The ultimate compliment that any baseball player can get is that they’re a ‘five-tool player.’ This refers to a player who can hit for a high batting average, hit with power, is a fast, skilled base runner, can throw well, and also happens to be a top-notch fielder. Becoming skillful in these areas of the game requires a lot of hard work, dedication, and practice. That’s why we’ve designed a 60-minute practice plan that will focus on sharpening these specific skills.
The majority of these drills will require two players. So, call up a buddy and head out to the ball field.
Once you’re at the field, it’s important to do at least five to 10 minutes of dynamic stretches like high-knees, forward lunges, side lunges, and shuffles before you get started. While static stretches are usually reserved for the cool down, with baseball you may choose to do a few static stretches before throwing in order to loosen up your arm.
If you need an extra boost before practice, sports nutrition supplements like Six Star’s Pre-Workout Explosion offer extreme energy and focus with a scientifically researched dose of caffeine.
THROWING (10 Minutes Total)
Drill 1 (5 Minutes): Grip, Release, & Rotation
For the Grip, Release & Rotation Drill, stand about five feet apart from your partner without gloves on. Focus on your grip; making sure that you’re both throwing with a 4-seem grip. Then, while being mindful of your release point, make sure that you’re getting proper rotation on the ball. The key to this drill is making sure that you’re using proper form while throwing. It’ll also warm you up for the other drills still to come.
Drill 2 (5 Minutes): Quick Catch
This Quick Catch Drill is designed to help you with your footwork and rhythm, while using both hands to catch the ball. Standing 20 feet away from your workout buddy, play catch while getting rid of the ball as quickly as possible. As you do this drill, be aware of how you’re transferring the baseball from your glove to your throwing hand. You want to be throwing the ball, catching the ball, and then throwing it back to your partner as fast as possible, while still under control.
FIELDING (20 Minutes)
Drill 1 (10 Minutes): Ground Balls
This Ground Balls Drill will reinforce the complete ground ball process for you. Have your friend hit you ground balls and focus on proper execution when fielding them. Start in ready position, with your weight on the balls of your feet for an optimal first step. Then after the ball’s hit, approach the ball and get down into the fielding triangle position, which is created by your two feet (as the base of the triangle) and your hands as the point of the triangle. This position provides the best chance for you to cleanly field a ground ball. After fielding the ball, focus on your exit footwork, which are the movements you’ll use when leaving the fielding triangle. For a right-handed thrower, the footwork will be right foot, left foot, shuffle, and throw.
Drill 2 (5 Minutes): Dive Bomber Drill
Another two-person drill, the Dive Bomber Drill works on catching the ball while running, and proper running technique. This drill will improve your angles and lines to the ball, as well as your outfield range. Player 1 will jog to Player 2 and toss a baseball to Player 2 when close. Then Player 1 will run around Player 2 and go out for a football-style pass. Player 2 will throw the ball so Player 1 must track the ball down and catch it on the move. Each player should do a few reps from both sides in order to practice catching balls over both shoulders.
Drill 3 (5 Minutes): Come Up Throwing Drill
The Come Up Throwing Drill is a drill designed for outfielders, which works on proper timing to and through the ball, proper outfield throwing mechanics, and accuracy. The player fielding the ball and throwing during this drill will stand about 100 feet away from his or her partner. The partner will either hit or roll a ball toward the outfielder who will charge the ball, field it outside his or her glove foot while moving, and will proceed through the proper crow hop and throwing motion for outfielders. The outfielder can throw to a base, partner, net, or the backstop.
HITTING FOR A HIGH AVERAGE (15 Minutes Total)
Drill 1 (5 Minutes): Soft Toss
To work on your timing, you can do this Soft Toss Drill. You’ll need another person to feed you underhand tosses from a 45-degree angle for this drill. Standing near a backstop, the batter will wait for his or her partner to toss the ball and then will hit it into the backstop. The emphasis of the batter should be keeping everything in line and focusing on quick hands, with the hands going forward really strong. Do about 25 swings and then switch with your partner.
Drill 2 (5 Minutes): One-Handed Drill
For this One-Handed Drill, you’ll need a soft toss thrower or you can use a tee if you’re doing this drill alone. It’s also a good idea to start with a lighter bat than you typically use when hitting since swinging with one hand is more difficult than it looks. To get started, grip the bat with your bottom hand (choke up if you need to) and place your opposite hand across your body on your opposite hip. Then take as normal of a swing as you can at the ball, making sure that your swing includes the load, swing, and follow through. In order to hit the ball effectively, you’ll need to stay ‘short to the ball.’ Take 5-10 swings with one hand and then switch to the other hand and repeat this process. You will fix any swing defects that you have by doing this drill, and will also gain forearm strength.
Drill 3 (5 Minutes): Target Bunting
Being able to handle the bat in all situations will make you an extremely valuable player to your team. This Target Bunting Drill is set up to improve your directional bunting skills and work on having ‘soft hands’ while bunting. Place hula hoops (or even different colored baseball hats) in front of home plate, in the first base line, and in the third base line. Then have your friend pitch to you and tell you where he or she wants you to bunt – either in or near the hula hoop in front of home plate, in the first base line, or in the third base line. As the batter, do your best to execute the bunt in the direction of your target. Then switch with your partner and let him or her practice bunting. To make a game of this drill, award points to the different colored hula hoops (or hats). The player who has the most points at the end of the drill wins.
HITTING FOR POWER (10 Minutes Total)
Drill 1 (5 Minutes): The Flamingo Drill
The Flamingo Drill is a power hitting drill that focuses on balance, bat control, and lower half rotation. You can also do this drill by yourself, needing only a bat, ball, tee and a net (or a backstop) to complete it. Start on your back leg with your front leg raised at a 90-degree angle. Then from there, concentrate on controlling your stride to the tee while loading your hands. Attack the baseball as you swing, leading with your lower half as you explode through the baseball. Finish through the ball while rotating your back toward home plate. For righty hitters, your back shoulder should be pointed toward the shortstop. For lefties, your back shoulder should be pointed toward the second baseman.
Drill 2 (5 Minutes): Big Leg Kick Power Drill
To generate some extra power, change up your usual batting stance and add a big leg kick as you hit. Doing this during batting practice will help with your balance, timing, and make you more aware of how you’re using your lower body. For inspiration, you can watch some of your favorite hitters with a big leg kick and then try to imitate them for this drill.
BASE RUNNING (5 Minutes Total)
Toward the end of practice, it’s a good idea to start cooling down. Running the bases will accomplish just that for you and your partner. Since you’re dedicated to honing your skills, you can add in a Sliding Drill to finish off your practice.
Drill 1 (5 Minutes): Sliding Drill
Start at first base and wait for your partner to say, “Go!” Then sprint full speed toward second base and form a figure ‘4’ with your legs as you approach second base. Then sit down and slide into the base, holding your hands up high. By keeping your hands high when you slide, it’ll help you avoid injury, and also allow you to pop up easily and head to the next base on an overthrow. To protect your ankle, make sure that your foot is tucked under your leg when you slide. Your knees should also be flexible to avoid jamming.
You can also do some static stretches at the end of practice as part of your cool down, holding each stretch for at least 15 to 20 seconds. And for those of you looking to build muscle and increase strength, while also supporting your recovery, there are sports nutrition options available such as Six Star 100% Whey Protein Plus.