Best Pitching Drills
Pitching is one of the most important aspects of baseball and the overall success of your team. It can be tough to find the best pitching drills that are effective without wasting your time.
Luckily, there are a handful that any coach can help put to use on their team for their pitchers. The best ones are fun, but also rewarding to the pitcher.
If pitchers are stepping too far and not utilizing their stride foot, then the stride drill will help correct this. It will help with shortening their stride and limit the amount of space they are using on their striding foot.
To begin this drill, you will need a pad that is big enough for the pitcher to aim at. This will need to be placed at the front of the pitching rubber, with a distance equal to or slightly greater than the pitcher’s height.
The coach will tell the pitcher not to touch the pad with their striding foot while moving through their pitching motion. This will help the pitcher gain more control over the speed and direction of the ball.
If you do not have a pad available, you could always have the pitcher point their toes of their stride foot down before any contact with the ground.
Pitching Accuracy Drills
One of the more fun drills for pitchers to compete in is an accuracy drill. You can get the entire pitching team involved and make it a friendly competition.
You will need some sort of target to aim at, like a goal post or even a large trash can. Pitchers will need to stand roughly 60 feet away from the target and they will throw fastballs at it.
The coach can turn this into a competition and say that the winner has to hit the target 10 or 15 times in order to win. Make a rule that they are only allowed a certain amount of misses or they have to start over.
Pitchers need to overcome their fear of hitting another player when pitching. In this drill, you will need two adults, a bucket full of balls, and the bullpen.
If no bullpen is available, the adults will need to stand about four or so feet apart. If there are not two adults available, the pitcher could set up two buckets on one chair each to have a small window to throw between.
The adults will need to stand across from one another in the batter’s box. The pitcher will begin lobbing balls down the middle of them, until he feels confident that he will not hit them. The pitcher should slowly increase velocity until they are throwing fastballs.
Once the pitcher is confident and consistent, one of the adults needs to crowd the plate. The adults will take turns crowding the plate and the pitcher will have to make adjustments in order to throw strikes.
Pitching Velocity and Techniques
There are tons of velocity and technique drills to pinpoint exact movements in a throw. Depending on what a pitcher needs to improve on will greatly determine what velocity drill they need.
Most of these drills should be done on a level surface since they require back and forth movement. If possible, pitchers should practice these in a gym or in an area where they can throw a ball roughly 15 feet at a wall.
Rock Back and Forth
While this drill is similar to the rocker step you will see below for balance, this one is strictly rocking before the wind up. Pitchers should have a target in place before they begin their motion.
The pitcher will begin to rock back and forth in their stance before the wind up. After rocking for three times, the pitcher will wind up like normal and release the ball with their throw.
This drill should be done on a level surface and not a mound. The pitcher will have their feet shoulder width apart and begin to move with their lead foot just a few inches forward.
The back foot should follow the lead foot and run into it, giving it a “click”. Once the back foot has hit the front foot, the pitcher then steps forward into their pitching motion.
The pitcher stands shoulder width apart as if they are about to wind up for their pitch. With a slight squat and bend of the knees, the pitcher will jump back away from the target.
One they have landed, the pitcher will extend their lead foot out and continue their throwing motion. This drill requires focus on the timing of the throw and keeping balance while moving.
Turn and Burn
The pitcher will begin this drill and have their back to the plate or target. After a few seconds or whenever the coach says go, the pitcher will turn into the direction of the target to throw the ball.
This drill puts an emphasis on proper foot placement and keeping their head forward towards the target. Any misstep or balance issues will cause the pitcher to sway and not throw accurately.
This drill is exactly as it sounds, as the pitcher will walk into their throwing technique. The pitcher will begin with their feet shoulder width apart and take two steps forward, starting with their lead leg.
After those two steps, the pitcher should begin their pitching motion and follow through with the completion of the ball being released. Coaches should keep an eye on mechanics and make sure the pitcher is not elevating or starting too low on the wind up.
This drill works best if you have a pitching net to stop the ball after the throw, but it can be done against a wall too. Pitchers will take a step forward with their pitching leg, then followed by their lead leg.
Once the lead leg is beginning to be placed on the ground, the pitcher will turn and throw to the target. All of this will be one fluid motion, but the pitcher may take their time to get this movement down.
Pitch Balancing Drill
One of the easiest drills any pitcher can do is the balance drill. While many pitching drills have some form of balance in the work that is being done, this one specifically targets the beginning stages of balance upon winding up.
The pitcher will begin the drill with both feet on the pitching rubber or mound. They should bring up their lead leg as they normally would to begin their pitching motion.
When the pitcher has their leg held comfortably at their highest peak, they should hold that spot for at least 10 seconds. After holding it for a period of time, they will simply place it back on the ground.
This drill will help pitchers find their balance points when lifting their drive leg. Pitchers that have issues with balance will typically fall forward too early and have issues with velocity.
Hand Rhythm Drill
The hand rhythm drill is quite a simple warmup that every pitcher should do while waiting around for the next drill at practice. This one focuses on the mechanics, specifically when winding up, and can be done anywhere.
To begin, the pitcher puts their hands together while bribing their elbow in on their glove arm. The pitching arm will remain in a cocked position during this time.
Both arms should be in sync with one another and move about at the same pace. It is important that one hand does not go faster than the other, as this will mess up the motion and timing.
When both hands are moving at the same pace, the pitcher should add their step back and then add their kick to finish the drill. This will help pitchers slow things down and focus on every movement of their pitching mechanics.
Every pitcher has to have great balance in addition to their mechanics. If one or the other is off, then the pitcher will have issues with dominating on the mound.
When it comes to pitching stance, the entire group of pitchers can do this together while waiting for the next drill or simply as a warmup. All pitchers should line up roughly six feet apart with their gloves and without a ball.
It is important to note that these drills need to be executed in order to ensure pitchers are getting the results they need to move onto the next step. The pitcher should not move onto the next drill until they can master each move or mechanic, which will take time. Rushing a pitcher for the sake of time will only hurt their performance and the teams’.
Pitchers will need to go through each step of their pitching motion from start to finish. For the coach, it is their job to watch every movement to see if something is off.
The pitcher should be evenly distributing their weight for each foot during the process. While their eyes are focused on the target, their gloves need to be held with the palm facing up.
At the end, their throwing hand is down and conceals the ball. Any adjustments can be made during the phase of the drill to allow the pitcher to correct in real time.
Pitchers will focus on pivoting and balance with the rocker step. They will rock their body back and step with their stride foot backwards away from the rubber.
While doing this step back, it needs to be short and simple. Their head needs to remain over the foot that is under the arm that the pitcher uses to throw.
The foot that is being used to pivot, on the same side as the hand with the ball, needs to square off. This should be parallel to the rubber.
At this point, pitchers should begin bringing their stride leg up in a slow but controlling motion and transfer weight to the pivoting leg. Coaches should watch as pitchers hold their balance and continue to do so until they say stop.
When the striding leg hits the highest point of elevation, coaches need to instruct their pitchers to separate their hands with their thumbs down. The pitchers will do this as they begin their stride towards the home plate.
The emphasis will need to be placed on falling forward to make sure balance is still consistent. The head and knee have to be on the same side as the glove, while allowing the elbow and shoulder to take over the lead.
While pitchers are falling forward, coaches have to watch for the firmness of the pivot legs. Any collapse will alter the release point of the pitch and affect the power.
The arms and body together need to form the letter “T” as the stride foot makes contact with the ground. It is up to the coaches to make sure pitchers are bending their knees upon impact.
Follow Through and Release
Have pitchers make the “T” position and begin focusing on the end of the pitch. Their throwing shoulder will need to accelerate in a powerful motion towards home plate in order to deliver a great movement and follow through.
The coach will need to see if the pitcher’s head is moving directly over their stride as they release and follow through. They also need to check the pitcher’s upper body is extending towards home plate.
The throwing elbow needs to be even or just slightly up higher than the throwing shoulder while the throwing arm moves forward. While completing this motion, the pitcher needs to make an effort to extend their elbows fully, keep their wrist straight, and keep their fingers on top of the ball.
In addition, the pivot foot needs to rotate up and out in order to allow weight to transfer. This movement of weight will be shifted from the back foot to the front foot.