Baseball coaches should implement sport-specific drills into practice in order to help players advance their respective skill sets and reach their peak potential. Certain drills correspond to specific positions on the diamond whereas others focus on the fundamental aspects of hitting. It’s important for coaches to incorporate a variety of drills into each practice so that all players are able to soundly play at a high level come game time.
Pepper is the most common drill used across all levels of baseball. It requires four players to alternate positions in a 20-foot radius between first and third base while fielding ground balls. This drill forces players to improve their reaction time and throwing accuracy. After each ground ball is fielded, players rotate counter-clockwise to the next position on the diamond. Pepper familiarizes players with all infield positions and stretches their arm strength. The difficulty of this drill can be increased when an additional player is responsible for hitting ground balls, as opposed to a coach. This aspect of the drill forces the batter to transition into a fielding position after hitting a grounder to a teammate.
Executing a relay play is a fundamental aspect of effectively playing the field in baseball. A relay throw is needed when an opposing hitter drives the ball deep into an outfield gap. After an outfielder has sprinted into the gap to retrieve the ball, he must pivot and make an accurate throw to the cutoff man, who is responsible for making a throw to the appropriate base before the base-runner reaches safely. Practicing this pivotal play will increase a team’s ability to throw out runners on the base paths and also improve communication efforts.
The double-play gets pitchers out of run-surrendering jams and generates momentum. Infielders should practice the double-play regularly in order to perfect their fielding mechanics, which includes footwork and throwing accuracy. This drill simply requires the coach to stand at home plate and randomly hit grounders across the infield. Each infielder should assume his respective position and react to the ball. This drill will improve infielders’ ability to fluidly execute a double-play.
The most productive hitters are able to spray the ball across the outfield gaps. The opposite field batting drill can help batters improve their ability to hit the ball opposite of their natural pull tendency. This drill requires forcing batters to develop an inside-out approach at the plate and counteract their mechanics. To perform this drill, a batter should assume her normal stance at the plate. It’s recommended for a coach to stand behind an L-screen slightly in front of the pitcher’s mound, and throw soft pitches toward the outside corner of the plate. The batter needs to practice stepping toward the ball while keeping his swing level so that his back shoulder doesn’t dip. This mechanical adjustment will better enable players to drive the ball to opposite field.
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