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You may have noticed in the past 3-4 years an increasing number of players at the Women’s College World Series showing bunt, pulling the bat back, and then swinging away to hit.  This is what many coaches refer to as a “timing slap.”  You may have asked yourself, “What the heck is that all about?”

The point of this approach is to “shorten up” the players swing.  Why would we want to do that?  The benefit of this is three-fold:

  1. To help the hitter get to the ball a little quicker.
  2. To help the hitter see the ball a little longer by having her turn her entire head towards the pitcher (prior to pulling the bat back).
  3. To make it more probable that the player will put the ball in play against a dominant pitcher (or rise ball pitcher).

It is important to note that this is simply a “tool.”  The players you see doing this at the WCWS do not use this tool with every at-bat. However,  it is a great weapon that they have in their arsenal (especially when facing good pitching).

It has taken me about four years to completely “buy in” to this approach to hitting, but I think I am finally there. 

I have tried this with my teams in the past, but have never committed to it enough for my teams to be effective with it.

In fact, I believe if we had done a better job of developing this skill in 2015 we may have gone at least one round deeper in the playoffs and possibly to the state championship game.  And that is on me as the head coach.

The first team I saw using this frequently was Michigan about 5-6 years ago when they won the WCWS.   It seems to have slowly evolved over time.  If you watched the tournament this year, you would typically see at least a couple of players on each team using this technique from time to time.

Alabama, Florida, and Michigan (just to name a few) all use this frequently.   And that is some very good company!

If you would like to view an example of this, click on the following link.  It is a YouTube video which is a little bit fuzzy, but it is a great video to give you an idea of what this looks like in real-time, as well as slow motion:

Here are a few key points regarding the technique of the timing slap:

  • Square around as if showing a sacrifice bunt to get both eyes square to the pitcher. NOTE: Some players like to pivot the back foot, while others leave both feet pointed at the plate…either method is ok.
  • Slide the bottom hand up a little bit on the handle/grip of the bat (this is ideal, but not everyone does this).
  • Slide the top hand up to the bottom of the barrel when squaring around (just like in bunting position)
  • Prior to the pitcher releasing the ball, pull the bat straight back (notice in the video that she pulls the bat straight back…she does NOT make the common mistake of dropping her hands while pulling the bat back).
  • While pulling the bat back, slide the top hand back down to meet the bottom hand. The bottom hand remains in place (slightly choked up on the grip)
  • Get back into hitting position and swing away!

Aside from the benefit of shortening up the swing, etc., another thing that I really like about this method is that it allows for a faster player to put down a drag bunt after pulling the bat back.  This is a little “wrinkle” that some teams used during the WCWS.  Talk about keeping the defense off-balanced!

Much like I mentioned in my prior post on drag bunting, it is my opinion that if these little things work at the college level against amazing defenses, then it will be that much more effective against weaker defenses at the high school level and below.

So will I be teaching my team the timing slap this year?  You better believe it!  And will I be committing to it 100% for the first time in my coaching career?  YES!  It is not a hard technique to teach, but it does take commitment from the coach (which is a whole blog post in itself).  This is going to be one of my focal points for the 2016 season.

(By Tim Covey, Founder of Covey Sports)

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