08 July, 2011
One Person Baseball Drills
Baseball may be a team sport, but you can practice some skills on your own. Performing solo baseball drills outside of your regular team practices lets you improve your skills faster than players who don’t put in the extra work. You may also impress your coach by going above and beyond the standard team workouts. Most importantly, if you enjoy the game, the solo drills may provide the best possible chance to maximize your potential.
Although there’s no complete substitute for hitting against live pitching, you can improve your swing and your timing by doing solo hitting drills. The closest substitute for live pitching is hitting against a pitching machine. Some machines throw both fastballs and curves at various speeds and in different locations. If your team doesn’t have a pitching machine, you can find them at many commercial batting cages or sports training centers. You can also practice your swing by hitting off of a tee. Place the tee on different parts of the plate to practice swinging at high, low, inside and outside pitches. If you’re practicing on a field, focus on an area 5 to 7 feet above the pitcher’s mound as you begin your swing, then move your eyes back toward the tee, as if you were tracking a pitch. If you’re indoors, put some tape on a wall to simulate a pitcher’s release point.
As with hitting, you can practice fielding techniques with machines at baseball training centers. Some machines throw ground balls while others toss pop-ups or short flies. Alternatively, throw a rubber ball against a wall and catch the ball as it rebounds. To practice grounders, throw the ball in different locations, forcing you to move to your left and right. Throw the ball low against the wall to practice low-bouncing grounders, or throw it higher for longer bounces or to produce balls you must field off a short hop.
You can also use a wall to practice your throwing accuracy. Make a target on the wall, using erasable chalk or tape, and simply throw to the target. Combine fielding and throwing drills by throwing a ground ball, fielding it and then throwing to the target, as if you were trying to throw a runner out at first base. Alternatively, place a ball on a batting tee and try to hit the ball with your throws from a variety of distances.
To improve your pitching accuracy, use chalk or tape to replicate a strike zone on a wall and try to hit different spots within the zone. You’ll also find various commercial targets, such as nets or wooden boards, that you can set up in front of home plate on a regular field. To improve your balance and throwing mechanics, take your normal position on the pitching rubber and execute the first part of your delivery, up to the point at which you lift your front leg to its highest level. Stop at that point and try to remain steady for five seconds.
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