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NFCA Coaching Tip Of The Week

How many coaches have this problem: a player has exceptional defensive skills, is very athletic and very quick (3.0 seconds or less home to first from the right-handed batter's box). But this talented athlete has one big downfall: hitting. She just hasn't had much success at the plate. What happens if this is a player that must be in your lineup? No team can afford to have an automatic out in the lineup. How can this athlete be a productive offensive player? Why not turn her into a slapper?

Before working with a player on becoming a slapper, she must be sold on the idea. The following list is how I help convince players and other coaches that it works.

Offensive Versatility

The player has many options at bat. She can bunt, slap, drag bunt or hit away. (We always teach our slappers to hit as well as slap.)

Adds More Pressure to the Defense

With a quick left-handed batter in the box, the defense knows it must hurry to field and throw the ball to have a chance to record the out. If there is a bunt and run, or a slap and run, then it really increases the chance for a defensive mistake.

Success Ratio

With slappers, the contact rate will increase, which should lead to the ball being in play more often. If the ball is in play more often, there will be an increase in the opportunities for people to reach base. With more runners on base, there are more opportunities to score.

Confidence

The player will gain confidence because, as a slapper, she will be a positive contributor to the team. A confident player will benefit a team in all areas.

Will Help Offset a Dominating Pitcher

The slapper will put the ball in play much more than your average hitter, giving any team a better chance to score. It really is deflating for a team to sit and watch hitter after hitter strike out. With a slapper, there is always a chance something good will happen when she puts the ball in play.

Exploits a Weak Fielding Infield

If the third baseman or shortstop are weak defenders, bunt or slap to them until they prove that they will make the play consistently.

It Works

As a coach, be sure to look at on-base percentage with the slapper, not the batting average, as the slapper will force many defensive mistakes.

Since our team has incorporated the slap game, we have been very successful. We have won many games that we would not have won without our slappers, many of them against very dominating pitchers. Our slappers' on-base percentage over the last six seasons is over .500. I am sure everyone would like to be on base 50 percent of the time. I know our kids enjoy it.