The execution and dedicated practice of bunting can take any good offensive team to the level of a great offensive team. Understanding and practicing the bunting philosophy explained here will allow players to be a part of their team’s offense moving from good to great.
No baseball team is complete in the offensive phase of baseball without mastering the art of bunting. A team’s ability to bunt provides an exceptional counterbalance for any team built on scoring runs through brute force and power. Many football pundits believe a gridiron team must choose to be great at the run or the pass, but not enough time is available to be great at both. Time is proving the opposite - being an exceptionally-balanced offense provides the kick necessary to become great. The same principle holds true for a baseball offense. A team must be able to bunt and move players around the bases with both precision bunting and power.
A series of physical actions can put the hitter into a position to succeed in the bunting game. Like fielding a groundball, the physical actions occurring before the actual action will lead to successful execution. Here are those physical actions in a bulleted list:
- See the ball by making sure both eyes have a clear line of sight to the baseball.
- Open the shoulders to the ball, this creates a good line of sight and the ability to react.
- The barrel of the bat should come through the slot of the shoulder, setting the bat at the highest point of the strike zone. Hitters never want to lift their hands to adjust to a pitch due to the potential of pop-ups.
- The hands should be in front of the plate.
- The top hand should “pinch” or “cradle” the barrel, both for control and the safety of the hand.
- The bottom hand should be at or close to the knob of the bat, acting as a rudder.
- The elbow of the arm connected to the bottom hand creates an upward angle in a relaxed fashion which serves to deaden the baseball upon impact.
- The angle of the bat must be set appropriately as well. The bat should be set with the barrel slightly above the knob to create a slight upward angle. In addition, the angle of the bat should also dictate the direction of the bunt. The barrel should point between the SS and 3B for a bunt down the third-base line, and should point between the 2B and 1B for a bunt down the first-base line. Players should be encouraged early in learning the bunt to never set the angle directly at the pitcher. These angles should be set as early as possible for the desired bunt.
- The knees work similarly to the hitting fundamentals. The front knee opens with the front foot and creates an almost 90-degree angle. This provides the body movement to go down with the height of the pitch. For the same purpose, the back leg is in a position in which it can collapse and deaden to provide the appropriate depth. A pitch high in the zone does not require that depth so the back leg provides strength.
- The feet should creep close to the front of the batter’s box. This allows the player to use the whole 90 degrees available to him on the field.
Drills: there are a pair of drills that can work independently or combined together. Players can learn bunting technique by using the one-hand bunt drill. Players hold the bat with their top hand, set the appropriate angle, and drop bunts with one hand. The pitcher should be closer and throw the ball softer than usual as this skill is mastered. In addition, players can learn the skill of bunting by bunting from their knees. Using both hands or one hand, players should use the technique described above with their knees and execute bunts from on their knees.