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Since we have little if any time with organized sports right now we are now turning into homeschool baseball coaches too.
So, I wanted to throw out a few ideas that you can use at home for home baseball drills if you have a motivated baseball kid(s).
Some of the drills can be done by themselves and some need a partner like a sibling, neighbor, parent.
1. Play catch:
If mom and/or dad or sibling can just play catch. Ball handling and catching the ball are basic skills. Glove fingers pointed up if the ball is above the belt and fingers down if the ball is below the belt.
2. Play "21"
This is a catch and throw game played against each other. For this game only, the one catching the ball is like a statue and you don’t move your body like you normally would.
The other person tries to hit you in the head or chest. When you catch the ball, you sort of ‘stick it’ and hold it there for a moment to judge where it would have hit you.
If the ball would have hit you in the upper body areas you get points. I like 3 points for a head shot. 2 points for an upper body shot. And 1 point if you want to award below the belt shot.
Each player tracks their own points and the first to “21” is the winner. Or play to “15’ or whatever. The catcher person is the “judge” so they have to be honest!
3. Hot Potato Catch:
Partners get about 30ft to 40ft apart depending on age. This is for improving the transition of catching the ball and getting rid of the ball quickly.
This is a very fundamental skill but most players are not very good at it. Players face each other and spread your feet in a basketball ‘guarding position’. Without moving your feet, now start tossing the ball back and forth with the idea of not catching the ball, but instead stopping the ball with the glove and immediately picking the ball off the pocket of the glove with the throwing hand and tossing it back.
The upper body can swivel a bit but the feet try to stay put. Pretend the ball is a ‘Hot Potato’ and it will burn your hand if it stays in your glove very long.
The players are quickly working the ball out of the glove and back to their partner without moving the feet—so it’s a feet isolation drill just handling the ball transferring skills (which are extremely important to be able to play high levels of baseball). Add a Game to it: Try to get 10 in a row. Put a stop watch on how long it takes to get to 10.
SIDE NOTE: Throwing elbow should cock back into a bow and arrow position. Many kids will just drop the elbow down and flip the ball back while trying to get rid of ball so quick.
4. Fast Catch:
Same as Hot Potato Catch but the feet quickly shuffle once during the ball transitioning catch and throw. Usually can back up and throw the ball a little harder.
1. Pretend Bullpens:
Highly recommend a mask and c’s gear if you have it. If not, I would just do a half-catchers squat so you can ‘bale out’ if the ball is in the dirt. Don’t need anyone injured.
Pick a MLB hitter to strikeout. Catcher is the umpire. Work the count and try to get 3 strikeouts. Use a cardboard homeplate, chalk or make up your own.
2. Pop ups:
Toss short pop-ups. Move them around left and right, back and in so they have to a move a few steps if you have room. Make a game of it counting each out or track catches and misses.
Roll some grounders right at them and then move them around a few steps. Make up a game of it again. Don’t need a lot of room. Don’t need to bat them-just toss or roll the grounders. Glove side, backhands, short hops. 1B picks in the dirt.
4. Wall Ball:
If you have a block house, garage door or firm wall. Tennis balls work really well. Kids can self-toss the ball against the wall and work on transitioning the ball from the glove to the throwing position (I call it the Bow & Arrow throwing position).
Kids can play wall ball indoors with a tennis ball just on their knees and catching barehanded or with a glove in an area 4-6ft from the wall.
5. Whiffle Ball:
Very good to have if you are staying close to home. The wiffleballs don’t travel far. Make up games and bases.
1. One-Knee Pepper:
Pepper is a game that used to be very common around baseball but has diminished for some reason. Pepper is usually played with 2 or 3 fielders and a hitter.
Fielders are spaced about 30’-35’ from the batter. The fielder with the ball tosses a pitch to the batter who ‘peppers’ the ball back toward the fielders. It is not a bunt nor is it a full swing. It is a choke-up grip and light striking of the ball controlling the firmness and the direction—hence building ‘bat control’ (and ball handling for the fielders).
My method at home is have the batter take a knee with their back knee, choke-up on the bat and tap the ball back to the fielder. Fielder and batter get about 20’ apart. The fielder can underhand the ball to control the speed and accuracy of the pitch.
Again, it is not a bunt---just an easy tap trying to barrel up on the ball and controlling the exit speed off the bat using a choke-up grip. Obviously, the batter using a choke-up grip has to control the swing so they don’t hit the ball too hard when they are this close.
As a batter, it’s like you are playing ping-pong with a bat and a ball instead of a paddle.
2. Bean Bag
Kids 7 & under get better eye-hand coordination just self-tossing and catching a bean bag. Make up games for them. Puts some beans or rice in a sock and make one yourself.
Even balloons are fun to bat around and catch for kids 6 & under.
3. General Fitness:
‘Burpees’ (sometime called ‘Up-Downs’). I’m sure you have done these or you kids have done them. These are an excellent do in place exercises. Stand upright. Go to a ‘frog position’. Extend to a pushup position. Do a pushup. Shift the feet back to a ‘frog position’. Then stand up. Repeat. Start with a set of 5 reps and add one each day to build up to 10 or so.
There is much more you can do if you have a soft-toss net, batting tee and more room but I will leave that up to you to decide.
Ping-pong is a great game to develop eye-hand coordination especially for hitters.
Hoops: If you are lucky to have a basketball hoop in the driveway then this is really good activity.
SIDE NOTE: When ever possible think of ways to make it a game, mine-game, score, some type of competition so the kids are always 'playing a game'. There is no right or wrong way--just try things out.
These home drills for baseball are to add reps for kids and allow parents to have fun and enjoy playing with each other.
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