Developing Hitters in PracticeJul 04, 2023
Gamify Batting Practice
As coaches, we want practice to carry over to the game. It can be frustrating to coach hitters who always do well in practice but never see it transition to the game. I’ve been there as a player and a coach.
I want hitters to feel pressure in practice.
I want hitters to feel stress in the cage.
So, when they start to feel it in the game, it’s nothing they haven’t already felt before.
While we can’t completely replicate the game in practice, we can do a better job of creating a game-like environment.
However, it’s a balancing act.
We want to challenge hitters but not so much to where they feel like they don’t have a chance to succeed.
I’ve seen coaches take this way too far. They crank the machine up to 100 mph (I’ve made this mistake before), and each hitter swings and misses at 90% of the pitches, leaving them frustrated and discouraged.
However, it’s still important to challenge them and make it game-like.
How can we do that?
We Need To Gamify Practice
Here's how, step by step:
Step 1: Exit Velo Game
This is my favorite game to play to this day.
I know that only some have access to a HitTrax, Trackman, or Rapsodo, but you can still pull it off with a radar gun and some ropes to measure the launch angle in the cage.
Here’s how the game is played.
To get 1 point:
A hitter must hit the ball between a launch angle of 10-30 degrees. (This is going to be level dependent)
Then you take the max exit velocity of each hitter
Subtract 10 mph.
And that is the velocity range they must hit the ball to score a point.
My max exit velocity is 100 mph.
So, for me to get 1 point
I must hit a ball between 10-30 LA and at least be hit 90 EV.
6 swings per round for each hitter.
First one to 15 wins. (How much time you have will dictate what you play too)
The winner has earned the right to get better, so they get to do 10 pushups while every else stays the same and watches. (Wait till you see the look on the winner's face, Lol.)
There are so many ways you can get creative with this game.
- Machine pitch
- Coach pitch
The players love it, and it gets them to feel some pressure while having fun and instilling good habits.
I normally will put players on teams when doing this.
- 12 hitters
- 3 teams
- 4 hitters on a team
Step 2: 1 Pitch Round
Normally in batting practice, hitters get 6 swings each round. However, once the game comes around, they don’t get a do-over after they put the ball in play.
So why not put this same concept into play in practice as well?
Why not 1 swing per round?
That’s it, 1.
This is best done after the regular batting practice. (Players won’t be happy if all of BP is 1 swing per round)
Coach is pitching to the hitters.
He can throw FB or breaking ball.
It’s a live AB.
Balls and strikes.
4 players a team
3 teams competing
Each time a hitter gets a hit (the head coach is the judge), they get 1 point.
The first team to 10 wins, or however much time you have.
It’s fun, competitive, and gets hitters a little closer to feeling what they will feel when they step up to the plate at 7:00
Step 3: Define Success
I’ve seen hitters get very frustrated when they hit off the machine.
They might hit 2-3 balls on the barrel and then miss hit 4 in a year, leaving them frustrated.
I will then stop them and explain that we aren’t supposed to barrel every ball off the machine.
The goal should be 4 barrels out of 10 swings.
That means you could miss hit 6 straight balls in a row.
It’s the same concept as the game.
When you explain this to them, you can tell they’ve never thought about it that way before in practice.
I'd love to hear how this works for you the next time you have practice with your team.
1. Exit Velo Game
2. 1 Pitch Round
3. Define Success
Whenever you're ready, there's 1 way I can help you:
1. Transfer Portal
I'm currently working with players in the Transfer Portal, and helping them find a new school to play at.
If you need help finding a new school, please email me: jonesbaseballtraining@gmail.