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Monday, April 13, 2009

Coaching Baseball Pitchers - Absolute Best Drill You Can Use to Improve Control and Build Confidence

By Nick Dixon

Learning to control every pitch and to be able to "hit spots" is a required skill for pitching success at all levels including Little League, High School, College and MLB baseball. There is no better baseball pitching drill for improving a pitcher's control and building a pitcher's confidence than the "Japanese Pitching Drill". I do not know where the name came from. I saw this drill used back in the late 80's at a college summer baseball camp and the coaches called it the "Japanese Drill". When I asked the coaches why they called the drill, the "Japanese Drill", they respond that the drill was called that because it was originated in the country of Japan. I know that if you use this drill regularly, it will definitely build pitching control and confidence.

"Japanese" Pitching Drill

The drill involves a pitcher throwing strikes at varying distances as shown in the diagram below. The catcher is "c" and each spot the pitcher throws from is marked with an "x". The distances shown are for high school and college pitchers. You can reduce the distances between spots and reduce the number of spots for younger players.



The plate and catcher are set at a stationary location and they are never moved. The pitcher will move forward or back from "spot to spot" after throwing a set number of pitches at each location. Normally the spots are marked with cones or plastic round markers. The pitcher should begin throwing at a distance about 1/4 of his normal pitching distance. At the close spots the pitcher will throw at 1/2 speed. You should have 6-8 distance markers with the first being at the starting point and the longest being 1 and ½ times the normal pitching distance. The markers should be in a straight line with the plate. The object of the drill is to develop control by throwing pitches from spots will gradually moving away from and toward the plate. The pitcher is required to throw 3 strikes from each marker before moving to the next. The catcher serves as the umpire.

It is good to have the pitcher throw from each spot going backward and then throw from each spot coming forward. If your pitchers are young, you may want to make then throw just 1 or 2 strikes from each spot. Pitchers gain great confidence when they see that they can throw strikes from a distance farther than their regular pitching distance. They learn to concentrate on the target and throw to the mitt. You will be very pleased from the results you see in the control of your pitchers. Another variation of this drill is to have 2 pitchers competing against each other in a timed drill. The winner is the pitcher that starts at the front, goes to the back, and returns to the front, first. The pitchers must throw 3 strikes at each spot before advancing to the next spot. This is a great drill to teach pitchers to throw strikes under pressure. When more than one pitcher and catcher are involved, make sure that your catchers are far enough apart to prevent a wild pitch from hitting another catcher. It is also a good idea for catchers to wear full gear when participating in this drill.

When two pitchers compete in this drill they learn to work fast, concentrate, and execute a perfect pitch. Make sure your pitchers are in condition for this drill. They will find that throwing strikes from longer distance requires great mechanics and builds arm strength. Make sure your players stretch and warm-up first.

The has a great selection of BASEBALL PITCHING, COACHING and TRAINING ARTICLES. Check out the Baseball 2Day Coaching Journal for free baseball coaching drills, tips, and other valuable information.

Nick Dixon is the President and founder of Nedco Sports, the "Hit2win Company". Dixon is also an active and full time high school baseball coach with over 25 years experience. Dixon is widely recognized as an expert in the area of baseball training, practice and skill development. Coach Dixon is better known as the inventor of several of baseball and softball's most popular training products such as the Original BatAction Hitting Machine, SKLZ Derek Jeter Hurricane Hitting Machine, Original Hitting Stick, Hit2win Trainer, SKLZ Target Trainer, SKLZ Derek Jeter ZipnHit Pro, and Strikeback Trainer. Dixon is also a contributing writer for BaseballCoachingDigest, the Baseball 2Day Coaches Journal, Batting Cage Builder, the American Baseball Directory and the Hit2win Baseball Coaches Monthly Newsletter. Dixon has 5 blogs related to baseball training including the BaseballCoachingDigest Blog, CoachesBest Training Blog, Hurricane Machine Training Blog, Batting Cage Buyers Blog, and the Bat Action Training Blog.

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Hello Baseball Friend,
I welcome any comments or suggestions. If you have a question or a topic that you would like to read about, please leave a comment and I will try to address that topic as soon as I can. Good luck in the coming season!
Have a great day, Nick