want the prestige of the long fly ball. The home run over the outfield fence is in their minds when they are in the batter’s box. They should be picturing a hard ground ball between the shortstop and third baseman. This tends to prevent the “looping” of the bat in which the bat drops below the flight path of the ball and then comes back up across it. This kind of swing makes it very hard to hit the ball at all and, if it is hit, will tend to hit a popup or easy fly ball. Also, no one can swing very hard that way.

If a batter is punished for swinging at a ball outside the strike zone (usually a high one), they will tend to not swing at the next pitch no matter where it is. Since most young batters fear the embarrassment of missing a pitch, it is hard enough to get them to swing at all without overcoming fear of being yelled at for swinging. Thus, emphasize expecting a strike and taking pitches higher than the heart but do not show anger if they swing at one over their head.

As the ball approaches the batter it will reach a “decision point.” At this distance the batter will decide to swing or not swing. How far from the batter the ball is at that point will vary depending mostly upon the batter’s habits. Most 11-12 year old batters have the same decision point regardless of the speed of the pitches. This makes them very vulnerable to changes of speed in the pitch. The batter should practice moving this point given the batting situation. Move it back toward the pitcher when the pitcher has a faster than normal fastball. Move it back when the batter wants to “pull” the ball. Move it closed to the batter for slow pitchers and when there are two strikes. We will discuss hitting with two strikes below.

Some batters can adjust their decision point rather easily and some cannot. Most can adjust it at least a little. Adjusting it by a foot or two is enough for most circumstances.


Most 11-12 year-olds do not want to bunt. Since the game is for their enjoyment I do not require any of my players to learn to bunt nor do I require them to bunt in games. I teach all of them about bunting so if they discover how bunting can increase their chances to win or “make the team” at a higher level of baseball they can practice bunting and develop the skill.

I like to keep all the skills as simple as I can so in bunting I suggest not moving the feet at all, just rotating the upper body to face the pitcher so the bat can be properly positioned to receive the ball. In addition to the simplicity of this technique, you also avoid two problems associated with moving the feet. If the batter is standing close enough to the plate and moves just the back foot they will be standing on the plate with that foot. If the batter moves only the front foot instead, they will pivot so far from the strike zone that they cannot reach most pitches and have an extra step to run to get to first. Therefore, the batter must move both feet. This requires a little hop which takes more time and “tips off” the infield that a bunt is coming. That is the first problem. The second problem is that the movement is relatively complicated with both hands and feet in quick action at the same time. This makes it harder to learn and delays their success. Since they are reluctant to learn bunting already, delaying success can prevent their doing enough practice bunting to become successful.

The batter should move to the front of the batter’s box when they take their stance. This dramatically improves the angle of the bunt. It is much easier to put the ball fair and near the foul line from the front of the box. Boys this age and coaches at this level almost never notice that the batter is forward in the box so it will not “tip the play” normally. Also, catchers tend to set up the same distance behind the plate (in the hole dug by all the other catchers) regardless of where the batter stands. Thus, the catcher will not move forward to improve their chances of fielding the bunt. If they other team picks up on the batter being forward in the box they will tell you by yelling to the fielders to look out for a bunt. This improves the effectiveness of the fake bunt discussed below and gives you time to change the play if you like.

As the upper body rotates to face the pitcher, the top hand should slide up the bat to a point just below the bat’s greatest width. In the old days of wooden bats that was about there the “brand” of the manufacturer’s label was. This placement of the hand is to maximize control of the bat. If the hands remain together near the knob of the bat they cannot control the other end of the bat nearly so well.

The bat should be held parallel to the ground at the very top of the strike zone. The bat should be brought down to the top of the ball. This prevents the disaster of a popup while bunting. The bat should never rise above the top of the strike zone (unless the bunt is a “suicide squeeze”).

As the pitch comes in the batter should try to “catch” the ball with the fat part of the bat. The feeling of catching the ball on the bat is to counter the batters’ impulse to “hit” the ball. If the bat is thrust toward the ball the resultant hard hit bunt is likely to get to a fielder too soon.

Some batting coaches recommend that the bat be tilted with the barrel of the bat lower than the knob. I do not like that position since it makes a popup more likely, reduces directional control of the bunt, and makes it possible for a foul tip to be directed toward the batter. Since the batters at this age are quite afraid of being hit by the ball, getting hit by a foul while bunting will make them very reluctant to get close enough to the plate to bunt.

The top hand should not make a fist around the bat. It should have the thumb on top of the bat and the sides of the other fingers (fingers curled, not straight) on the bottom if the bat. This leaves the side of the bat toward the ball free of fingers. If a finger is caught between the bat and the ball the finger can be broken. I have seen two players get broken fingers when they were trying to get out of the way of an inside pitch and they did not release the bat in time.

Most novice bunters can bunt the ball all right but they tend to bunt it straight back to the pitcher. At this age bunts should all be directed down the third base line. There are several reasons for this. The ball is further from first base and that gives the batter more time to get there first. The pitcher is moving away from first base while approaching the ball and must stop their momentum in that direction before being able to make a good throw to first. The pitcher and third baseman must coordinate their efforts so they do not collide. An error in catching the throw or in throwing the ball too high can turn the bunt into a triple since the ball will tend to go into the right-field corner. The ball is far enough from the runner that they cannot be tagged out by the player fielding the bunt. Bunts toward first must be bunted exactly right and the runner must run in between the baseline and the stripe outside the baseline. If the ball is bunted too hard and the first baseman makes the play unassisted. If the ball is not bunted hard enough, the pitcher can get it and has a short throw to first. The batter risks being tagged out by the player fielding the bunt.

There are no advantages on sacrifice or squeeze bunts in the bunt being toward first base rather than third. In fact, since there is no lane for the runner on the third base line the runner can drift into fair territory (once the ball is behind them) to make the throw to the catcher more difficult on the squeeze bunt toward third.

A foul bunt is always a strike, even if the batter already has two strikes. You will probably never have a player at this age who can bunt so well that it is worth the risk that the ball will roll foul. Therefore, the first bunting rule is to never bunt with two strikes. If you have taught your players this rule you can give the bunt sign with two strikes to help confuse the opponents as to what the bunt sign is. If the bases are loaded the bunt must be a very good one to avoid having the runner from third forced out at home. You will probably never have a player at this age who can bunt so well that it is worth that risk either. Thus the second bunting rule is never bunt with the bases loaded.

Right handed bunters find it harder to bunt toward third than toward first. Left handed bunters find it easier to bunt toward third. Since it is so easy to make contact with the ball while bunting, and since the batter does not want power when bunting, right handed batters should learn to bunt batting left handed also. Also, the left handed bunter is a step or two closer to first when the ball hits the bat.

The fake bunt is a great tool for the offensive team. It can be used to make the third and first basemen play in a step or two thus increasing the chances of a ground ball going through the infield. It can “rattle” the pitcher and make it harder for them to throw strikes. It can make stealing third easy when the third baseman charges to field the expected bunt. If the third baseman does not charge it makes it easy to get a bunt hit toward third. A runner stealing third when the ball is bunted often can score on the play if the first baseman is not alert.

The fake bunt requires the batter square to bunt a little earlier than on a regular bunt. The body turn and hand movement should be does just as the pitcher’s hands break on the move toward home. This give plenty of time for the fielders to move out of position and is still late enough in the pitcher’s motion that it comes as a surprise. An added advantage of squaring early is that the batter still has time to take the bat back for a full swing. (Another advantage of not moving the feet for the bunt.)

Bunting for a hit requires squaring as late as possible while still getting set before the ball arrives. For most batters this will be as the pitcher’s hand starts forward in the delivery. Since the batter is looking at the spot at which the ball will appear from behind the pitcher anyway, the signal to turn can be when the ball is first seen. It is a rare third baseman at this level who will have moved at all before the ball hits the bat if the squaring to bunt starts at that time.


Batters are often hit by pitches because the pitchers at this age do not have good control. To evade low pitches the batters existing habits will do. To evade pitches at the body or head requires going against habit. These pitches should be evaded by bowing to the umpire. This protects the face, the hands on the bat (which is now shielded by the body), the neck, and makes being hit on the torso a glancing blow rather than the body getting the full force of the ball’s energy.

If the player bowing to the umpire is struck on the leg there are big muscles there to cushion the blow.  Also the knees can bend with the blow because they do not expose the side or front of the knee.

Inside pitches often cause the batter to duck straight down to dodge the ball. This often results in putting the head in the path of the ball and, unless the helmet fits correctly, might leave the helmet behind and the head unprotected.

The brave batter who really wants to get on base without risk of injury can use this “bow to the umpire” technique.  Since this position does not prevent the ball from hitting the batter it often results in a “free” pass to first. The key is to make the turn quickly while lowering the head and shoulders toward the umpire. Practice with tennis balls will easily perfect the technique.

Comments are closed.