Baseball may be known as a team sport but it’s not a sport that needs to be practiced with a team. The best way to enhance your skills is to practice by yourself. Team practice is for understanding things like cut offs, bunt defense, pick off plays and other team activities. Practicing these different plays will help your team get better but will not necessarily make you a more skilled baseball player. To get better as a player it’s important to practice on your own. Here are some ways you can practice on your own or with one other person.
Hitting (Hitting off a Tee)
Everyone’s favorite part of practice is batting practice, where they get to see how hard and far they can hit a baseball. The problem with batting practice is how kids handle it. A lot of kids see batting practice as a homerun derby with the ball perfectly placed each time (or waiting for a perfectly placed one) and swinging for the fences. When you hit off a Tee, your goals can be made more appropriate for trying to become a better hitter and can be made more realistic to game situations when done correctly. The goal of hitting the ball off the tee is to try and square up the ball as much as possible because almost all results will be the same anyways. Hitting off a tee allows you to forget about your surroundings and concentrating on increasing your strength and using proper technique. Placing the Tee in different locations that represent where an actual ball may be pitched to you - raise and lower the Tee, place it closer to you and further away - can help you learn what adjustments your body will need to make to square up on a ball based on the pitch location.
pick off moves,
As players get older and play at higher and higher levels of baseball, keeping runners out of scoring position is even more crucial than at younger ages. This is true because as players get older they typically make less errors and pitchers throw more strikes, thus reducing the number of runs scored. Scoring is at a premium and thus preventing extra bases is as well. One way pitchers can help themselves and their time is by developing an effective pickoff move to first.
Right handed pitchers here in the Greater Toronto Area - and likely just about anywhere they play baseball - typically come equipped with the basic step off the rubber method. This is where the pitcher disengages the rubber with their back foot and throws to first. This is a great move to learn as one's first move as it is relatively safe and simple and every once in a while just might catch a sleepy baserunner off guard. The problem however is at higher levels this move is just not that effective anymore. As the back foot comes off the rubber it provides baserunners with too much time to recognize the pick off. In some cases pitchers might even step off and not throw as the runner is already back to the bag. This completely defeats the purpose of the pick off, which is to hold the runner close, decreasing their jump and chances of reaching scoring position.
pick off moves,
controlling the running game