Application of Hitting Drills
A drill is a way of teaching and developing skills through repetition. The best drills not only serve as great tools for skill development, but also keep players engaged and active during practice sessions.
A key component to maximizing drill work is to not rush the hitter. The hitter should work on having the same physical setup, as well as the same relaxed thought process for each pitch. This allows the hitter to slow the game down, relax, see the ball, and hit the ball. The goal should always be for the hitter to be able to repeat their mechanics in a controlled environment so that it carries over to games.
There are three main purposes for running drills. It is important to select drills with purposes that match your practice goals. The three main purposes of drills are to:
- Introduce Skills
- Drills that introduce new skills to players should target a very specific goal. The players should be given plenty of time to complete the drill so that they retain the new skills. When introducing a new skill, use drills that are repetitive, focused, and work on one fundamental at a time.
- Maintain Skills
- Drills that maintain skills of players focus on repeating skill sets so they become instinct. When using drills that maintain skills, it is important that the drills are repetitive and illustrate, evaluate, and measure execution of the skills. These drills should be done in a game-like manner.
- Perfect Skills
- Drills that aim to perfect skills focus not only on the skills themselves, but also on communication, timing, accuracy, and consistency. These drills require more preparation and commitment and are typically more demanding on players. Every aspect of the skill set must come together in one drill.
Overall, drills are a great way to achieve goals, teach players new skills, and perfect skills players already have. Here are some keys to remember when selecting drills:
- The length of the drill should depend on the skill level and ages of your players
- Short drills done with intensity are more effective than longer drills with downtime
- Repetition is key to retaining new skills and maintaining old skills
- Organize drills to fit players' needs
- Plan ahead for equipment you may need for drills to reduce time spent setting up for drills
- Create a practice plan that easily flows from one drill to the next
- Study the drills so that you are able to easily explain them to players
Making the Drills Game-like
Drills that are done to maintain or perfect skills should be done at game speed. This means that these drills should be made challenging enough to mimic the speed at which a player would need to complete the skills in a game. To make a drill game-like you can:
- Speed up the drill
- Add base runners to defensive drills
- Combine hitting and fielding drills
- Add base runners to offensive situation drills
- Make drills a competition
- Encourage players to play at full speed
- Time each drill and have players try to beat the previous time with each new repetition
- Encourage communication and teamwork between players
- Have players visualize themselves in games during the drill