As you may notice in the numerous articles appearing on this site, we are big proponents of seeing the ball well. You must see it to hit it! There are many drills that have been around baseball for years and years that deal with seeing the ball, tracking the ball, identifying pitches, etc. Here are a few of our favorites.
Colored Horseshoe of Baseball
- This drill is used to warm up the eyes for live pitching.
- Color the ball between the inside seams and have the pitcher throw a variety of pitches from the mound or 60 feet 6 inches.
- In this drill, the batter picks up the spin as quickly as possible, calls out the pitch, and watches the ball into the catcher’s mitt.
- If the batter has trouble identifying the pitch before he throws it, this helps the batter pick up the type of pitch if they don’t recognize it at the release point. (Don’t hit the ball, just call it in flight.)
- Use 2-3 colored baseballs:
- Red = Take
- White = Hit Away
- Green = Drag
- The batter must react to the color of the ball as soon as he/she recognizes the color.
- The drill can be used with live pitching or soft toss.
Soft Toss/Self Toss
- Use XLR8 Speed Balls and toss the balls to yourself, hitting to all fields.
- The following drills or wrinkles to these drills can be added to make the task of hitting much more difficult and force better concentration by the batter.
- Use a XLR8 Speed Bat, or bat smaller than your regular bat.
- The tosser calls the field (right, left, center) he/she wants the ball hit as soon as the ball is about to be tossed. If the batter hits the ball to the wrong field or pops the ball up, the players switch positions. The batter can take pitches or the tosser can call for the batter to take a pitch. It the batter swings on a take call, he’s out and the players switch.
- The batter closes his/her eyes and opens them when the tosser calls “open.” The batter can take pitches or the tosser can hold the ball. If the player swings and no ball is thrown or pops the ball up the players switch.
- This drill teaches the player to pick up the pitch at the release point and to keep his/her head down on the swing.
- The batter calls out the number of fingers, 1-5, that the pitcher throws at the batter, swings and again calls out the number of fingers that a coach has flashed after the bat passes the plate.
- The coach flashing the numbers stands 5-6 feet in front of the outside corner of the plate.
- The drill can be made more difficult by having the pitcher use a ball and show pitches to the hitter without releasing the ball.
- The hitter would make the visual shift to the plate and hit a ball off a tee after calling out the pitch.
- To make the drill even harder, replace the single tee with a double tee, placing the inside tee (higher) about 3-4 feet in front of the inside corner and the second tee (lower) equal to the front point of the outside corner.
- The batter is now forced to see the ball at the release point and react to the pitch (FB, Curve, etc.) If the pitcher show fastball, the batter must turn and pull the ball off the inside tee. If the batter reads off speed pitch, the batter must drive the ball to right field off the outside tee. (Reverse the tees for a left-handed batter.)
Basic Visual Drills
- Hold a pencil at arm’s length. Focus on the pencil’s number and move the pencil toward you. When the number begins to blur, extend your arm and begin again. Then, hold one pencil in each hand one as close to your face as possible without the number blurring, and the other at arm’s length. Focus first on the near pencil (you may notice the distant pencil blurring into two images). Then stare at the far pencil. Alternate your focus, gradually increasing your speed. Do each exercise for five minutes, rest five minutes and repeat.
- Put press-on letters on a Wiffle ball, then hang the ball by a string in a doorway. Twist the string and, while the ball turns, identify as many letters as possible. Perform for three minutes, rest three minutes and repeat.