Techniques and practice drills for baseball players have improved greatly since the game became an organized sport in 1850. Coaches and players have come up with new approaches and manufacturers have applied new technologies to their products to help pitchers, catchers, fielders and batters improve their ability to perform baseball drills — even at home. The focus of a lot of the new technology, for batters, especially, is applying resistance to the baseball and the baseball bat. It’s becoming easier to do baseball drills at home than ever before.
Weighted bats take more muscle to swing, and this results in a faster swing and more accurate hitting with a regular baseball. Even increasing the weight of the bat by 12 ounces has improved strength and swing speed.
During the week and at home, players perform their own practicing routines in the afternoon. An advantage to practicing at home is not having to ride or be driven to a baseball field, and lugging bats and balls and gloves with you. And there’s no guarantee that when you get there the field will be available.
If you have the right equipment and the space, a lot can be accomplished in your own backyard. Technologies have recently been developed to help batters improve their hitting in less time. New equipment has helped to fine tune the batter’s swing, improved eye to hand coordination, and help modify their batting stance. Whether using specially designed practice bats and balls or not, repetition yields results. Dedication to practice will always make you a better player.
All of the baseball drills discussed here can be performed at home. Some of them require equipment that you can obtain at most sporting goods stores or online. Depending on the drill, the equipment ranges from a rubber ball to weighted baseball bats and scientifically designed baseballs that won’t break after repeated use.
This baseball drill only requires your baseball glove and a rubber ball. It’s simple and easy to do at home. You should start off slowly and challenge yourself more and more after spending time doing it. This drill can be practiced inside or outside.
Tossing a rubber ball at a flat surface improves eye to hand coordination and player reflexes, and response time between throwing and catching the ball. You will need about nine square feet of wall for the drill.
Stand in front of an open wall that doesn’t have any obstructions. Grab a rubber ball and put on your baseball glove. Stand facing the wall, about three feet away to start. This drill helps you practice fielding balls hit straight back at you, short hops, as well as balls hit at you straight on and unpredictable bloopers.
As you throw the ball at the wall at different heights, you’ll learn how it will bounce back at you. To practice catching fly balls, throw the ball on the ground in front of the wall so it bounces off and back at you. Throw in a straight line to the wall and the ball will return to you faster. Throw higher up on the wall to practice catching fly balls.
After about 10 minutes, take off your glove and try fielding barehanded. Barehanded catches are harder to field and will improve your ability to catch with a glove. After another 10 minutes, put your glove back on.
Over time, you can begin to challenge yourself even more by throwing the ball harder at the wall. The harder your throw, the faster the ball flies back in your direction. Near the end of the drill, try throwing the ball anywhere on the wall in front of you and see how well you can field it.
Power Hitting Baseball Drill at Home
This is a simple drill to help improve your batting skills, and can be practiced in the backyard at home. All that’s really needed is a bucket of impact balls and a bat.
Because of limited backyard space, we recommend using a minimum flight ball, which can be found at most sporting goods stores or on Amazon. Sklz brand, for example, makes a heavy duty training ball that’s heavier than a standard Wiffle ball and doesn’t crack like Wiffle balls do after repeated use. Designed for limited spaces, impact balls are great to use because they don’t travel as far as a baseball and they flex when making contact with the bat. They’re virtually indestructible, or can be used thousands of times.
Stand with your bucket full of impact balls and try to have about 50 to 75 feet of clearance in front of you. Place a bag or any square surface (such as the bottom of a cardboard box), or even chalk to make an outline of home plate. If there is a square section of cement of any size brick area in the backyard, it can act as a substitute for home plate.
Right handed batters will use their left hand to lob the ball up from their waist, then grip the bat and make impact with the ball. You can spend a full hour on the Power Hitting Drill, and over time will know what adjustments to make in their batting stance to hit further. Hitters can challenge themselves by tossing the ball higher in the air and timing their swing. Throwing the ball up to different heights simulates the different varieties of pitches player will have thrown at them in a ball game.
This is the kind of drill that can’t be over practiced. Dedicating an hour in the afternoon in the backyard and throwing up an impact ball high and low in air, greatly improves timing and reflexes, and synchronizes your body to match your swing. It’s one of those exercises where by simply tossing up, then swinging repeatedly, yields results without further input from the batter, It helps hitters evolve from good to very good, even great, hitters.
Power sticks are baseball bats that are smaller in diameter than regular bats and used to improve the swing. The smaller size works to improve the mechanics of a player’s swing, and sharpens eye to hand coordination and build swinging muscles. When practicing with a thinner bat, the size of a regulation baseball looks larger and easier to hit in games.
For this drill, you’ll need a batting tee, a net, a power stick bat and practice baseballs. Do not use a regulation hardball with a power stick bat. The training balls mentioned in the previous drill can be used in this drill. This practice can be performed in your backyard.
SKLZ makes a baseball speed and power training bat for this purpose. We recommend their power stick because it was designed specifically to strengthen batting specific coordination, and it comes with three practice balls.
If you don’t have a batting tee, we suggest having another player with you to do this drill to soft toss the ball to you from your side (right or left side, depending on which side you bat from). When you’re done you can switch with you partner and lob balls to him.
Using a batting tee, set the tee to a level where the ball is in the center of your strike zone. Place the small practice ball on the tee and place a net about six feet in front of you. Swing through the ball. Power sticks are smaller than a regular bat, so it’s a great drill to power up your swing. Keep these steps in mind when practicing:
- Standardize your swing. Try to remain in the same stance each time you swing. Remain in a set position for each 10 balls you hit. Study how well your contact with the ball is.
- After 10 swings, adjust your stance and try it doing 10 more swings. Determine if you’re hitting with more power with this new stance.
- Keep the barrel of the bat up.
- Keep your weight back, then pivot and turn in the direction of the pitcher (the net).
- The object of the drill is to try to hit the center of the ball with the power stick
The best way to refine the mechanics of a player’s swing is to do the drill in two steps. The first step is solo with a batting tee and a net. The second step is having your partner soft toss the ball to you.
As players practice this drill, his swing will improve, because his body will develop muscle memory from constant swinging of the ball into the net. Try swinging with one hand when your partner tosses the ball to develop even more strength in your swinging arm.
The Power Stick Hitting Drill could be done for 30-45 minutes. Once you find your perfect stance, you can move on to footwork, then try your new swing in baseball practice. You can also try a regular bat and ball at the local batting range after doing this drill at home.
The purpose of this drill is to gain strength in the forearms and the wrists. More strength in the lower arms means more control of your swing. Swinging a bat requires both hands.
For right handers, your left hand sets the bat into position to swing while your right hand, wrist and forearm pulls the bat through the ball. The strength to hit for power begins with the lower arms, which is where the speed of your swing originates.
To do this drill at home, you’ll need a standard baseball bat and a baseball donut. Start in a standing position and hold your bat straight out in front of you. The head of the bat points to the sky.
Rotate the bat the way a windshield wiper moves, all the way to the right as for as you can go. Hold there for one second, then rotate the bat all the way to the left as far as you can. Do this 10 times, bat head pointing to the sky, rotate right, then all the way left 10 times.
This drill can cause fatigue in your arms. That’s why it’s important to maintain good posture. Remember to keep the arms straight with a slight bend in the elbows.
Players who work in a limited space when practicing batting drills at home and who want to practice their mechanics can benefit from equipment that lets them to do hundreds of repetitions per hour and not needing to stop and retrieve their baseball. As a coach, I recommend a product that functions as a swing trainer and which is stationary, allowing my batters to stand in one place and swinging at the ball hundreds of times.
This drill with the swing trainer works on the batter’s mechanics and timing. A neat feature of this product is that the ball can be adjusted so hitters can practice hitting pitches that are high, low and in the middle of the strike zone. Taking a step away from the trainer helps them practice hitting outside pitches, a step closer for pitches on the inside.
This Hit-A-Way product allows players to clock hours of practice swinging on their own, and can be set up anywhere around the house. It can also be taken to baseball practice and used as a warm up before actual batting practice. Like other hitting drills, the swing training drill improves eye to hand coordination, the timing of the player’s swing by helping him to pace himself. It fastens to a batting tee or any vertical pole.
When I was in college, this swing trainer had just been released on the market, and I saw it on every infomercial that popped up. I knew it would take my game to the next level so I quickly purchased one. I can honestly say, this is my #1 recommendation when it comes to drills you can do at home. It’s unparalleled on how many swinging reps you can get in even just a 15 minute session.
Solo Toss Drill
Some of the best batting drills can be performed without a baseball bat. By using only a baseball, players can improve their eye to hand coordination and reflexes by focusing on the ball and timing their catch.
A famous player has said, “If you can catch a baseball, then you can hit a baseball.” In reality, the baseball bat is merely an extension of the arms and hands.
Hitters connect with the ball to the bat with their eyes. If a player can focus on the position of a baseball in relation to his body and then catch it, by extension he can hit the ball his eyes follow with a bat.
This drill is identical to a batter tossing the ball to himself and hitting it with his bat. Players get into their regular batting stance. For right-handed batters, players hold the ball in their left hand, the right hand for left-handed hitters. Now, simply toss the ball with your left hand in the air as if about to hit it. The right arm is cocked, elbow out in the same way as if you were holding a bat.
Follow through with your right hand, getting into good hitting position. Move your right arm at the same speed as you would when swinging, and catch the ball. To practice outside pitches, toss the ball further away from your body. Inside pitches are hit further out in front of the body, so you should toss the baseball in front of you and pull your right arm over to catch it.
For off-speed pitches, throw the ball higher in the air so there’s a delay before you swing. Your swinging right arm (Left arm for left handed hitters) should follow through and catch the ball with the same motion used to swing with a bat.
Players swing with bats they’re familiar with and a size and weight they feel comfortable using. Putting a weight on the wide part of the bat makes it extra heavy at the end, forcing them to swing with more strength to follow through.
One of the advantages of a weighted bat is that it strengthens the muscles used to swing. It also improves players’ swinging mechanics. After a drill with a heavy bat, the hitter’s swing is more fluid, even and compact.
This drill can be executed anywhere at home. One of the products sold as a weight for baseball bats that we recommend is the Varo 12 ounce Bat Training Weight. We like it because it’s a sleeve that’s put over the bottom and slides up the bat to its widest part. It’s made of rubber and has vent holes to diminish wind resistance. Taking out the wind factor variable allows our players to simulate real swings.
For this drill, simply place the 12 ounce weight on the bat and swing down the middle, up high and low at the knees. It’s a great idea to use a weighted bat prior to hitting practice baseballs with a tee. Muscles used for swinging develop memory, and batting swings are fine tuned when using weights.
Feel free to use this drill before using the Hit-A-Way for a game-like experience as if you were on deck. This can help increase swing power while doing batting drills at home.