Thursday, September 15, 2005
Team Practice Drill
The Hit and Run can be one of the hardest plays to execute in baseball. Many times, coaches can not create good Hit and Run players just by working on the skill during batting practice. This team drill allows hitters to focus on the Hit and Run off the tee, while allowing the defense to work on the double play. By using the tee, hitters can have an increase of repetition and success, before using the skill during batting practice sessions. Also, the drill allows baserunners to work on Hit and Run steals, letting them familiarize the steps needed to be successful in moving up a base.
Objective: Players will practice incorporating an inside-out style of swing while middle infielders will focus on double play turns.
Defense: 2nd basemen, shortstops, 1st basemen
Offense: Outfielders, 3rd basemen, and catchers
Materials: Tee, baseballs, gloves, and bat
Methods: The 2nd basemen, shortstop, and 1st basemen will start on the field. They will assume their defensive positions, standing at double play depth. Outfielders, 3rd basemen, and catchers will be at the plate. A tee with be set up, with the pitch being located in the middle of the plate. The coach can vary the height of the tee. Players will be asked to drive the ball to the right side, focusing on the “4” side that should open up during a hit and run from a right-handed pitcher. An emphasis should be placed on hitting the ball hard on the ground. When the ball is struck, 2nd basemen should carry out a double play with the shortstop. The coach can continue to move the tee toward the outside corner of the plate, stimulating an outside fastball from a right-handed pitcher. When the ball is out off the plate, the hitter can focus on driving the ball even harder to the right side. The 1st basemen can play off the bag and practice making diving plays or even routine plays if the hitter uses a sharp angle.
When that circuit is completed, the coach can place the tee on the inner-half of the plate and simulate a left handed pitcher throwing inside. The hitter should focus on driving the ball on the ground through the “6/5” lane. The hitter should focus on hitting the ball hard on the ground to the proper hitting lane. The shortstop, playing a little in the hole, should field the ball and carry out a double play with the 2nd and 1st basemen. The coach can gradually move the tee toward the middle of the plate and adjust the height of the pitch. The 3rd basemen can be incorporated into this drill playing off the bag and practice making diving plays, like the 1st basemen did in the first circuit.
When a team runs this drill successfully, many variations can be incorporated. First, instead of using the tee, the coach can flip soft toss to the batter. This practice could really help the speed up the repetitions. Secondly, baserunners can be added to practice the proper fundamentals of running from 1st-2nd during a hit and run call. Also, the baserunners provide competition for the middle infielders, who need game type stimulations while turning the double play by incorporating sliding to their approach.
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