Hitting may be the most frustrating skill in baseball. On a professional level, if you succeed 30% of the time, you are considered an all-star.
Fundamentals are the foundation of any sport, but that is especially true with the specialty of hitting. While it won’t guarantee success, hitting drills will help players hone their skills and hopefully see success.
As with any drill or practice scenario, coaches must make safety guidelines clear and understandable for players. Always have a safety plan and ensure that players use proper equipment. Any time a player swings a bat, there is a potential for accidental injury. Make sure that players have situational awareness and are safe.
- Hitting is one of the most difficult skills to master in baseball.
- Proper drills and technique can help players improve their hitting skills.
- Soft toss, hitting off a tee, bunting into cones, hitting a tire, and broomstick practice are all great drills to help improve hitting.
- Always keep safety in mind when practicing any sort of drill or technique.
Soft toss is one of the most basic drills that you will find on any baseball diamond. There are many ways that this drill can be done and adjusted to fit the needs of any team.
The most basic example of a soft toss is when you have a player hitting into a net. A coach or teammate sits opposite the batter and tosses the ball into the strike zone. The person tossing the ball must be far enough away that they do not come into contact with the bat and are out of range of the ball once it is hit.
The ball can be tossed in different quadrants of the strike zone. This can allow the batter to adjust to pitches in all parts of the zone.
Perhaps a more advanced version of the soft toss is when the tosser sits behind the batter. Think of a toss coming from the same area as the home plate umpire. Again, the tosses can cover all of the areas of the strike zone.
Soft toss is a great opportunity for a batter to work on their footwork, hands, and transition of weight during a swing. The focus is not on where the ball goes or how far it is hit but on the fundamentals.
Hitting off the tee
A batting tee is an excellent investment for any team. Whether you have a batting cage or not, a tee can be used. You can use the tee in a cage for reps. You can use a tee on a screen. You can use a tee on the field.
Moving the tee up and down can teach hitters to adjust to pitches at different levels in the zone. You can also move the tee onto a box to teach hitters, especially in a hit-and-run situation, how to swing at pitches up and out of the zone.
You can also move the tee down the middle, inside, or outside of the zone. Hitting off a tee can truly help players move their hands through the zone appropriately. It can also help players adjust how they hold their elbows and shoulders through a swing in different parts of the zone.
If you have more than one tee, you can set up stations and rotate groups. Allowing players to get multiple reps in on each station can help build muscle memory.
Bunting into cones
Bunting is a skill that every player on your roster should have. If you can bunt any time with any player, you offer yourself a greater opportunity to manufacture runs.
It’s not enough to get a bunt down. Players who can place bunts in specific spots can advance runners and avoid getting caught in double plays.
A simple drill is to set cones up on the first base side and third base side as targets for batters. Whether you use live pitching or a pitching machine, allow players to lay down 10 to 20 bunts. You can offer points for each successful bunt.
As players’ abilities progress, you can narrow the targets. You could also call out specific sides before the pitch.
This drill is an important one to make time for. It doesn’t have to take up much space or time, but give your players reps with this drill.
Hitting a tire
One of the ways that you can increase strength and speed in swings is by having players hit a tire. There are drills for tires of all sizes.
An average car tire can be mounted and used by players. Again, this is a quick one that can be used for reps in a rotation.
Players should practice taking swings on the tread of the tire. They should take their time with the swing and use good form. Players should be cautious that they don’t catch the backswing of the tire.
Batters should start with slower swings and then gradually move into harder swings. Keep the reps at 10-20. Remind players to be safe in the area.
Keep in mind that tires could be damaging to bats. It might be beneficial to have a used/retired bat dedicated to this station. Do not let players use their good bats on a tire.
This is a simple drill that can be done indoors or outdoors, at home, or with the team.
Get a broomstick (or a wooden rod about the same shape). The broomstick should be cut to the same length as the bat that a player uses. In addition, you will need tennis balls, wiffle balls, and/or golf-sized wiffle balls.
The goal of this drill is simply to get the players to hit using the sweet spot of the bat. It is a great hand-eye coordination drill.
Start with the tennis ball. Throw 10-15 pitches to the batter. Have the batter try to make contact using the broomstick. If the batter is hitting the ball well and consistently, you can switch to a wiffle ball.
The challenge of the wiffle ball is that it is going to move a bit more. The goal is to make solid contact. If the batter does well with the wiffle ball, you can move to the golf ball-sized wiffle ball.
Be sure to take safety precautions with the broomsticks. It might be good to tape the handle or cut grooves into it, so there is more of a grip. Be sure to hit in a location that is safe and where property can’t be damaged.
Remember, the goal of this exercise is to work on hand-eye coordination and get batters to hit with the sweet spot of a bat. Doing this drill before actual batting practice or a soft toss can be beneficial.
Hitting is hard. If you are a coach, build your players up and remind them to focus on the fundamentals. Some techniques can be practiced at home to increase muscle memory, strength, and bat speed.
As always, when you make your practice plans, be sure to keep safety in mind. Make certain players are properly equipped, and safety expectations are communicated clearly.
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