Preparing yourself properly for live competition is vital in any sport you play. In baseball it is important to practice and train the right way. Proper preparation and practice will take your game to the next level, especially when it comes to hitting. Hitters must take numerous repetitions swinging the bat. This will allow them to develop the proper mechanics and maximize their potential as a hitter.
Let us take an inside look at 5 baseball hitting drills that are a must, when it comes time for practice and pre-game:
1. Tee work: Yes you read that correctly. Some may think that hitting a ball off of a tee is a foolish drill for an older more experienced player. In reality some of the MLB’s biggest superstars still prepare themselves by hitting off of a tee. When you hit off of a tee make sure to position it outside, middle, and inside of the hitting zone. Below is a detailed tee hitting schedule:
- Outside pitch: Low (10 reps), medium (10 reps), high (10 reps) (30 reps total): While working on the tee it is pivotal that you place the tee and ball in the proper position. With the outside pitch you want to place the tee deep in the hitting zone. Practicing how you would hit an outside pitch in a game: letting it get deep in the zone and taking it the other way.
- Middle pitch: Low (10 reps), medium (10 reps), high (10 reps) (30 reps total): Place the tee in the middle of the hitting zone. You want to make contact with the ball slightly in front of the plate, making sure your arms are fully extended. This is the type of pitch you’re looking to drive in a gap during a game.
- Inside pitch: Low (10 reps), medium (10 reps), high (10 reps) (30 reps total): While practicing hitting the inside pitch off of a tee you must start by placing the ball in the proper position. Place the tee and ball in front of the plate and on the far inner half. Practicing how you would hit an inside pitch during a live game: keeping your hands inside the ball and turning on it, driving it down the line or in a gap.
2. Soft toss: When soft tossing with a partner it is crucial to set up properly. Have the hitter set himself first, preferably using a plate at his feet so that he can have a point of reference on where to stand. Once the batter is situated, the soft tosser should angle themselves 45 degrees in front of the hitter in the opposite batter’s box.
- Bottom Hand: (10 reps): Grip the baseball bat with only your bottom hand. Choke up on the bat so your hand is positioned at the top of the bat grip. Then get into your stance and get ready to hit. When the ball is tossed at you, drive knob of the bat as the ball. This will allow the barrel of the bat to follow. Try to drive the ball on a line or solidly on the ground.
- Top Hand: (10 reps): Like you did in the bottom hand drill, place your top hand at the top of the bat grip. Make sure your wrist is cocked back so that the palm of your hand is facing the pitcher. Place your off hand on your back side shoulder/chest area. When the ball is tossed, drive the knob of the bat quickly at the ball. This will allow the barrel to properly swing through the zone. You want to consistently hit the ball on a line or hard on the ground up the middle.
- Two hands, regular: (20 reps): Get into your proper hitting position. Grip the bat with two hands, making sure your knuckles are lined up properly, your top hand is cocked facing the pitcher, and that your hands stay loose and relaxed while gripping the bat. When the ball is tossed take your regular hitting stride, make sure you practice getting your timing down. It’s key to get your front foot down and use your lower half while taking soft toss. Soft toss allows you to practice your rhythm and timing at the plate.
3. Front Toss: When front tossing, the one who is tossing should position themselves 7-10 feet away from the hitter behind a hitting screen. They should be directly in front of the hitter so when they toss the ball it closely simulates a live pitch. Here is a proper visual:
- Inside pitches: (15 reps): While taking front toss it is important to practice hitting both inside and outside pitches. Making sure you practice your timing and hitting the ball to the proper field. For hitting the inside pitch make sure you get your front foot down quickly, so that you can open your hips and turn on the ball. Driving it to the outfield.
- Outside pitches: (15 reps): When practicing hitting the outside pitch, remember to let the ball get deep in the hitting zone. As a hitter this allows you to see the ball longer and a better chance to drive the ball to the opposite field. Front toss is a great drill to practice hitting the outside pitch.
- Inside/outside: (15 reps): Now that you have practiced hitting both the inside and outside pitch, mix it up. This will allow you to simulate a more realistic in game scenario, not knowing if the pitcher is going to throw you inside or outside. Remember to try to hit the ball where the ball is placed, pulling the inside pitches and driving outside pitches the other way. If you can hit the balls to all fields you’ll be a tough out at the plate as a hitter.
4. Short Batting Practice:
- Short BP (20 reps): Now you’re ready to see some live pitching. Have your coach/hitting partner stand about 45 feet away from home plate. Making sure the pitcher is properly protected behind a screen, begin hitting. The pitcher should be throwing the ball about 75%. Working both the inside and outside part of the plate. Hitting from this close distance will allow the hitter to get his hands loose and timing down.
5. Long Batting Practice:
- Long BP (Take swings till comfortable): Now that you have properly warmed up, move the pitcher back to the proper 60 feet 6 inches. From this point the pitcher should be either throwing live off of the mound or throwing batting practice directly in front of the mound. As a hitter you want to continue the same type of hitting habits that you exhibited in your warm up drills. This drill will closest resemble a live in game scenario. Take as many swings as you want, you should hit until you feel comfortable at the plate. You might take multiple rounds, but once you feel comfortable you should stop. You are now ready to hit live pitching.
These 5 hitting drills will allow you to become a more complete baseball player. When practicing the art of hitting it is important to have a coach or teammate there to watch and critique you. Hitting with a partner is always a lot more fun and a lot more helpful. If you’re looking for a hitting partner/coach check out some of our coaches!