How to Slap Hit a Change-up in Softball
Though hitting a change-up can be challenging to a slapper for a number of reasons, one of the most common problems has to do with the timing of the footwork. Slappers sequence their footwork — which marks the start of the slap — off the pitcher’s approach. Because a change-up comes in a lot slower than a regular fastball, it can wreak havoc on a slapper’s ability to time the pitch. However, if you know how to react to, and hit, the change-up, you’ll be unstoppable in the box. Keep reading for tips on how to conquer the change-up.
Be Ready for It!
Be ready for the change-up if you're a slapper (or drag bunter on the left side) with or without two strikes, regardless of the number of balls. Many pitchers will try to catch a slapper out of the box when making contact, which would result in an automatic out. You should also be ready for it if it's the pitcher's go-to pitch.
If you are a slapper or a drag bunter, the change-up presents a completely different set of difficulties. Because the footwork for a drag bunt and a slap is the same, it doesn’t matter which type of batter you are — just follow the tips below to conquer the change-up!
- Get into the box and set up.
- Time your footwork with the pitcher’s motion.
- Most likely, you won’t realize the pitcher has thrown a change-up until you back foot has already crossed over your front foot. That’s okay! From this position, you can do one of two things:
- You can wait — letting your feet stay as they are and keeping your hands back — until the pitch nears the plate, and then step through with your front foot as you swing down on the ball.
- You can wait — letting your feet stay as they are and keeping your hands back — until the pitch nears the plate, and then lay down a bunt!
Similar to a normal swing, you probably won’t have too much power behind a slap attempt (unless, of course, you recognize the pitch beforehand and can time your footwork appropriately). Because of this, you will probably end up with a soft bunt or a soft slap — either is okay!
If you can keep your hands back on the change-up, you’ll be more successful every time you face one.
Practice Always Helps
You’ll never be ready to face a change-up in a game if you don’t practice it. Most slappers spend a lot of time focusing on the change-up because it can really tie them up in the box.
- Set up the tee for an outside pitch (for most slaps, you should be practicing this pitch location).
- Get into your stance and start your footwork.
- After your back foot steps over your front foot, pause.
- Then throw your hands at the pitch as you step through with your front foot, or bunt. You’ll notice that you don’t have as much of your body behind the slap, but that’s how it will be on the field.
Get after It
There’s no reason to fear the change-up. In fact, you should welcome it! Showing a pitcher that you can hit anything she throws at you is one of the most intimidating things you can do in the batter’s box. If you take these tips to heart and practice, you’ll be more than ready for the change-up.