Baseball Magazine

The Push-bunt (Part 2)

By Meachrm @BaseballBTYard
The push-bunt (Part 2)In Part 1 of the push-bunt, I talked about the value of a push-bunt for right handed hitters over a traditional base hit bunt down towards third base.  Today I list and explain the mechanics of the push-bunt so that players can do it more effectively.

Before getting into any of the specifics of how to push-bunt, let's first talk about the ultimate goal.  On a push-bunt, the goal is for the ball to be bunted in a location that splits the first baseman and the pitcher.  If bunted well, the pitcher and the first baseman will both go for the ball and nobody is able to cover first base.  The middle photo shows the splitting of the pitcher and the first baseman.  It helps even more if there is a lefty on the mound, especially if he is one who falls to the third base side on his follow through.  This will make it harder for him to get to the bunt and/or cover first base.  The push-bunt can also be used as a "safety squeeze" when the first baseman plays back with a runner on third base.  Instead of taking off before the ball is bunted on a normal squeeze bunt, the runner waits to see if the ball gets on the ground hard enough.  If the runner sees a well placed bunt, he then takes off towards home plate.
To push-bunt in any situation, follow these tips.
The push-bunt (Part 2)Front shoulder closed.  This is a good tip for any batter who wants to base hit bunt regardless of where he wants to bunt the ball.  As soon as the batter opens his front shoulder even a little, everyone yells "BUNT!"  Keeping the front shoulder closed as long as possible keeps the element of surprise intact a bit longer.

The push-bunt (Part 2)Angle the shoulders / bat.  If the goal is to split the first baseman and the pitcher with the bunt, the batter needs to angle his shoulders so that they are perpendicular to the line of the bunted ball.  You'll see this in the top and bottom photos.  The batter is attempting to bunt the ball between the fielders so his shoulders are squared up to that line.  If his shoulders were squared to the pitcher, he'd be more likely to bunt it right back to the pitcher.  If his shoulders were squared to the first base line, he'd be more likely to bunt it right at the first baseman.  Bunt it between the two so angle your shoulders so they square up to where you want the ball to go.  The angle of the bat should be the same as the shoulders - also seen in the top and bottom photos.

Move forward to bunt.  You'll notice in the top and bottom photos that both batters are moving into the pitch as they bunt.  This is important because the batter will get down the line much faster if he can do this as opposed to bunting it standing still and then having to take off running.  This becomes much easier to do if the pitch in on the outer half.  However, the hitter needs to time it so that he can accomplish this even on an inside pitch.  Some batters get a little anxious and move forward too fast before seeing where the pitch is located.  An inside pitch really ties them up making it extremely difficult to bunt towards first.  Time it correctly and always move forward to bunt.
Bunt it hard.  Again, the goal is to bunt the ball directly in-between the pitcher and the first baseman.  If the ball is bunted too softly, the first baseman will stay put and the pitcher will just come off the mound and field it.  That's usually an easy out.  The ball has to be hit hard enough for the pitcher not to be able to cut it off and hard enough for the first baseman to think that he has to leave the base to go get it.  Both try for it and nobody is there to cover first base.  If left untouched, a push-bunt should be able to reach the infield dirt.  To practice this, place a helmet directly between the pitching rubber and first base where the edge of the infield grass meets to dirt.  Practice bunting the ball so that it rolls all the way to the helmet.
Although not used very often, the push-bunt can be a very valuable weapon for the right handed batter.

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