One of the common themes in nearly all of my articles is how to deal with fears. There are certainly lots of reasonable fears that players have in this great game. Fears that I recognize and help you fully understand what to do differently so that you don't have to be afraid. But the fear of getting hit in the head with the ball when you are bunting isn't one of them. Oh it's a fear, just not a reasonable one.
I'm not saying I'm a big fan of getting hit in the face with the ball. But there is one important difference between me being hit in the head with the ball and you being hit in the head with the ball while you are bunting. That difference is called a BATTING HELMET. You get to wear one to completely protect your head and your face, but I don't get to.
POW! You get hit in the helmet and you might be “freaked out” for a second or two but you will still be fine. But if you keep turning your head away you are opening your throat up to the ball and that will hurt. So stop it. Recognize that you are wearing helmet and there is no reason to be afraid.
This month I'm going to ask you to do something that there is no way you will do if you remain even slightly afraid of the ball. I'm going to ask you to …gulp… get your head, specifically your eyes, as close to the point of contact as you possibly can. Remember those rolled up socks I had you have your mom toss to you last month? Get them back out because it's time to practice with them again. This time I want you to wear your helmet and as they are coming at you I want you to track them with your eyes right into the bat so that your face gets as close to contact as you possibly can.
Transition from the socks to using waffle balls. Like last month keep working on trying to bunt the ball off the very end of the bat. Have you noticed that the farther the ball is outside the harder it is to get your head at the contact point? There is a reason for that … it is. Despite your best intentions your neck doesn't stretch as far as you might want it to. So what's a girl to do? How about crowding the plate instead of backing off the plate? No way if you crowd the plate the ball might just hit you in the head. Oh yeah that's the safest part of your body with a helmet on. So do it. Have the person tossing to you start tossing them right at you. When they do you will learn an incredible lesson. It is really, really, really easy to bunt a ball that is coming right at you.
So now that you are getting more comfortable I'm going to ask you to do something that will make you uncomfortable again. I'm going to ask you hold the bat so that only about the 6 inches at the end of the bat will be showing and bunt the ball that way. Now I'm willing to bet your eyes work a little harder and you will bunt the ball off the very end of the bat. Be sure to watch the video at this point if you aren't sure how you should be holding your hands.
Once you get comfortable doing that with waffle balls I'm going to ask you to do something a little uncomfortable again … have the person tossing to you start tossing real softballs. Not kidding. When they do that you will have no choice but to focus even harder with those eyes. Keep in mind when they are tossing the ball their job isn't to toss the ball straight at the end of the bat. It's your job to move your hands to ensure you catch the ball at the end of the bat or the ball will hurt your fingers. Your eyes will be your best friend and will get you through this. You've GOT THIS!!!
After you rock that drill there is one more step in the development of your amazing ability to use your eyes.
After you rock that drill there is one more step in the confidence you are building as an amazing bunter.
After you rock that drill there is one more thing I need you to try that is crazier than using just the last 6 inches of the bat. I want you to hold the bat like you are pointing it at the pitcher and bunt the ball using the very end of it just like Lauren did in the video. Practice that until you get really comfortable then I want you to think about something. Think about the fact that you can drop down perfect bunts using nothing but the end of the bat when you using those tiny little eye balls the way you are using them.