If you are a Little League coach, watching your team get a home run is quite a delight.
But it's easier said than done, right?
Teaching kids the proper technique and psychology to learn how to bat properly can be a challenge but hitting drill can help their overall performance. For one, they are still developing physically. Their muscles and body structures are often changing, making it hard for them to feel like they can consistently swing a bat the same way every time they get to the plate. Fortunately, we've got some great hitting drills for you to use with your Little Leauge team that are fun and will improve your teams batting skills.
Sound interesting? Read on to find out more.
Sure, every kid loves the chance to step up to the plate and practice hitting balls. And traditional batting practice has consisted of primarily that. The coach, or another player, throw pitch after pitch to each kid. And by way of repetition and getting accustomed to balls flying towards them, they slowly learn how to quickly respond and make contact with the ball. When players start hitting the ball more, they also start having more fun. And that's really what they are here for, right?
Now, we're not saying batting practice is bad, or that it's not necessary. There's always going to be positives for your players in seeing pitches in real time and trying to hit them. But batting practice is only one of many hitting drills you can run your players through. Here are a few of our favorite hitting drills that will jump-start your team's hitting prowess!
Hitting off of a tee might seem like something players stop doing once they are old enough to have pitches thrown at them. But hitting off of a tee can actually be valuable for hitters of all levels and ages. For more novice players, it's great for flattening out their swing and helping them feel what it's like making solid contact. For more advanced hitters, it's a chance for coaches and batters to look at each aspect of the batter's swing. The ball stays at the same spot, so the only variables are what the batter is doing as they swing through. For this drill, place the tee on home plate. Have a batter step into the box. Then have them place their feet together, but with slightly more pressure on their back foot for balance. Then have them swing through the ball and make contact. You can look at their swing to see if there are holes or inconsistencies.
This is a timing drill. You start by placing a small object somewhere on the field. It can be a glove, another ball, or even the lid of a cup. Then, either toss or pitch the ball towards the batter. Their goal will be to hit the ball before it passes the mark in their vision. This forces players to get out in front of pitches, making contact in front of the plate instead of letting the ball jam them up. And if they start doing well with this exercise (i.e. hitting ball after ball into the third base dugout) then move the object closer to the batter.
The next drill is one that involves two different colored Wiffle balls. (If you don't have two colors, use spray paint on a standard white Wiffle ball.) Have the batter stand at the plate. You stand across the plate from them with both Wiffle balls in hand. You toss them both Wiffle balls, but when they are in the air towards the plate, you call out one of the two colors. That's the color of the ball they need to it with their swing. And they need to avoid hitting the other ball, if possible. This drill teaches them ball vision and hones their focus so that they are really concentrating on which ball they are supposed to hit.
It's great for learning how to hit pitches that break or have any movement on them. Which can only help drive their batting average up, right?
Hitting to the opposite field is an important skill for batters to have. In this drill, you set up at least a handful of players in the field. They should all be on one side. So, for a left-handed batter, make sure to have at least a second baseman, a shortstop, a center fielder, and a left fielder. Then stand to the side of the batter and toss him balls. They get to keep batting as long as the ball goes to the opposite field. If they pull the ball at all, they are 'out' and the next batter rotates through.
Finally, this drill goes outside the norm of the usual hitting drills. You'll need a heavy bag (a.k.a. a punching bag that boxers use). Have the batters take full speed swings at the center of the bag. The trick here is to make sure they are making solid contact with the bag and to make sure their follow through is through the mass of the bag. In other words, they should hit the bag with their bat, and the bat should stay in contact with the bag. They shouldn't ever have their bat recoil back. This ensures that each batter is following through with power. It helps improve torque and get more strength in their hands. Together, those translate to power hitting.
These are five great hitting drills, but there are tons more out there that can be valuable to hitters of all ages and skill levels. If your team gets a little tired of these five, switch it up and try a different five.
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