As a batter, hitting with power is not size or strength alone. A batter with a small physical frame can hit for the fence if his batting stance puts all his power behind the ball and swing of the bat. Hitting drills for power have been designed to help track and hit inside and outside pitches and send the ball far into the outfield. Hitting well all over the field requires developing good habits.
Here are 10 batting drills that help improve focus and self-awareness at the plate. Being in touch with your body, having the right batting stance and great focus can improve your batting average and slugging percentage significantly.
Top Hand Drill
The top hand drill isolates the hand that takes the bat to the ball. All that’s needed for the drill are a few baseballs and someone to toss slow pitches.
Grip the bat where your top hand normally grips. If right handed, grip with your right hand only and the left hand for left handed batters. Using the bat like a tomahawk, the coach or another player soft tosses a baseball above the waist. Try to get over the ball and hit the top of it into the ground.
Try to drive the ball to the dirt 25 times, repeating the drill three times a week.
Two Ball Soft Toss Drill
Best when using two balls that are different colors, this drill helps improve target focus. As you perform this drill, your body builds muscle memory and repeats the same motion used when hitting the ball is accomplished.
The coach can use either baseballs, tennis balls (one that is painted a different color), or wiffle balls each a different color. Soft pitch two balls to the batter and call out to the batter the one you want him to hit, yelling out “higher” or “lower.”. One pitched ball will be higher than the other. Practice by a fence or use a screen placed behind the coach for the ball to be hit into.
The coach should also throw a fake toss here and there into the mix, and vary the speed of the pitched balls. Once the batter improves, change the speed of the pitches, so the batter gets experience hitting fast and slow pitched balls.
Power Hand Drill
In a bat grip the top hand directs the bat to the ball. The bottom hand is where the power comes from to drive the ball. The purpose of this drill is to develop bottom hand strength and gripping the bat only with this hand to hit the incoming ball. The batter can have either the coach, a pitcher or a batting machine pitching to him high in the strike zone.
Grip with your bottom hand (left hand for righties, right for lefties) near the knob of the bat. The hitter uses only the bottom hand in its regular position near the knob. The coach, either pitching or looking on, makes sure the pitches come in above the batter’s waist, preferably at the numbers. The batter steps into the ball and hits it one-handed.
25 swings at each practice should be performed to make improvements in the one hand swing, three times a week. This drill directly builds up the bottom hand and working it results in longer balls hit over time.
Multiple Location Drill
This drill trains players to pull the ball, hit it up the middle and take it to the opposite field. It also improves hitting pitches on the inside of the plate, down the middle and outside. For this drill, the player can either get soft tosses from the coach, or use a batting tee placed in different positions over the plate.
On a soft toss inside pitch, the player develops muscle memory swiveling his hips to turn on the pitch and pull it. Pitches over the middle (either soft tossed or by placing the batting tee on dead center home plate), the batter tries to hit the ball straight up the middle. On the outside pitch, players swing to hit to the opposite field.
After a few practice swings in all three directions on the field, the coach puts spots on the ground that tell the batter where to place his feet to pull the ball, hit down the middle and hitting to the opposite field.
- Coach spots an attack point for the inside pitch in front of the plate.
- The middle pitch is attacked just behind the instep of the batter’s front foot.
- The opposite field spot point is located just inside of the batter’s back foot.
If using a batting machine, the player can redirect the machine to pitch to him at these three locations, allowing him to get multiple strike contact practice.
Closed Eyes Batting Drill
This drill helps improve a batter’s reflexes, requiring him to hit the ball at the first moment he spots it. The coach pitches the ball to the player or instructs his pitcher where on the plate to pitch the ball. The Closed Eyes drill is great to try right after doing the Multiple Location drill.
The hitter assumes his best batting stance, then closes both eyes. The coach changes the strike height location of the pitched ball each time. After the ball is more than halfway to the plate, the coach yells “Now!” and the batter opens his eyes and attempts to hit pitches to his inside, outside and down the middle. The batter must use the correct swing to hit.
A further test of the batter’s reaction time is when the coach instructs him to only hit pitches in the strike zone, letting pass throws that are outside the strike zone. Instruct the player that any ball above the hands or on the ground should not be hit.
It’s suggested that the batter practice 15 pitches during each drill. He should do this drill three times a week.
Long Toss Drill
It’s a misconception that hitting drills are most effective when the pitcher throws from his normal distance at the pitcher’s mound, simulating game play conditions. However, much more can be accomplished when the pitcher stands closer to the batter, because the pitcher has better control at half the distance, allowing the batter to practice balls coming over different parts of the plate. The batter also acquires a quicker bat and improves his reflex skills since the ball is thrown from a shorter distance.
This drill should be done with a net placed behind the pitcher. The pitcher throws first at half speed, gradually increasing the velocity of his throw. Since the pitcher is closer the coach can instruct him to use wiffle balls that are golf ball size, and changing to hardballs midway through the drill.
The ball is thrown at a steady appropriate speed. The speed at this distance will make the batter develop a quicker bat and great skill.
Full Count Drill
This drill should include the whole team in a simulated game. Depending on time and making sure all team players get at least one chance at the plate, the drill forces batters to hit balls in the strike zone and pass on pitches on the outside. It strives to improve reaction time as well as reflexes and is similar to playing in an actual game.
All the players get on the field and the batter is given a count of 3 balls and two strikes. He only has one chance to decide to hit or let the ball go. Players on the field as well as the batter must be alert since the action is fast and there’s no lag time due to the full count.
If playing a 7 inning practice game, the coach can decide to give a 2-2 for the first four innings, moving to the faster paced full count for the last three.
Walk Up Power Hitting Drill
The walk-up drill is designed for a hitter to maximize the power output of the batter’s swing. A good amount of energy is expended in this drill because the player does not bat from his normal batting stance. A batting tee and a net are required. The player can do this drill alone.
Allow space behind the plate for the batter to stand. Place a batting tee on home plate. The player starts from 5 feet behind the tee. The batter takes a step with his back foot across the front foot. Then he takes a step with his other foot into a stride position, then swinging.
This drill, when completed, uses the stored up maximum power potential of the player’s body. By doing this drill regularly, the body becomes trained to exert its full-force power in a normal, everyday swing without having to perform the walk-up.
Perform this drill 5-10 times. The batter should feel he has utilized all of his built up strength to exert into the swing into the baseball. The idea is to swing for power, trying to hit the ball as far as possible. In game play, the muscle memory the batter developed from this fun drill will make him hit much further.
Slow Motion Power Drill
This drill works by making sure all the moving parts of a batter’s swing are working at the highest efficiency and in the right sequence. Its focus is on developing muscle memory by slowing down a player’s approach to the ball, allowing him to tune into his body movement in order to modify those parts of his approach to the ball for maximum power.
Not performing a drill like the Slow Motion drill does not let batters to develop muscle memory. The drill can be performed alone, requiring only a few balls, a net and a batting tee. Without setting a time limit, players should take the time to go through their swing, following the movements or their bodies and adjusting for the most power.
This drill is basically cause and effect. The batter swings and watches how far the ball travels, and adjusts his mechanics to hit with more control and power. The power of a good swing comes from the ground up, from the feet, through the body and finally through the hands and the barrel of the bat. By slowing down the swing and checking to make sure the body is in sync and working properly, you will know that you are swinging in the most efficient way.
The drill can even be performed at home without hitting a baseball. It’s about focus and concentration, balancing body weight. The player practices swinging super slowly in a full upward motion. The batter makes sure his load is properly separating his hands from his front foot, making sure feet land softly, transferring weight to open up the hips.
Three Ball Drill
The 3-ball drill disciplines batters to stay back and let the ball travel to the best and most appropriate zone before hitting it. Most players don’t hit the ball “where it is pitched” at first, causing weak rollovers and popups. Mastering the Three Ball drill teaches batters to wait greatly improves control to pull the ball, hit down the middle or strije to the opposite field.
For this drill, take three baseballs and place them in different areas around the plate. Place the first one so it’s in line with the inside corner of home plate and about 16 inches in front of the plate. Place the second ball two inches in front and in the middle of home plate. The third ball will be placed on the outside corner of home at about the middle of the plate.
The coach either throws himself or uses the most accurate pitcher to front toss the ball. The pitcher attempts to throw the ball over each placed ball. The batter waits for the tossed ball to be directly over the placed ball before making contact.
Several balls should be thrown over the same ball each time, one after the other, giving the batter time to make adjustments to his swing. Starting on the outside ball, move next to the middle of the plate, finally pitch over the inside.
Pitch over the outside several times, and the batter begins developing muscle memory, swing mechanics and eye to object coordination. Once the coach sees that the batter waits for the pitch, the pitcher can mix up the sequence of throws, one to the inside, next to the outside, then the inside and so on.
The purpose of batting drills are to create an ideal swing for each batter. A batter’s best swing comes when his reflexes are sharpest, he’s learned to wait for the ball instead of swinging early (causing the ball to be pulled every time), and his muscle memory during his swing is fine-tuned to where the batter can make his own adjustments for maximum result. Power comes after the batter has perfected his swing. Slow motion approach to the ball on a tee allows him to make adjustments and to learn the source of his power.
The more the drills are performed during practice and reinforced at home, the sooner good habits develop and bad habits disappear more quickly. Of the drills discussed here, find the ones which make the most marked improvement on the batter and change your focus to those exclusively. The best swings are short, strong and consistent.