Objective: A hitter must create resistance on the front side so that the hands can move quickly to the ball. The same applies in pitching. A pitcher must create front side (stride leg) resistance in the order for the throwing arm to move quickly through the windmill motion. The purpose of the leap series is to allow an athlete to feel what it is to create front side resistance in pitching.
Drill: The leap series consists of 3 drills:
(1) leap and stick: the pitcher starts in a balanced position on her dominant side (push/drag leg) foot. With the opposite leg (stride leg) off the ground, the pitcher leaps out (not up!), from the push/drag foot, and lands on the stride leg foot. The landing should be on the ball of the foot and held for 5 sec.
(2) leap and hop: the pitcher starts in a balanced position on her dominant side (push/drag leg) foot. With the opposite leg (stride leg) off the ground, the pitcher leaps out (not up!), from the push/drag foot, lands on the stride leg foot and then immediately hops straight up and lands again on the stride foot. The landings should be on the ball of the foot and the hop does not need to be high but does need to be quick.
(3) leap and push back: the pitcher starts in a balanced position on her dominant side (push/drag leg) foot. With the opposite leg (stride leg) off the ground, the pitcher leaps out (not up!), from the push/drag foot, lands on the stride foot, and then immediately hops back to the push/drag foot. The landings should be on the ball of the foot and the hop backward does not need to be long but does need to be quick.
Each of the three drills should be repeated 3 times and followed by 2 fastballs in order to transfer the feel of the drill to the pitch.
|Sherry Werner Ph’D is currently a biomechanics consultant with Ben Hogan Sports Medicine, TMI Sports Medicine, and Tulane Institute of Sports Medicine, and a pitching instructor at the Sherry Werner Fastpitch Academy. She has held research positions at the United States Olympic Training Center. She received a MS degree in Biomechanics from Indiana University in 1989 and a PhD in Biomechanics from The Pennsylvania State University in 1995. She was selected to the COSIDA Academic All-American Softball Team while earning a bachelors degree from Slippery Rock University.
Objective: To react quickly to balls thrown to first base by infielders and becoming confident in fielding bad throws.
Set-Up: First baseman sets up in her ready position with a coach/teammate throwing the ball from different positions. The first baseman would drop step with her right foot (chest open to the field) and run back to get to the base, putting her foot on the middle of the inside of the base. The foot placed on the bag should be the left foot for left handed first basemen and the right foot for the right handed players.
Drill: The coach would throw the ball starting from behind the pitcher’s mound once the player gets her foot on the bag and turns open to receive the ball. The ball can be thrown to the player’s left and right. Many times players stretch too soon and don’t step toward the ball. Wherever the ball is thrown, the arm and glove extends as well as the leg on that side of the body (glove side) straight toward the ball. The first baseman wants to get comfortable getting set quickly and stepping to the ball as soon as it leaves the hand of the person throwing it, making sure to step straight in line with where the ball is going. When the ball is not too far to either side and is more in front of the body, the first baseman wants to get as much as a stretch as possible, making sure to keep the back foot on the bag during the stretch. The coach can move all around the field doing this drill, throwing the ball hard and soft, and starting closer and further from different positions.
PHASE 2: Working on balls that bounce before reaching the bag:
To get a player’s confidence up at first base on bad throws, start out by throwing
long bounces to first base. Once the player recognizes that the ball is going to be low and bounce, she should wait to step and react as she sees where the ball is going to bounce. The first baseman needs to keep her head down and glove open and scoop the ball. We need to remind the first baseman to try to catch the ball on a long hop or to go reach for it and make it a short hop. If it bounces 5 or more feet away, we should not step out, but should read the long hop and field the ball. If it is closer on the hop, we need to extend our glove foot out as far as possible and try to keep the glove on the inside of your leg (not outside of your body). Fingers will be down to the ground and you want to reach forward as you scoop the ball. The coach can throw long and short hops, giving the first baseman a chance to read the ball. The coach should only start to throw the ball hard when the player has success on easier bounces. Confidence will build success. Our goal is to help our first basemen to become a wall at first base, not letting anything get by them.
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Objective: Teach communication and aggressive defense in the outfield.
Set-Up: Have 2 outfielders side by side in the outfield, preferably in left center and right center. Have a coach set up to hit balls from the plate.
PHASE 1: The first ball hit, should be for the defender in right field. This ball is going to be hit towards left center and will force her to sprint hard after it, not allowing it to hit the ground. Her second outfielder’s job is loud communication to help her with ball judgement. The next ball will be hit towards right center for the left fielder to defend. Same principle here.
PHASE 2: Hit balls in the middle of the two defenders, now knowing that they both have the range to get to it. The two athletes are to communicate loud with one another to safely and successfully finish the play by making the catch. When finish with this phase of the drill, you can rotate other athletes in for the same drill.
To make the drill harder, make the gap between the 2 defenders wider, while keeping it in perspective how much ground each defender should be able to cover. You can also implement diving with this drill, to emphasize that no balls should hit the ground with out maximal effort exhibited.
This drill is an effective way to gain strength for quick movements, speed, and endurance.
This drill will require a 2 foot high box that is sturdy enough for you to jump on
The catcher will stand behind the box and another player will stand 2 feet in front of the box with a ball.
The player will toss the ball high and directly above the box.
When the player releases the box the catcher explodes up to land on top of the box and catches the ball.
Make 10 jumps and then rotate.
This drill is an great way to ensure that when a drop third strike occurs in a game that the catcher know what to do and can execute the play efficiently.
Create a game like situation when the batter swings and the ball drops to the dirt first.
The batter will take off to first base and the catcher must find the ball and throw the ball to first base before the batter reaches the bag.
This drill is an effective way to encourage catchers to make their own observations and gain experience in calling pitches that will benefit the team.
The coach will give all of the catchers the task of observing a select few of their teammates when they are batting without them knowing.
At the end of practice the coach will take note of each of the catchers observations.
The catchers will then meet with the coach together and discuss what would be the best approach to dealing with the batters that were observed in a game situation.
Do this once a week and chance the batters to be observed each week.
This drill is great for working on plays that often occur in games as well as building a catchers value and skills in the sport.
When there are no runners on base and the play is being made at home plate the catcher should always be ready to back up the throw to 1st base.
As soon as the hit is made the catcher should judge where the ball will be stopped and if that ball is going to be thrown to first base then the catcher should flip off her mask and head over to first base just in the case that a wild throw is made.
Too often do teams get an extra base from wild throws.
The catcher should always make backing up throws to 1st base a habit in those situations.
This drill is a great way maximize power in a batters swing
This drill requires a punching bag (about $45 dollars at any sporting goods store) and somewhere to hang it.
Batters will take their stance with the punching bag slightly in line with the batters front foot.
The batter will swing, make contact with the bag, and then proceed to follow through with their extension pushing the bag.
The batter can adjust where she stands and makes contact with the bag depending on what pitch she would like to work on.
This is a fun drill to increase a batters concentration and test their muscle memory.
Set up a tee
The batter will hit 5 balls and then put on a blindfold to attempt to hit 5 more balls.
Remove the blind fold and move to position the tee in the location to where another pitch would be
The batter will hit 5 balls and then put the blindfold on again and attempt to hit 5 more balls.
You can split the players into 2 teams and the players that get the most hits when blindfolded will win
This is great for loosening up players before big games and great for team bonding
This drill is an effective way to create proper muscle memory and gain strength in your bottom hand when hitting.
The batter will use a 5-10 pound dumbbell (depending on the batters strength) and position your hands on the dumbbell as if you are it was the bat.
Leading with your elbow the dumbbell should follow a straight line from your back shoulder to the front side of your chest.
This motions should be slow and cause resistance in your bottom hand.
Do 5 sets of 10 reps with small breaks in between
This drill is an effective way to break players of the habit of dropping the barrel of the bat and popping up the ball when they hit.
One player at a time will take her at-bat stance.
The coach will stand where the umpire would normally stand and hold the top of the barrel on the bat.
The player will be instructed to take her swing as the coach is still holding the barrel of the bat up.
As the coach is holding up the barrel of the bat the player is feeling that resistance and is making the correct motions to pull the bat away from the coaches hands.
The coach will then release the bat and the player will finish her swing.
The player will not hit the coach when she finishes her swing.
If the coach still feels uncomfortable with this then just take a step back when releasing the bat.
This is a great drill for players to work on reaction time with taking a particular bat swing for different pitches.
Line up 3-5 batters about 4-5 feet apart with their bats
The coach will call out a certain pitch (high outside, low inside, drop ball, curve, screw) and the batters will take the appropriate swing and freeze where they would make contact with the ball.
The coach will observe and if wrong the player drops for 5 push ups and is out. The correct players remain in the game and sets for another pitch command.
This drill is a great way to ensure that batters become aware of the importance in using the lower body to increase power in their swing.
The batter will step up to bat with their front foot on the back line of the batters box
The batter will take a step with their back foot and then with their front foot to end close to their usual stance in the batters box.
As the batter takes her last step the coach will soft toss the ball.
The batter sets her hands quickly and takes her swing.
This should not be a slapping motion. The batter just has to be quick enough with her footwork and setting her hands to hit the ball at her usual stance.