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  Tips & Drills  
   
  Hitting
   
  BAT SPEED
 

Put a weighted donut on your regular baseball bat and hit eight baseballs.(overload)

Hit eight baseballs with a fungo bat. (underload)

Hit eight baseballs with your regular bat.

I conduct this drill in a soft toss situation and do 2 sets 2-3 times a week. Over the course of 4 to 6 weeks you should see a positive increase in bat speed.

   
  LEAD AND FOLLOW HAND SWINGS
 

Purpose: The lead hand swings allow a hitter to establish proper timing and power with the lead side of the body, giving the hitter proper contact with the ball. The follow hand swings establish the feeling of throwing the bat at the ball.

Procedure: Hit off a tee, imaginary ball, or soft-toss. When executing swings with the lead hand, you should concentrate on keep the hand above the plane of the ball. If the lead hand drops under a pop out, strike out, or fly out will usually occur. The hitter must also turn the hips quickly for proper timing and power. The lead elbow should not extend fully before contact with the ball, since that will promote a slow bat due to an excess of arm arc in the swing. By concentrating on keeping the lead hand on top of the ball and turning the hips quickly, a hitter can establish proper timing and power with the lead side of the body. The lead hand/follow hand action creates timing and power. Both hands should snap straight into the ball precisely the same instant. This will help you establish proper bat speed and control.

One Handed Bunting--Players get into groups of 3 or 4 for max bunts. The drill is to grip the bat with the top hand at the balance point of the bat, then bunt that way. All the things you try to teach such as grip, bat angle, 'catch the ball with the bat', etc. happen naturally just by bunting one handed. It is a simple finishing job to add the bottom hand to steer the ball, and leads easily into drag and push bunts.

A few minutes of practice gives lots of skill and leaves that much more time to HIT.

PITCH BEHIND

The timid little-league batter always seems to assume that backing out or stepping out toward third base will automatically prevent him from being hit by the pitch. You might notice that he starts his getaway before he has any notion of where the pitch is really headed. I have had some success against this tendency by throwing behind the timid batter's back. After all, he will get plenty of these pitches at the little league level, and you don't want him backing into them, getting hurt, and becoming even more afraid.

If the habit is deeply ingrained, you might want to start out with tennis balls. You can also start by throwing a lot of pitches behind him, then gradually decrease the frequency of these pitches as he starts to break the habit. Soon he will realize that he had better not back up until he sees where the ball is really going. This will make him much safer at the plate, which will appeal to the timid batter right away. And while he's watching the ball more closely, he's going to realize that he doesn't have to hide from the good pitches, but can stay put and hit them instead. I have seen it work!

Another simple drill I use with these hitters is to have them stand-in at the plate and take short practice steps in the proper direction (toward the pitcher), over and over again. If he's very timid, tell him to think about stepping toward the second baseman (or the shortstop, for lefties). In his fear, he will adjust his step back to the middle, which is where you wanted it in the first place. After 15 or 20 reps, we resume pitching to him. Admittedly, this won't work miracles in the worst cases, but sometimes it's enough of a push to get a player hitting.

Another thing: Sometimes you're using a drill for a pitcher and a catcher, and you just need a batter to stand in without swinging (maybe you're getting a new pitcher gradually used to the idea of pitching to a batter, or getting a new catcher used to the idea of having that bat swinging around in his peripheral vision). At these times, choose one of your more timid kids to stand in, and have him concentrate on watching the pitch closely all the way. This gives him a chance to practice this without the pressure of trying to hit the ball

T-DRILL

You will need to pair off your players for this drill .To set up this drill, put the batting tee on top of home plate. Using home plate will allow your player to get a comfortable feel for being at the plate and not the tee. One player puts the ball on the tee the other hits it. It is a good idea to move the tee around home plate so that your players get used to hitting the ball from different pitches. This drill helps develop the skill for good contact with the ball. Make sure the hitters concentrate on contact and watch the ball as they swing

  Infield
  FUNGO
 

Purpose: To provide players with an opportunity to field a large number of ground balls.

Procedure: Drill has one fielder, who is 60 feet in front of hitter, and one shagger, who stands on the right side of the hitter. (Three person groups.) Drill can have as many groups as desired.

The hitter hits 10 ground balls to the player. After fielding the 10 ground balls, the player becomes the shagger, the shagger becomes the hitter, and the hitter becomes the new fielder. The drill continues to proceed in this manner for as long as desired

COUNTDOWN
This is a fun drill to help the 1st and 2nd graders I coach develop good hands, quick release, and hustle to a loose ball. I have the players line up accross from a partner about 20 feet apart. They are to make good throws back and forth as many times an they can while I count down from 30 to zero. The player who does not have the ball at zero wins. (Winning usually puts you in the first group for batting practice.) You should see the kids scramble for a dropped, or passed ball. Baseball is fun. Let's make practice fun too.

   
  Pitching
   
  PIVOT KNEE
  Many young pitchers hold their glove at their shoulder during the pitch and do not properly rotate at the shoulders. In order to promote proper rotation of the shoulders, I have my pitchers kneel on their pivot knee(right knee if you are right handed) with left leg extended. Hands are in the gathered position and the ball is thrown at half speed to a catcher. I look for full follow thru with the pitching hand ending up outside the left calf and the left hand rotates to take the glove behind and try to touch the numbers
   
  EYE CONTACT WHILE PITCHING
 

To help a young pitcher maintain better eye contact with his catcher, he should not bring his hands and arms up over his head when starting his wind up. This blocks his vision twice and serves no purpose. Have young pitchers bring their hands up to their chest instead. Remember, it doesn't matter how far over his head a pitcher raises his arms up, he still has to bring them down. Don't waste the motion

Throwing

5 STAR
5 Star Throwing Drill Place players in five separate groups that form an upside down pentagon. X2 X5 X4 X3 X1 X1 has the baseball, throws it to X2 and follows his throw. X2 throws the ball to X3 and follows his throw. X3 throws the ball to X4 and follows his throw. X4 throws the ball to X5 and follows his throw. X5 throws the ball to X1 line and follows his throw. This drill can be run inside or out and at any distance. We shorten the distance to work on quick hands and lengthen the distance to provide long throwing for our players.

I like this drill because it forces the players to follow their throw. By doing this we have found the players are more likely to make a correct throwing motion and step directly at their target. We have noticed that in drills which require a player to return to the end of their line after making a throw the player tends to be in a hurry to go in an opposite direction of their throw which screws up extension and follow through. ( Thanks for the great info from other coaches and to Coach Brabant for putting this page together!) When we shorten the throwing I have the players about 10 feet apart. We extend it as far as 200 feet outside. This also serves as a good conditioner. One important detail about the drill after a player throws the ball to another line he should follow his throw to the outside to avoid getting hit by the next thrown ball.

8-BALL
Our throwing drill that we use is called the "8-Ball Drill". It is divided into eight steps:

1) Player stands shoulder width apart, puts throwing arm up at 90 degree angle, holds elbow with glove, and throws ball to partner using just his wrist action.

2) Player sits with legs spread and has arm in same position, only this time he can use from his elbow up and throws the ball to his partner.

3) Player remains sitting, only now he can rotate his hips and turn his upper torso to throw the ball. Follow through is not necessary yet. There is an emphasis on using the glove arm or elbow to direct throw.

4) Player now goes to one knee. He rotates his hips and upper torso and throws the ball, only now he puts the emphasis on following through across his knee, which is raised.

5) Player now stands with glove arm closest to partner, and feet shoulder width apart. Using all of the above steps, he throws the ball concentrating on follow through, only he cannot move his feet.

6) Player now goes to the post position as in pitching, and throws the ball using the above steps. Emphasis in this step is balance at the post position.

7) Player now uses all the steps above, crow hops and throws the ball to his partner. Emphasis in this step is on proper technique of the crow hop.

8) Finally, the last step is long toss. Additionally, we add playing quick toss to the last step, primarily intended for the benefit of the infielders. They stand about 10 feet apart and toss the ball to each other as quickly as they can for one minute. You can even keep track of the number of catches to turn this into a competition. Emphasis here is on a quick release and concentrating on the ball entering and leaving the glove (transferring).

   
 
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