For many ballplayers, fielding practice is not a fun go. So why do coaches use a fungo bat?
There are a few possible ways the word “fungo” came to be used in baseball:
• Old English “fonge,” which meant to catch.
• German “fungen,” to catch.
• Scottish “fung,” to pitch, toss or fling.
• An old street baseball game in which the hitter would toss the ball and hit it, and on each hit yell "one goes, two goes..." and if someone caught it on a fly the hitter would yell "fun go" and be replaced by the person who made the catch.
• "Fungoble," which meant something that could be substituted for something else, and came to be the name of the game in which a special bat was substituted for a regular bat.
No matter where the word comes from, coaches can put the fun in fielding practice by following these fungo tips:
1. Choose a bat for your needs. Fungo bats are lighter than regular baseball bats and come in composite, aluminum and wood varieties. The idea is to find a bat that you can swing repeatedly without getting tired. In addition, pick one with a comfortable grip to avoid blisters.
2. Place your bat on your back shoulder and toss the baseball up with your front hand. Toss the ball high and far enough away from the body so you don't get jammed. Grab the handle with your free hand bringing the bat back a few inches. Hit fly balls at shoulder level, grounders at chest level and line drives at waist level.
3. See the baseball as being divided horizontally. During practice, aim at the lower half whenever you want to add some loft to your fly balls. Conversely, aim at the top of the baseball when hitting grounders.
4. Let the bat do all of the work and relax when hitting. As a coach, you know how tension can negatively influence performance. To be consistent, your swing should be confident and free of tension.
5. Perfect your swing. Hit each ball with purpose and visualize where you would like it to go or gather some players after practice for extra work. The more you hit, the better your fungos will be.
Rawlings carries three fungo bats
• Performance Alloy -14 Fungo Bat (model number CF4
• Composite Wood -15 Fungo Bat (model number 114MPC
• Professional Wood Fungo Bat (model number 114AP
or contact a Rawlings Gear Customer Care representative at (866) 678-GEAR(4327) for more information on fungo bats