ABCA Clinic Recaps - Dan Hartleb


Liam Carroll

The BBCOR Age.  The Return of the Short Game!
Developing the Bunting Game

Dan Hartleb – Head Coach, University of Illinois

Clinic Topics

1. Offensive changes in our game
2. Sacrifice Bunting
3. Bunting for a hit 3rd Base side
4. Bunting for a hit 1st Base side
5. Suicide Squeeze
6. Safety Squeeze
7. Slash

This was the second clinic of the convention that took its title from the most recent change in bat regulations in college baseball.  While previous regulations measured Ball Exit Speed Ratio (BESR), BBCOR measures trampoline effect.  Beyond my capacity for numbers, more information is here.  These changes have made the game safer for pitchers and scoring has declined.  In the 1990s, when bats had wider barrels and a -5 length-to-weight ratio, the term “gorilla ball” was used to describe the style of play.  In 1998 the score of the national championship game was 21-14.  In 2008 the score was 6-1 and last year it was 4-1.  With home runs harder to come by, many college coaches are relying on the short game more than they have in the past in order to score runs. 

While youth league rules here don’t have such strict bat regulations and adult leagues use wood, I think paying more attention to the short game is essential.  Home run hitters are a rare commodity in British baseball but even if you do have a guy or two who can jump ship there is still a place for Bunting.  In my opinion, every player should be able to execute a Sacrifice Bunt and some players should be able to bunt for a base hit, Slash and Squeeze.  If anything, it reinforces the saying that it’s better to have something you don’t need than need something you don’t have.  And how about coaching the short game to give your players more ways to have Quality At Bats and contribute to the team’s success?

Talking about these changes to college baseball, Coach Hartleb said that the first thing coaches need to do is decide on the way they are going to advance and score runners.  How runners move from base to base shouldn’t be an accident.  For the teams who are able to practice often there’s almost no need to give signs because players will know what to do based on the situation and their team’s system.  Choosing your system can of course include your own style preference but must also consider personnel.  No use relying on the home run if you have a bunch of guys with no pop.

Coach Hartleb outlined techniques for bunting in various situations.  A great key for how to hold the bat was to divide it into thirds.  In Sacrifice situations, while there is a preference on which direction to bunt (1st Base side with runner on 1st, 3rd Base side with runner on 2nd), he said it’s important for coaches and bunters to consider any weaknesses in the Infield.  He also said that you should know the surface, for example how fast or slow it plays and how the ball rolls close to the lines.

Ultimately, Coach Hartleb said that utilising the bunt in your offense can put more pressure on the defense.  You’ll force them to play catch (potentially in situations they don’t practice) and create holes in the field to hit through.

My Most Important Thing

As important as technique is to Bunting, buy-in is the most important thing.  If your players aren’t bought-in to executing a bunt their chance of success is reduced.  If you want your players to bunt then make sure they know how important it is to scoring runs.  A player who doesn’t know what to do won’t be confident (nor bought-in), so practice it.  One of the things I love about well-played baseball is the reaction of the dugout after a Sacrifice Bunt.  Greeting teammates at the top step of the dugout isn’t reserved for run-scorers; watch a well coached team and you’ll see the Bunter greeted with high fives with just as much appreciation as after a home run, which is another great way to create buy-in.

Last Up: Steve Trimper

On Deck: Darin Erstad


tagged under: baseball, coaching, softball, hitting, bunting

Back to blogs


About Liam Carroll

Liam Carroll

Liam was a Regional Coach and then Development Coordinator for BaseballSoftballUK until May 2014. He returned to his hometown of London to work for BSUK in 2010 after stops in Somerset, Bristol, Cornwall, California and Nevada. Growing up playing in Britain, Liam made the move to America to study and play university baseball. After figuring out that his future would be brighter as a coach rather than player, he moved to the University of Nevada Las Vegas to finish his degree and coach college baseball. Since then he’s coached youth and adult teams on both sides of the atlantic and with the Great Britain Baseball National Teams.

Subscribe RSS

Tag cloud

Get in the Game

Sign-up with the BSF to PLAY SOFTBALL

Hot Corner Signup Form
Advertise with us 468px
Follow Us