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Running an Effective Batting Practice

Hitting drills we do can be found all over the web. The secret way is not in some special new drill, but in organizing the hitting practice is to get the most fundamentally correct swings to develop proper muscle memory.

It is important to remember that perfect practice makes perfect play. If the players are not swinging with correct fundamentals all they are doing is reinforcing bad muscle memory. Bad hitting mechanics means there will be "holes" in the swing, which translates into offensive outs and increase player frustration. Perfect practice creates good muscle memory, which means more hard hit balls.

Here is what we do is set up six different batting stations around the field and divide the team into many different groups (try to keep only two players per group). To get 400 swings in one hour, using six batting stations, will give the players 10 minutes at each station. The pitching machine station can only provide about 40 swings in the allotted time. This leaves us with 360 swings for 5 stations; therefore, you must average 72 perfect swings per station per player.

Here are some example batting stations:

1. Overload / Underload practice swings: 5 sets of 10 overload and 10 underload = 100 swings concentrating on bat speed. Practice swings without a ball develops good balance and proper swing mechanics.

2. Pitch location batting tee work: 2 sets of 10 inside, 10 middle, and 10 outside = 60 swings focused on hitting location and driving the ball to all fields. Working off a tee adds the element of hitting the ball without ball movement so the batter can focus on another element, in this case driving the ball to all fields. By removing the ball movement a batter can develop good balance and contact point location to be able to hit to all fields.

3. Circular soft toss drill: instructor soft tosses 15 balls from behind, 15 balls from the side, and 20 balls from the front = 50 swings focused on hitting the middle of the ball. Coach soft toss adds the element of a slow moving ball with the batter focusing on hitting the middle of the ball at the bat-ball contact point for line drives into the outfield.

4. Wiffle ball short toss: 3 sets of 10 outside, 10 middle, and 10 inside = 90 swings concentrating on putting the whole swing together but with the ball moving at a slower speed than during the game. At a short distance, the coach can position the pitch at different locations within the strike zone to provide additional batting practice for hitting to all fields.

5. One handed tee work: 3 sets of 10 front hand only and 10 back hand only = 60 swings concentrating on hand movement through the strike zone. The front hand guides the bat through the hitting zone and the back hand provides the power to the swing. This drill isolates the hand movement through the hitting zone.

6. Hitting practice off a pitching machine: 40 swings concentrating on timing the swing. By using different dimple balls from different manufactures, the ball movement and speed are slightly varied to simulate a variety of ball movement. It is very difficult to teach hitting mechanics off a machine, but is very effective with hitter timing.

There is nothing special about this set of stations other than you can get a lot of swings very quickly and isolate the individual hitting mechanics. We will use different station drills throughout the season to provide variety and work on specific skills.

What I want to encourage is that you, as a coach, think about how to maximize the number of swings per practice by sub-dividing the players into smaller groups and use multiple hitting stations. What drills do you know that fall into these broad categories? Okay, switch them in for variety.

About Author Bruce Smith :

<a href="" target="_blank">Baseball @ Youth-Athlete</a> provides helpful instruction for parents, coaches, and young athletes around the world. Youth-Athlete also provides tournament listings, suggestions to parents and coaches that enable a successful season, more on <a href="" target="_blank">hitting fundamentals</a>, and a community for open questions.

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Article Added on Monday, August 10, 2009
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