Softball Slap Hitting
Becoming a Softball Slapper
So, your softball team coach has suggested converting to slap hitting. Or, you have observed a team member or a player on an opposing team having great success slapping.
In any case, you think converting to slap hitting might be a productive change.
In this article, Building Rome Series offers a list of ten considerations, some “food for thought,” to help you make the best decision regarding becoming a softball slapper.
What is Softball Slap Hitting?
Click the link for a demonstration of the five techniques involved in becoming a softball slapper.
Benefits of Converting to Softball Slap Hitting
A good softball slap hitter will typically bat around a .600 average in High School. This impressive feat is rarely possible for regular hitters.
Even though slappers are not typically power-hitting sluggers, slap hitters are in high demand by travel ball teams and colleges. They are valued for their ability to get on base and then steal. For the smaller, quick athlete, if the desire is to “open the door” for a possible college scholarship, slapping may be a great route.
Slap hitting is fun. Especially for the strategically-minded player, identifying and taking advantage of the hole in the defense adds an extra element of excitement. Opposing defenses are pressured and challenged when a good slap hitter comes to the plate.
10 Considerations To Think About Before Becoming a Softball Slapper
#1 Converting to Softball Slap Hitting is a Big Project!
Converting to slap hitting involves much more than getting a running start from the left side of the batter’s box.
First, all right-handed hitters must traverse the initial period of awkwardness when switching to the left side of the plate.
If the hitter is a natural lefty, the learning curve is somewhat reduced. Yet, even for the lefty, becoming a softball slapper is a large undertaking. Complex skills must still be trained, and game confidence developed over time.
To add even more challenge, the softball slapper must also be a proficient hitter. The softball slapper must train their hitting skills just as any non-slapper. It is crucial to understand, the softball slap hitter who can’t hit the ball out of the infield can be easily defended.
In sum, the slap hitter has not one but two offensive abilities to achieve. They must be able to:
- Stand and hit with high average and some power.
- Consistently execute each of the four slapper skills (drag, soft slap, hard slap, and bouncers) as the situation dictates.
#2 Best Age to Convert to Becoming a Softball Slapper?
Age ten is the earliest Building Rome Series recommends beginning slapper training. Starting before this age can damage fragile confidence and risk the youth player’s growing love of the sport.
Conversely, it may not make sense to convert to softball slapping after the sophomore year of High School. In short, there is a lot of work with little time to reap the rewards.
#3 Should a Pitcher Convert to Softball Slap Hitting?
Fastpitch softball pitching is a challenging and complicated skill. Pitching takes year-round practice, tremendous desire, and commitment to succeed.
Therefore, mixing pitching and slapping is not recommended.
The only exception might be for the athlete who lives and breathes the sport and has little or no other activities outside school. But, even still, they will be busy!
#4 Already too busy?
Is the prospective slapper heavily involved in academics, music, theater, or other sports? If so, think about how time will be carved out for slapping lessons and extra practice.
Don’t rely on your team coach, or any coach for that matter, who does not have a comprehensive understanding of how to teach slapping successfully.
In the long run, slapping will be a frustrating experience without expert training. Therefore, it is critical to find a good slapping coach.
The typical slapper will need about 50 to 75 lessons before they are ready to compete successfully at the High School Varsity level.
#6 Will Your Team Coach Be Patient?
Typically, during the first season, after converting to softball slapping, offensive production may be down.
Yet, it remains imperative the slapper get game exposure to begin applying their new skills.
Will the player’s team coach be patient as expertise grows? Will the coach think of how much better the team will be once the slapper reaches their potential?
Or, will the coach reduce playing time after a few unsuccessful games slapping. This can be disastrous for confidence and love of the game.
Coaching is an important consideration before deciding to switch to slapping.
#7 Is the Softball Slap Hitter Prepared for the Initial Period of Awkwardness?
As we have said, natural lefties have a small advantage when learning to slap. The learning curve is a little less steep.
For right-handed hitters, left-side swings will feel unnatural for a while. The less dominant arm is now the rear arm, the stride is now with the right foot, and rotation occurs in the opposite direction. Bat speed will be slow, and barrel control inconsistent with lots of swings and misses. It feels like learning to swing all over again. It is important to set these expectations from the beginning.
Now for the good news! It is amazing how fast kids adapt. With consistent practice, the initial period of discomfort does not last long. Within the first year, most right to left converted players hit the ball as hard and often harder than they did from the right side.
#8 Power, Speed, and Athleticism?
First of all, if the hitter is already looking like they could be a powerful slugger, then stay the course and don’t switch. Power hitters are at a premium.
Secondly, speed is essential for a slapper since they must commonly beat out infield hits. The prospective slapper should be one of the top three fastest runners on their team. Hitters with blazing speed can gain an edge by learning to slap.
Thirdly, if the young hitter is lower on the athletic scale, taking a little longer to learn new athletic skills than other kids, they may be a more confident offensive player if they don’t make the switch to slapping. The complexity of slapping and the body control required can be frustrating. Instead, a focus on strength conditioning, bat speed generation, and training swing paths to increase batting average (click for details about our new book series devoted to hitting) is a promising course to softball success. Moreover, this path will help ensure softball is a life experience the player will look back on fondly.
#9 Desire, Goals, or Frustration?
What is the hitter’s desire to learn to slap? If the desire is in question, a good idea is to try a few slapping lessons and then decide to proceed further.
What are the athlete’s goals for softball? Are they old enough to be thinking about playing in college? Are they trying to get on an A-level travel ball team? Or are they playing the game primarily for fun and camaraderie? Don’t switch to slapping if the athlete isn’t serious about the sport.
Also, consider how the player takes to coaching? Are they willing to make a lot of adjustments? What is their frustration level when these adjustments are frequently challenging?
Converting to softball slapping requires patience and persistence.
#10 Best Time of Year to Becoming a Softball Slap Hitter?
The best time of year to start learning to slap is in the fall. If the player is playing fall ball, they can try out their developing abilities in the more relaxed environment of fall competition. Then, the player has all winter to hone techniques and be prepared for the next spring season.
Building Rome Series wishes you success on your hitter’s slapping conversion!
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