The Art of Bunting: "The Sacrifice"
The Art of Bunting (The “Sacrifice”)
by Brian Rhone
Bunting is extremely important for every young player to learn and understand. Before we learn how to bunt we must know why we are doing it. The most common bunt that is often done incorrectly is the “sacrifice”. A young athlete must understand the reasoning for bunting. The first and foremost reason why coaches give the bunt sign is to move runners into scoring position. This is where I have commonly seen mistakes happen. To properly “sacrifice bunt” you must be in the correct “athletic” position. To get to this position, you must have balance and focus. The batter must be in front of the batter's box ready to focus and see the baseball. Without concentration and focus a batter cannot and will not be able to bunt a baseball consistently
Most coaches have taught me to pivot (the back foot) all the way around facing the pitcher. What I have seen in the past few months is one common mistake with the pivot method; squaring all the way around (with the back foot) towards the pitcher. When you square your entire body around facing the pitcher you often DO NOT cover the entire plate with the bat which causes unwanted movement to the ball (often called stabbing at the ball). As a righty batter, you pivot your back foot towards the second baseman; as a lefty batter you pivot your back foot towards the shortstop. This will create coverage of the plate and prevent you from stabbing at the ball.
“Head and Hand Position”
One of the biggest keys to bunting successfully is hand position. Being in control of the bat is a MUST for a young player. You need to think about splitting the bat into thirds. The top hand goes up almost to the label depending on where the label is on the bat. The bottom hand is what is going to control the barrel position and angle. If you DO NOT have a good bottom hand position you won't be able to bunt. After you have the correct hand position you must know where to hold the bat. I've had many coaches tell me to just get the bat out in front and lay it down. INCORRECT. You must start at the high strike and your head and eyes must be behind the barrel. You want your head behind the bat so you can see both the bat and the ball coming at you. As always, the bat needs to be covering the plate and out in front of you angled properly towards where you are bunting. We use are legs to bend down to get the low strike, we DO NOT STAB and we always keep the proper angle.
“Contact and Angle”
The ball should make contact almost at the top of the bat to deaden the ball which basically slows down the speed of the ball. The “sacrifice bunt” should be nice and soft and placed correctly down the first baseline or the third baseline. If the ball is bunted back to the pitcher that can cause an easy out or a double play. There are many ways coaches teach the angle of the bat when bunting. In college, bunting was a very useful skill that came in handy when I needed it the most. As a righty, (to bunt to first base) you should angle the knob of the bat to the third base coach and to bunt to third you must angle the barrel of the bat to the first base coach keeping that 45 degree angle. It is opposite for lefties
-use your legs
-never bunt the ball back to the pitcher
-have confidence that you're GOING to get it down
-be soft, don't stab
-start at the high strike
- cover the plate
-get up in the batters box
-have control of the bat and focus