How to Slap Hit an Inside Pitch
An inside pitch can be a real pain for many slappers. Because a slapper’s intention is to hit every pitch like an outside pitch — off the back hip and towards the 5-6 hole — an inside pitch makes everything about the process a bit harder... but not impossible! The key to being successful against an inside pitch is to have the right attack, and focusing on two specific technique facets that will make hitting these pitches a piece of cake. Interested? Keep reading to learn how to slap hit an inside pitch.
Alter Your Footwork
Most pitches won’t require you to change anything about your footwork. However, an inside pitch presents a unique challenge for slappers. In order to make slapping this pitch easier, you are going to change the line you walk along as you approach the ball. For any other pitch, you will walk along a straight line, drawn right down the middle of the box towards the pitcher. For an inside pitch, you will modify that line to extend 45 degrees away from your back foot.
If you take the three-step approach, follow these steps:
- Step your front foot back towards your back foot as you normally would to start your slap.
- Upon crossing your back foot over your front foot, exaggerate the step-over to stay along the line drawn 45 degrees away from your back foot. Normally, your second step would land your back foot perfectly in line with your front foot (your toes would still be aligned). For an inside pitch, your back foot’s toes will end up aligned with your front foot’s heel.
- If you take the two-step approach [link] to the ball, you will exaggerate your first step (with your back foot).
Exaggerating this step-over gives your hands more room to move along the inside path of the ball.
Hot Tip: Practice!
This approach can be difficult to perfect, so you should definitely practice the footwork without a ball before trying to hit a moving pitch. Drawing a line in the dirt will be your best visual aid if you're practicing on your own, so don't be afraid to do it during practice or games. Whatever you do, keep that front shoulder closed!
Bring Your Hands in Tight
For any pitch, slapping requires a batter to keep her hands inside the path of the ball. And while it may be harder to do this on an inside pitch, it’s even more important to do so in this situation. The exaggerated step-over helps your hands stay tight to your body, as well as creates the space necessary to move inside the path of an inside pitch. This approach makes it easier to hit the ball away from you and into the 5-6 hole— and demonstrates why altering your footwork is so helpful.
You will also have to really focus on hitting the ball away from you. In order to do this with your hands being so close to your body, your hands will need to follow the path of a tight “C.”
- From your ready stance, bring your hands down and inside towards your right hip. Keep your hands tight to your body as you do this.
- Round your hands along the inside path of the ball and away from your body, moving along the plane of your hips. Imagine that your hands are following a crescent-like path:
- Start with your hands high and ready.
- To swing, move your hands down (keeping them close to your body) and towards your waist. Once your hands are nearing your belly button, move them towards your front hip. This will ensure that your hands stay along the inside path of the ball.
- Once your hands pass your front up, push your hands out and away from your body. (This last movement will coincide with when you make contact with the pitch.)
Hot Tip: Lay Down a Bunt if It's Slow
Remember: If the ball is coming in inside, but slow, it might be easiest to drag a bunt down the first base line and hustle down to first.
Work at It
Being able to recognize and react to an inside pitch may not be the easiest thing to do without practice. Using a tee when learning this approach make doing so much easier. Set up the tee for an inside pitch and practice starting your footwork close to the plate. With enough practice, you’ll get comfortable enough to advance to side toss, and finally to front toss. When you perfect it, you’ll be quite the force to reckon with on the field!