By Nick Dixon
Learning correct baseball pitching mechanics are the first step in the making of a pitcher. Once proper mechanics are mastered these two drills can be used to hone skill, increase concentration, build confidence, and improve control.
Here are two drills that can bed used to help improve a pitchers control. The two drills are "Pitch Tracking" and the "20 X 4" Pitching Drill.
Great Drill for Hitters, Catchers, and Pitchers!
The pitcher is throwing to a catcher as he normally would in pitching practice or bull-pen work. The pitcher is throwing at his normal pitching distance. The purpose of the drill is to increase a pitcher's level of concentration, to work a catcher, and to allow one batter or two batters learn to "track" every pitch.
Variation #1: One Batter - Right or Left handed
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Variation #2: Two Batters - One Right and One Left handed
C --------------------------------------- P
Variation #1 - One batter is standing in and tracking every pitch from the pitcher's hand to the catcher's mitt. The batter does not have a bat. The batter will assume his regular stance and imagine that he is holding a bat. The batter will "track" or watch the first three pitches out of the pitcher's hand until they hit the catcher's mitt, making sure to keep his head down and eyes on the ball all of the way. The batter must have a batting helmet on. The next steps to the drill are explained in the second paragraph below.
Variation #2 - Two batters are standing in the batter's box without bats. Each batter will assume his regular stance and imagine that he is holding a bat. The batters will "track" or watch the first three pitches out of the pitcher's hand until they hit the catcher's mitt, making sure to keep his head down and his eyes on the ball all of the way. The batters must have a batting helmet on. The next steps to the drill are explained in the paragraph below.
Next the batters will swing away with their "imaginary" bats. The batters will read the location of each pitch the pitcher throws and hit the ball where it is pitched. When two batters are tracking, they will do opposites. One will pull a pitch in a location that his tracking partner will hit to the opposite field.
The coach can call out a count such as 2-0, 3-1, 1-2, and 0-2 to allow the batters, pitchers, and catchers certain mind-sets in different situations.
Note: If your hitters are too young to perform this drill, have a coach to stand in. The coach may wish to wear a helmet and wear a glove for protection. This is a tough drill, but it is great for developing concentration. Make sure all batters wear helmets and other proper protective equipment.
Coaching Point: The hitters do not hold a bat. The batters will swing a "invisible" bat. They must attack and hit every pitch according to its location. This drill is great for teaching hitters to see spin and to teach them to see a pitchers release point.
"20 X 4" Pitching Drill
Improves Control & Concentration
This drill is a pitching drill in which the young pitcher works at a smooth, rather fast pace, but only throws 50-60% of normal speed. The pitcher should not be allowed to throw full speed. The objective of the drill is to teach concentration and develop great control. The pitcher has to throw 20 strikes before 4 balls are thrown. The pitcher should be allowed to perform the drill at a shorter distance at first. After several practices, the pitcher should be able to move to the regular pitching distance within. If 4 balls are thrown before 20 strikes, the pitcher must restart. Care should be taken to not overwork the pitcher. Keeping the distance short, emphasizing accuracy not speed, and making sure the pitcher is properly stretched and warmed-up should prevent any chance of arm injury.
With younger players you may want to make the drill a 10-3 drill. 10 strikes must be thrown before 3 balls or the drill is restarted.
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