At almost every clinic we host, we’re asked about the 5-6 hole. Slappers want to know: “How do I hit it there?”
Here's the thing: We don’t think slappers should TRY to hit the ball to the 5-6 hole. And this is why: The 5-6 hole is the smallest hole on the field, between arguably the two best fielders. It’s like threading a needle.
We talk all the time about pitchers trying to be too perfect, too fine. Aiming for the 5-6 hole is the slapper equivalent.
So, where SHOULD slappers try to hit the ball on a soft slap?
That’s first. We need to get on top. One of our high school travel ball coaches had a saying: “What do you call a slapper that hits the ball in the air?” A pinch runner.
Two bounces in front of any infielder (except maybe the pitcher), and slappers have a good chance of being safe. A 10-foot high bounce that the defense has to sit and wait under? See you at first base. We need to allow our speed to work for us by making the defense make a play.
Now that we've got the "on top" mentality down, think left side. Even though we’ve seen countless examples of slappers be safe on two-hoppers or high-hoppers to second basemen, ideally the left side where we give ourselves the MOST time to get to first base. Best way to hit it to the left side? See it deep. Let your contact point dictate your location. Not YOU.
Now slappers, listen up: There will be times when you hit the ball right at people. We all do. But that’s not a reason to try to perfectly place the ball through the short stop and the third baseman. That's a "trying to avoid failure" mentality. (What happens when you're trying not to strike out?)
It is, however, a reason to get on top. YOUR advantage is that you can hit the ball right at somebody, but if it’s got some bounce with it, you’ve still got a chance to be safe.