For me as a coach, there is always so much to work on, and so little time. I hate having kids just standing around, waiting for their turn at a station. So this is a solution I came up with, and it works great!
One of my more popular and productive practices utilizes this 11-station batting and pitching practice structure. This particular format will give your kids lots and lots of batting reps, while also giving you time to work with pitching and throwing mechanics on an individual basis.
This practice is an invigorating, non-stop, high-energy plan. It’s best, in my opinion, to follow this with a kid-pitch scrimmage, so they put it into action. Boy, were our kids hitting the heck out of the baseball when we did this!
The upside of this practice structure is that the kids are busy constantly, with no one waiting for a station. The downside is: for best results, it takes 5 coaches and/or parent helpers. However, most of it could be implemented with fewer helpers.
It will be essential for batting helmets to be worn throughout, and it’s up to you to evaluate your own situation, and modify as necessary to ensure safety is maintained.
It takes about 5-7 minutes per player per station, so altogether it takes about 60-90 minutes.
Here are the stations:
Station 1. Bunting drill. Coach teaches proper bunting mechanics to the player and pitches to him, having him execute what he’s learned. You can have them practice bunting to the left, to the right, and slash/bunt.
Stations 2-5. Batting Tee stations. Here we have four tees, each with a bucket of balls. It works best to have a coach monitoring these 4 stations to make sure everyone is doing the correct drills, and that safety is maintained. This coach also manages the timing for the whole exercise. He has them hit about 20 balls each, then they all grab their buckets and gather them and bring them back. By the time that all happens, it’s usually about 5-7 minutes. There are a wide variety of tee-drills you can use. Each of these 4 stations should have a different tee-drill.
Station 6. Total Control Balls (or similar weighted balls). At this station, it’s good to have a coach who can explain the mechanics behind how Total Control Balls will help you with your power hitting. It takes good batting mechanics, especially good load and follow-through, to make the TCB’s go any distance.
Station 7. Skinny bats (2 players). This station can be done right next to the TCB station, so the coach or helper who is there can monitor it’s being done correctly. One player will pitch golf-ball size whiffle balls to a player who has what I call a “skinny bat”. This is usually a bat with about a 1” barrel diameter. This exercise really helps to develop not only good hand-eye coordination, but also proper batting mechanics.
Station 8. Soft toss machine (or hand soft-toss if you have either an extra parent or player) We set this up so the batter is batting into the side of the batting cage. Safety will need to be monitored by the coach in the cage, especially when the balls are retrieved. If you don’t have a batting cage, then a portable net may suffice.
Station 9. Batting cage, live pitching. This is live pitching to batter. Here is where a coach can really work with batters by throwing fastballs, change ups, breaking balls, etc. If you don’t have access to a batting cage, you may be able to adjust how the stations are laid out and have live batting on the field, with your T stations off to the side where they are unlikely to be hit by a foul ball. Caution is recommended.
Stations 10-11. Pitching. If you have a bull-pen to pitch from, great. If not, you can get some throw-down home plates and pitching rubbers to use. Depending on how many players you have, this can be 1 or 2 stations. If there are 2 stations, a single coach can take care of both stations. Here’s how I like to do it:
At the first pitching station, the coach will have a tee set up with a softball or similar size ball on top of the tee. However, before getting to the tee, the coach will start them off with a towel drill to get the proper mechanics down. Then the coach will have the pitcher take anywhere from 5-10 throws to attempt to knock the softball off of the tee. This helps them to focus on accuracy.
At the second pitching station, the coach will have them do 10-15 pitches to the coach who is catching, who can help monitor their pitching mechanics and make any corrections that need to be made.
That’s it! Our boys love this practice format, and it sure does accomplish a lot in a limited amount of time.