Increases Batting Practice Repetitions 20-30%
In all my years of coaching youth baseball, I have always
looked for the most efficient practice methods in every aspect of
baseball. It took me only a few years to realize that most youth
baseball coaches, including myself, were running batting practice,
not incorrectly, but inefficiently. From what I have seen in the
typical batting practice, a coach will pitch a predetermined
number of pitches to each batter with the fielders fielding the hit
balls and throwing them to first base. Usually the coach will yell
something like, "run the last one out,” and the batter does just
that. If the ball is hit to the infield, they try to throw him out at
first. If it is hit to the outfield, he usually runs until he is thrown
out. This is all good- intentioned, but it wastes valuable time
when a coach wants to run an efficient batting practice.
Here is the most efficient way of running a batting practice.
Batting practice is just what it sounds like, batting practice.
Batting practice is not fielding practice or baserunning practice.
So, all youth coaches and parents should really define what a
youth batting practice is and what they want to get out of it.
Most of my youth practices do not run more than one and a
half hours. Every minute of wasted time will affect other drills,
skills, and techniques I want to cover. The first thing a coach
needs to have is an overabundance of baseballs. The league will
provide baseballs, but I always make sure I purchase a few dozen
extra. I try to work with three dozen and keep an extra dozen in
my trunk. And I'm frugal about it, accounting for every baseball
at the end of practice. I try to make sure we find each one, and
after practice, we comb the field to make sure we got them all.
Usually we find extras and end up with more than what we
started with. I am extremely aware of the economic times we live
in but maintain if coaches need to spend any extra money, they
should do it on extra baseballs if their league doesn’t give them
Here are the actual logistics and set up that I use about 95% of
the time I run batting practice. I'm a big proponent of bunting. I
set up two cones on the third base line, about six feet apart,
approximately where the bunt is supposed to go. I set up two
empty buckets, one about three feet to the outfield side of second
base and the other one between the pitcher’s mound and second
base. I have another bucket with the baseballs on the mound
easily accessible to me. Now, this is a key. As a youth coach who
wants a well-run practice and a lot of repetitions for the kids, I
move up almost to the front base of the mound to pitch. I do this
mainly so I can throw strikes consistently. For safety purposes, an
"L" screen would be required from a shorter distance for safety.
If your league doesn't have any, make them get one.
I have the first person up at bat with the 2nd player or on deck
hitter ready to bat. By ready I mean he has to have helmet and his
batting gloves on. It is extremely important when switching
hitters to waste as little time as possible. I have the 3rd hitter or
double on deck hitter on the outside of the field hitting balls into
the fence on a batting tee using pickle balls (plastic) or Wiffle
balls with another parent feeding the balls on the tee. If there are
enough assistant coaches, I have one working with the 4th hitter
on the soft toss. So we have a lot of activity going on with four
kids including the batter not in the field.
The batter bunts the first to pitches. For each successful bunt,
the player receives an extra swing. I usually give players five
swings besides his two bunts. So if a player lays one of the two
bunts between the cones, he gets six regular swings. If he lays
both bunts between the cones, he gets seven swings (the
maximum per hitter). There are certain things that have to
happen to make this work. Remember, there are two buckets
strategically located. After the bunts, when the hitter swings away,
wherever the ball is hit, the fielder tosses it into the bucket nearest
to him. If it is hit to the outfield, he will throw the ball as close to
the bucket behind second base. If he hits it to the infield, the
fielder will toss it to the bucket behind the pitcher's mound.
Reinforce to the players that they must toss to the bucket on one
or two bounces or they will tend to play basketball with the
baseball and bucket.
The point here is that the fielders do not make a play to first
and the hitter does not run the last one out. We get more
repetitions in a short period of time. The players are always facing
the hitter. One might ask, isn't this boring for most of the players
in the field? Well, not really. Because of the amount of balls hit in
a short period of time, the ball is usually hit all over the place.
And the coach throwing batting practice will keep one or two
extra balls in his glove and is ready to pitch the next ball right
away. When out of baseballs, have the players in the infield hustle
to gather up the balls, combine buckets, and we're ready to go
again. This works great!
I have heard from people knocking holes in my method of
having a grown up throwing batting practice. Some people will
insist that it is better having a player throw batting practice with
the thought process being that the pitch itself should be as
realistic as possible. It is beneficial to the batter when he is seeing
the baseball at the correct angle rather than from a grown up and
the angle of the ball coming down is different than the batter sees
in a game. I have not tried every single method but I have found
what I described as the one that works for my team the most.
You as coach can try as many systems as you want and you make
the final decision.
Batting practice is a favorite of any baseball player at almost
every level. Do not deny batting practice at any practice. And
always look for the most efficient, safest ways to help enhance
your whole practice.