While baseball can only be played during warmer months in many parts of the country, there are a number of ways in which hitters can work to improve their offensive performance during the winter months. It’s not just about visiting the gym and staying in shape, it’s about incorporating drills that can help in enhancing your technique at the plate. Here are five ways that can help improve any hitter’s offensive performance while waiting for the warmer weather to arrive.
1. Using a Batting Tee
The key to good hitting mechanics is all about muscle memory. When working to improve batting technique, it’s important to follow the same exact stance, setup and follow-through with each swing. In working with a batting tee, any hitter can concentrate on repeating the same swing again and again to develop the same batting motion with each swing. Good mechanics leads to a solid plate approach, and by committing to the same swing through muscle memory will automatically help a hitter in the long run. Without actually hitting a ball, a batting tee can be effectively used in a gym to work on swing mechanics.
2. Learn to Take a Lead
Base running can be just as important an offensive weapon as hitting. Oftentimes taking an extra base can be the difference between a win and a loss in a close game. During the winter, all that’s needed for this drill is one bag. Players can then learn to practice taking their leads. A good base runner eventually knows exactly how large of a lead to take without being picked off. Players should learn to get comfortable with their leads off the base without having to look back as they are moving off. Learning how to take a lead can eventually lead to taking that extra base.
3. Reading Signs as You Run
The key to good base running is never looking down. One way to learn how to properly run without looking is to find a long hallway. Pick out some sort of sign located farther down the hallway and start running while never peeling your eyes off the sign. This drill helps players keep their eyes up at all times and have more of an awareness of what’s going on around them. In time, they’ll learn to follow the signs of their base coaches with their eyes as well.
4. Learning to Keep Hands Inside the Ball
This drill incorporates the use of a bat and a wall. The hitter should position himself close enough to a wall where an extended swing causes the bat to hit the wall. The hitter should then learn to take a swing without hitting the wall. This works in helping keep the hands in on an inside pitch at the point of contact.
5. Simply Using a Mirror
It may sound silly, but practicing your swing in front of a mirror can yield great benefits. As mentioned above, muscle memory is an important component to developing a sound and effective swing. By practicing a swing in front of a mirror, hitters can quickly find flaws and work to correct them. Once the swing has been corrected and the hitter can take the same swing over and over again in front of them, they can move on to tee work and eventually to work in the batting cages.
All of these tips are designed to help hitters keep sharp during the winter months. Without the benefit of space, these drills can help in improving offensive performance without playing in a single game. A more prepared hitter will have an edge once the season starts if they’ve worked on honing their skills during the winter months.