Monday, September 26, 2011

Unique Baseball Drills

By Jim Bain

While observing an advanced skill level team practice have you ever noticed a metal folding chair setting somewhere around the dugout, bull pen or other area adjacent to the practice field? If you have, you've probably either noticed it, but it didn't register or raise any questions in your mind, or you just figured it was for a coach to sit and take a break.

Did it ever occur to you that you were looking at a very important training tool? You heard me right... a baseball training aid which is utilized for rather unique and skill specific training.

We teach hitting mechanics in a systematic building block process which includes, but is not limited to the legs, core, hips, shoulders, wrists and starting mechanisms. Sometimes a player will develop a problem, or bad habit, with one or more of these elements which must be corrected.

The use of the metal folding chair, or a similar chair devise, as a coaching tool begins here. For instance:

1. If a player develops a bad habit of opening his hips too soon while swinging, he will either hit an excessive amount of foul balls to his left, if a right handed hitter, or to his right if a left handed hitter, or pull off the ball, which shortens his bat length and prevents him from being able to reach a pitch on the outside of the plate.

In order to correct this problem, it is imperative you remove the legs and hips as part of the swinging process. By having the player sit in the chair, with his ankles wrapped around the front legs, you accomplish this goal. The coach will soft toss a ball to the player and the player will swing, attempting to hit the ball solidly, but will only be able to utilize his core, shoulders and arms.

Repetitive use of this drill will retard the impulse of opening the hips too soon, as the muscle memory of the core will over ride, yet work in conjunction with the hips and legs, resulting in a quick bat and power generated from the entire body.

2. On the defensive side of the coin, the chair is utilized for drills which increases hand speed and fielding ability. Obviously the legs are an integral part of fielding just as they are with hitting, but there are times the legs will get a fielder where he wants to go, to the ball, in time, but a bad hop occurs which tests the fielder's ability to quickly adapt with his hands and glove.

The player will sit in the chair slightly bent over in a semi-fielding position. The coach will position himself about 10 foot away, facing the player and throw tennis or rubber balls at him in various ways.

The reason tennis or rubber are used instead of a regular baseball is they bounce better, can be made to bounce and skid erratically and for safety as the player is restricted in his movement.

The fast paced drill requires the fielder to react quickly with only his glove and upper body, which replicates the identical situation presented by a bad hop. Repetitive use of this drill will increase the players' hand speed and agility.

So next time you're at a practice field, don't just look...actually see what's going on. There's no telling what you might learn.

Jim Bain, former Minor league baseball player, who since retiring has dedicated his life to teaching baseball to youth, shares his advice on hitting baseball drills on his exciting info packed website:

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