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Objective: Develop endurance and stamina with muscle memory.
Drill: After a pitching working, use 3 balls and have them set to the side of the pitcher’s mound. The catcher will call out 3 pitches for the pitcher to throw in a row. The catcher will drop the balls near the plate after they are caught. The pitcher throws all 3 pitches as quickly as possible, then runs and picks up the balls by the catcher, and runs back to the mound. The catcher repeats the cycle and calls out 3 more pitches to throw. Continue this drill for about 6-8 sets.
Goal: Gain endurance, speed, mental strength, and muscle memory. As the body tires, the brain loses focus; the goal is to develop both physical and mental strength while pushing the body to its limit.
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.
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.
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.
The tee is one of the most useful tools for training to hit a fast pitched ball. It allows you to work on your swing in a controlled, stable environment, with an assistant, or on your own. Additionally, you can use it to add difficulty to your training as your ability improves, with options like changing the location of the ball.
Training set-up: It is recommended to have a tee and a flat “throw down” home plate. Any type of tee can be used, as long as you have a separate “throw down” home plate. If you do not have a” throw down plate” it is best that you use a standard black tee. Set your tee up, place the flat side of your throw down plate directly behind the neck of the tee. If you do not have a” throw down plate” and you are using a standard black tee, with the neck of the tee in the middle of the base that is shaped like a home plate, turn the tee around so the flat edge of the tee faces the catcher and the pointed end of the base faces the pitcher. You can also make your own home plate by tracing and cutting out a home plate using various material. I have seen people use carpet, rubber, thin wood or bath mats.
Basic swing training: Most training will be done with the ball placed in the middle of plate (or strike zone) and at the front of the throw down plate. This is done by placing the center and neck of the tee in this position. You would then take a balanced stance at the proper distance from the plate. The position of your feet should be set such that when you take a normal stride (or no stride as some hitters prefer), your front toes will end up in line with the ball (and neck of the tee). You should use the corners of the plate as a consistent guide to position yourself to hit from the tee. You are now ready to hit. (Don’t forget to place a ball on the tee, and if hitting indoors, hit into a net.)
Ball Focus: To help train your focus on the ball, place the ball on the tee in a consistent manner with regard to the seams (or marks placed on the ball). One method is to place the ball on the tee with two seams parallel to the ground, facing the catcher. For a line drive, focus on hitting the ball directly in between the two seams. For situational practice hitting long fly balls, focus on hitting the ball on the lower seam or below. For situational practice hitting ground balls, focus on hitting the ball on the upper seam or higher.
Training to hit different height pitches: Simply raise or lower the neck of the tee to the appropriate height to practice hitting pitches at different heights in the strike zone, or even pitches outside of the strike zone.
Training to hit corner pitches: As noted earlier, place the tee directly down the middle of the plate at the front edge of the throw down plate to simulate a pitch down the middle. To simulate an inside pitch, place the neck of the tee approximately 6-8” in front of the throw down plate, but in line with the inside corner of the plate. Do not change the relative position of your stance to the throw down plate for this location. The position of your stance will always be based on the middle center of the plate. Conversely, to simulate an outside pitch, place the neck of the tee on the outside back corner of the throw down plate. Again, do not change the relative position of your stance to the throw down plate for this location. You can also simulate more pitches by moving the tee even farther inside or outside and combining this changing the height of the tee.
Objective: Helps train base running, and picking off players.
Set Up Put a base runner at first base. Place a pitcher, catcher, and first baseman in their defensive positions. Place a bag of candy on the base path between first, and second.
Execution: As the pitcher pitches the ball, the base runner leads off first base. There is a pile of candy laying out on the base path where the baserunner is leading off. The base runner is trying to figure out how far off the base she can go, and still get back to first base without getting thrown out. The base runner leads off, grabs a piece of candy and then slides back head first into first base. By having to pick up the candy, this forces the baserunner to stay low on the way out and the way back. In the meantime, the catcher throws the ball to the first basemen who is working on her footwork back to the base to pick off the runner. If the runner is safe, she gets to keep the piece of candy. If she is thrown out, she has to put the candy back.