This is what we call regular batting practice or live hitting. Let players hit and have fun. Resist urge to coach. Coaching and tinkering are for drill work. As players get older it's okay to have them work on bunting, hit-and-runs and moving runners over during free hitting or batting practice. Hitting is supposed to be fun, so let the kids have at it. Notice when corrections are needed and work on them during drill sessions.Age appropriate: all ages.
Set up a hockey or lacrosse goal as a backstop with a home plate in front of the net.
Almost any hitting drill can be turned into a contest using a point system. Award a point for a hard ground ball up the middle, two points for a line drive up the middle and five points for a line drive up the middle that reaches the back wall of a cage or the gym. Develop your own point systems for whatever concept you are teaching. Make sure proper hitting mechanics are stressed at all times. Age appropriate: all ages.
Knock Out the Catcher
Coach dresses in full catcher's gear and sits on a chair 10-15 feet from home plate. Tosses the ball and tells the hitter to knock him off the chair. Players work on hitting the ball hard up the middle without even knowing it. Age appropriate: ages 4-9.
Line Drive Home Run
Set up in the outfield, hitting toward the back wall of the gym. Pitch overhand or toss balls underhand to players and give points for hard ground balls and line drives. Pick a point on the back wall and designate it as the home run line. Home runs count five points if they are line drives that hit the back wall above the line. Swings and misses, pop-ups and foul balls (balls that hit the side walls) are outs. Give each player three outs and see who can score the most points. Age appropriate: ages 4-12.
Tee Hitting for Distance
Players use proper fundamentals to see how far they can hit a ball off of a tee in an open gym. Use weight shift ("go back to go forward"), winding up almost like a pitcher to take the weight to the back side before exploding forward. Head should stay on ball and front shoulder and stride should be directly toward the pitcher until contact. Batters who drop the back shoulder and try to hit ball high intentionally are eliminated. Line drives are best, but hard ground balls count. Set up a point system or designate a home run line on the back wall of the gym. Age appropriate: all ages.
Standard hitting drill that can be done virtually anywhere. Teammates can toss to one another or a coach can toss to a player. Batter takes stance and tosser kneels across from hitter, slightly in front of home plate. Balls tossed underhand so batter can hit out in front of plate. Hitter wants to concentrate on having a loose grip in the fingers with the "door knocking" knuckles lined up. This will allow the wrists to unlock, promoting a quicker swing using the hands, wrists and forearms. Think: "Loose grip, quick bat." Best if done into a screen with a target using plastic balls, tennis balls or rubber balls. Age appropriate: all ages.
Players adjust batting tee to height where they need to swing down slightly to get bat to the ball. Hit into the fence with a target. Work strictly on weight shift ("go back to go forward"). Take all the weight to the back side before exploding forward. Keep head down, eyes on ball. Take front foot and front shoulder directly toward pitcher. Try to hit ball in target each time. Avoid upper-cut swing. Indoors it's best to use plastic balls, tennis balls or soft rubber balls. Age appropriate: all ages.
Short Toss from the Front
Drill stresses using "the big part of the field." Coach sits on bucket or chair behind a screen about 10-12 feet out in front of home plate. Tosses pitch underhand but firmly to outside part of plate. Batter tries to keep front shoulder in and drive ball up the middle or the other way. Some batters naturally will pull the pitches, which is okay if that is their natural swing and they hit line drives. Weakly pulled ground balls are what we are trying to avoid. Use soft or plastic balls inside. Age appropriate: all ages.
Can be done by players of all ages once they can make contact consistently with pitched balls. Coach stands or sits about 8-10 feet in front of batter behind screen. Tosses pitches overhand or underhand. Batter hits first five pitches with two hands, then takes the top hand off bat for next five pitches. Use normal game bat. Try not to choke up if possible. Can tuck elbow into side for more leverage if necessary. After hitting five with one hand, hitter finishes up by hitting five more with two hands. One-hand reps should be difficult. Drill should help batter take bat on a more direct path to the ball. Should feel a difference when hitting the final set of five. Use softer or plastic balls indoors. Age appropriate: ages 10-15+.
Coach sits or stands behind screen about 20-25 feet in front of home plate, tossing balls with a high arc (like slow pitch softball). Batter lets the ball travel as far as possible ("let it get deep") before trying to drive the ball. Designed to help hitter be patient and avoid shifting weight to front foot too soon. Use softer or plastic balls inside. Click here to see instructional video at more details Age appropriate: ages 10-15+.