Hi, this is my first season coaching JV baseball at a high school near my college. I have a long time background in baseball and was a pretty decent player myself.
But coaching is another game and im struggling with the FUNGO bat!!!
I not too bad with grounders but the head coach wants me to hit outfield. I can hit about one good fly out of 10 hits! I need some help. I tend to hit line drive grounders and i cant seem to get the ball up in the air.
I do have a wood fungo i just need some tips on how to get it working right.
I would say to make sure you are throwing the ball up and away from your body. When I first started hitting fungos, I used to do the same as you. Then I realised I was keeping the ball to close to my body. Maybe give that a try. And as TR said....PRACTICE...PRACTICE...PRACTICE.
Practice will obviously help you. The fly ball racket is a great tool for hitting fly balls. You can sky them easily and place them as well. Plus it wont beat you down like hitting a couple hundred a day like we do. Baseball Express sells one and it is great. Good Luck
Here are the 4 key points that helped me when I was learning to hit fly balls with the fungo. While these seem simple, they seemed to be what I was initially doing wrong.
1) Swing with both hands. I tend to release the top hand and hit line drives. 2) Don't try to overpower the ball. Let the long bat and a smooth swing do the work. 3) Make sure that the path of the bat matches the desired trajectory of the ball - hit the center of the ball with an uppercut. 4) Relax - you can't perform if you are stiff. You are being watched and can show your team how you overcome adversity or worse how you let it drag you down.
Lastly, in my opinion, you have to use a fungo bat for ages above 12 for routine fielding practice. So keep practicing. Good luck.
I ask you to reread your post directed to me, and ask if this looks like the work of a gentleman with class or would it more closely resemble the work of a fool?
Coach May also made a suggestion that he try using a “fly ball racket”. How foolish and petty would I have looked if I would have used your words against him, ‘He wants to know how to use the fungo to make it work in a positive vein--get real I guess you cant use a fungo either!!!!”.
I would never do so. In fact I think Coach May gave a creative solution similar to the one I volunteered of suggesting CoachG try using a regular bat at least until he becomes proficient at using a fungo.
TR, if you are going to follow me around this site and attack me, then do so with sound ideas and be prepared to intelligently defend them. To do less than that, risks your credibility in areas where your knowledge can really help players.
1. Use two hands. The quickest way to tell everyone that you have never coached on a high level is to hit pre game infield/outfield using only one hand.
2. Hitting infield fungo’s. If you are right handed, place your bat on your right shoulder as you toss the ball up with your left hand. Toss the ball “hat high” then grab the handle as you take it back (toward the umpire) 2- 3 inches. Contact “ground balls” near chest level, “fly balls” near shoulder level and “line drives” near waist level.
3. Hitting outfield fungo’s. A high school coach and up must consistently hit routine grounders, hard grounders (to be charged), line drives (to be charged), fly balls to be tracked and routine fly balls (caught with momentum toward the throwing target.
4. Hitting fungo’s to the catcher. A coach must have a limber back. I recommend using the hard foam (Atec/Nerf) balls to hit “elevator shaft” pop-ups during practice. These are useful in teaching catchers how pop-ups always spin toward the field. Toss these a little higher and hit them just above shoulder/head height.
5. Keep hands inside the ball (pull the knob) until the last possible moment. The best fungo hitters maintain the “L” angle (created by the lead arm and bat) as long as possible. They break their wrists to hit the ball very late.
6. Finish with back shoulder higher than front shoulder regardless of whether you are hitting ground balls, line drives or fly balls.
7. Call the play that you want them to make so you can monitor their technique. Teach them that it’s perfectly OK (almost preferred) to make errors in practice. It is a training ground. Games are for show casing skills learned during practice.
8. Practice. Remember “practice does not make perfect, only perfect practice makes perfect”-Johnny Majors. This applies to fungo coaches as well. What’s stopping you from practicing on your own. Hit an entire bucket to the fence then walk out and hit them all back.
9. Take good care of your hands (your players are depending on many reps). Wear batting gloves (only when your hitting) (two pair if you have soft skin) during all practices. At night, soak in a hot bath (with Epsom salt) if you are old like me.
10. Lead by example. If you expect your players to get dirty (and sweaty), then you should too. I saw a high school JV coach once that wouldn’t wear a hat or hit pre game infield/outfield because he “had a date after the game”.
11. Don’t be overly superstitious. I saw another Varsity high school coach decline to take pre game infield during an entire 7 game win streak because “it was bad luck”. He honestly convinced himself (and his players) that it would “jinx” them if they took infield. Sadly, this was over a 3 week span (25% of their season) so many of his 20 players got zero work. Fortunately, they lost the “8th game” by committing 6 errors. True to form, he screamed “what’s wrong with you guys?” more than a few times during that game.
12. Believe in a routine. A solid, consistent routine is comforting and allows coaches and players to remain focused (under pressure) on the task at hand. Pre game infield/outfield also sets the tone for the game. They will execute it better if they practice the routine often.
13. Know the difference between “bad breaks” and “bad luck”. Bad breaks (bad calls and errors) are a part of the game. Bad luck is not. “The more you practice, the luckier you’ll get”-Lee Trevino.
14. Traditional wood fungo bats are great. However, on 60/90 fields, coaches might want to think about investing in an aluminum fungo bat in order to get the outfielders more challenging work.
15. Teach your players how to hit fungos. You’d be amazed at the number of youth, high school and college players that can’t do this well.
16. This “self toss” increases bat speed and power better than long toss increases arm strength
CoachG, I learned this after I saw Dusty Baker and Bob Forsch (two of the best fungo hitters I've seen) hitting fungos. Don't try to power the ball. Swing easier and just flip the wrists. The whole idea of the fungo is to allow the length of the bat to do the work for you. Just hit a few about three quarter swing and concentrate on using your hands. Best of luck.
I personally like hitting with the wooden fungo bat. But my guys dont get balls off of wood in a game and I want them to react to the ting of the metal. If you keep hitting with the fungo you will master it eventually. It just takes some time thats all. Its not rocket science and you dont have to take hitting lessons. The more you use it the better you will be. Just hit them in practice everyday and you will be fine coach. Good Luck
CoachG, when you say that you struggle hitting outfield balls, I envision that you are trying to hit monster shots with your fielders standing near the fences. Move the players in and start with a comfortable swing. We actually start around 170 feet. We can control the trajectory while at the same time be able to effectively communicate with the players. Only after we have done breaks on flyballs in, back, left and right all based on "cone positions, do we then have them move back. Perhaps this will help.
For everyone else, we do a drill called "air raid." It is where 2 fungo balls are in the air at all times and our players begged for it. It requires 3 good fungo hitters and a lot of common sense. The "best" fungo hitter should go last.
The following is from a presentations I made on "Practicing fundamentals while having fun." Unfortunatly, I can't copy the diagram with it and so, you will have to use your imagination. I hope someone gets some benefit from this.
Air Raid is a great way to end practice with something that is fun while also challenging and conducive to winning. Naturally, as with any drill, competition makes the drill that much more fun. Each of my assistants as well as myself takes great pride in our abilities to hit “the perfect fungo ball!” We compete with each other during this drill. C1 starts the fun. Then the rotation moves from C1 to C2 and then finally, to C3. A bucket of balls is off to the side and a feeder (Yellow Circle), who is aware at all times that a ball could be hit in their area, keeps all of the coaches supplied with balls. The balls are returned to the other yellow areas, which typically are pitchers or anyone not participating in Air Raid. The Red Areas are the areas of danger. As a coach, you should be very aware when another coach has hit a ball into these areas to ensure that you allow the kids to make a play. So, the drill goes like this, C1 hits a ball to the left field side. While the ball is in the air, C2 hits a ball to the right field side. C3 then assess the situation. C3 can hit a ball to any area where it is safe. If the balls from C1 or C2 are on the infield, C3 can hit a popup to the catcher or a foul ball to 1st or 3rd. If C1 or C2 has hit an outfield ball, then C3 can hit to whichever infield side didn’t get a popup or hit a popup to the catcher. C3 is the pivotal Coach. He has to be able to keep it going but keep it safe. Should C3 hit a ball to shortstop, then, C1 now hits the balls to the right field side and C2 now hits to the left field side until you switch again due to a ball hit by C3. This is really confusing isn’t it? We want 2 balls in the air at all times! You should be able to do this. Please keep in mind. You want good fungo hitters doing this. If you have a kid hitting these fungos, they will top the ball and hit a line drive right between some kids eyes. Air Raid can also be done with 2 coaches. You simply alternate making sure that you keep the catchers supplied with some fungos. This will keep it safe.
One of the hardest tool to learn for a new coach....I learned from alex fernandez <ex marlin P > who had me hit them til I had blisters <haha> start, with your feet together. take short step w/ the right foot, then cross over with left and throw the ball in the air < high> and take a swing freely. dont try to aim it ...the ball will jump off the fungo and you'll be hitting < OF > PRE GAME LIKE THE PROS GOOD LUCK
One basic fundamental that has been left off is the type of swing and how the bat is making contact with the ball. It seems he is hitting the tophalf and or center of the ball when he not only needs to hit the bottom half but more importantly swing slightly downward in order to create backspin and get lift. Without back spin your ball is going to line-out on you and most likely, create top-spin thus creating the ball to loop hard as in tennis forehand returns causing downward tragectory. Most hitting instructors teach a slight downward swing with a finish up with both hands behind the front of the head. That is unless your a Ted Williams advocate which is more of a level approach.