Baseball Drills, Drills, Drills. Wasn’t it Motley Crue who had a somewhat respectable hit back in the 80s with that song? Maybe not, maybe it was something else, but be that as it may, this section is all about those drills, drills, drills. The importance of conducting drills cannot be understated, as they are the cornerstone of baseball fundamentals, and doing baseball drills is also the foundation of improving your game…going from good to great and then great to elite. Of course, drills are ultimately important because they assist the development of the required muscle memory necessary to be an optimum performer. The motions involved with all aspects of baseball – hitting, running, fielding, throwing and others, require the individual to do them as second nature, that is, without thought and hesitation. There is just no time for an individual to walk himself through a process each and every time he attempts to perform one of these movements, so they must be ingrained movements. The baseball player has to react automatically, and muscle memory allows this! By definition, muscle memory results from teaching the muscles to perform a definite movement or activity, and repeating it until it can be done without thought, and most baseball motions need to be practiced and practiced again…and then some more, before they can be routinely repeated without thought or issue.
Simply, it is an exercise…designed to provide ballplayers with the repetition necessary for them to develop muscle memory. It is the method used by coaches to train their players and players to train their bodies to perform the required movements so they can natural do them in any situation, fun or pressure filled. Hitting off a tee, fielding hundreds of groundballs, pitchers working bullpen sessions, baserunners working on a crossover step to begin a steal…these are all exercises that can be done – they are drills. But they have to be done the right way. I have been working with a player, outside of practice, on batting, teaching the rotational method which I am a huge proponent of. We have been doing tee work, hitting a heavy bag, working with various rotational training aids, using film, etc, and things are going great. Then last week I watched some soft toss with the team, and it was rapid fire….second after second his partner would toss a ball and my protégé would just aimlessly flail away. There was nothing being done correctly. At least nothing was being done that we’ve been working on. It was almost like everything we had worked on was tossed aside. At least for this session. So it’s really crucial drills are done correctly. Again, we play like we practice and we practice like we play, so while rapid fire didn’t work in this case, it can, as long as the player concentrates on doing all the right motions and movements. This is where proper baseball instruction comes in, and where a coach can conduct a series of drills that will be most beneficial to the development of his team. Proper, well conducted repetition of drills NEED to be a big part of a successful coach’s arsenal and is essential for a player to become proficient. However, improperly repeating that skill will undoubtedly have a reverse effect. That is, quality, not quantity must be the objective of all baseball drills, and my player would have been better off taking 20 really great quality cuts, and not the 50 worthless ones he got in.
Images by Christine Beck, Chrissybeck Photography, Chesapeake, VA
Baseball players, parents and coaches are constantly on the lookout for drills and skills that will make them or their players better, and rightly so. There is no doubt that baseball drills used wisely and correctly dramatically improve muscle memory, which in turn improves baseball skills. Keep in mind, however, that it’s not just that practice makes perfect, but that perfect practice makes perfect, and the PROPER repetition of skills is the best way to perform better. In essence, practice makes permanent! See the example above about my player not performing correct movements, and the need to adjust at all times in order to become better. The great game of baseball has so many different skills involved, that improvement in one or several of these can put you above your peers, make you the player that people come to see. You may not be able to improve speed, but you can improve base running and quickness to help yourself become a complete player. Perhaps an improvement in arm strength AND accuracy will let you climb ahead of the next pitcher on your team’s ladder. Maybe a slight improvement in footwork will elevate you to the starting shortstop, or working on your jab step to increase pop time will shoot you to the number one catcher position. Whatever the case, and whatever your aspirations, if you focus during practice and during drills, you WILL get better. And remember, continuing to work and do drills outside of practice, on your own, will also help you be a great ballplayer!
coaches, it is encumbent upon us to do what we can to ensure that our players continue to improve
and progress, and the baseball drills we work at practice allow them to do
this. These drills need to inform,
educate, prepare and energize our players, and many should be able to be done
outside of the field, at home or in a garage.
Keeping in mind that we practice like we play and we play like we
practice, if our practices are productive, it will be reflected on the field in
game results. While the ultimate goal of a coach may not be to own the best
record, it should be, especially in Little League and youth baseball, to get
the kids ready for high school ball and beyond.
Along those lines, doing the baseball drills properly and often enough
to develop the correct muscle memory necessary to improve their skills will
certainly lead to those further developed skills, which will undoubtedly help
them prepare for higher levels of baseball.
And on a side note, it will also result in the secondary goal of winning
a few more games, necessary to boost confidence and maybe give your kid some
bragging rights at school!
Check back here over the next days to weeks for our sections on drills, including youth drills, coach pitch drills, high school baseball drills, and more. Also, check out another one of Joey Myers great sites and his drills here at Swing Smarter Baseball Hitting Drills.
Base Running Drills
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