Indoor Batting Cage Practice: Our Set-up Chart

Station #1:  Cage Sequence #1: 3-2-7-1 (track 3, 2 sacs, 7 cuts, 1 H&R)
Station #2:  Cage Sequence #2: 2-7-1 (2 sacs, 7 cuts, 1 H&R)
Station #3:  Cage Sequence #3: 2-8-1-1 (2 sacs, 8 cuts, 1 H&R, 1 Squeeze)
Station #4:  Cage Sequence #4: 2-6-1-1-1 (track 2, 6 cuts, 1 sac, 1 H&R, 1 Squeeze)
Station #5:  Cage Sequence #5: 1-NO ROCKS IN THE AIR!!!

                                                Drill List

1.        Vision Soft toss (No side or standing feeders)

2.        Launch & Drop (up the middle to opposite field)

3.        Battle with the paddle

4.        Battle with the paddle top hand

5.        Lite-Flite Bunt

6.        Launch

7.        Dot Drill

8.        Vision Tee

9.        High Tee

10.     Tee Walk-ups

11.     Hitting discs

12.     Front Toss Whiffle Balls

What you see above is basically the chart that is used during the season when we are stuck inside due to weather.  Our cage area has space limitations.  Therefore, we have to be creative utilizing the space that we have. This chart serves as a portion of a practice plan. It will be posted.  The players are placed into their hitting groups.  They should be able to look at the chart, understand where they should be, and what they are to do once they get there. It usually takes 2-3 three times for the players to totally understand the process, but when they get used to it, it’ll be like clockwork.

Here’s how the chart is used.  The top of the chart is a map that displays the numbered cage station areas. It also shows the direction in which the players are to rotate.  The table in the middle of the chart has Stations 1-5 listed.  The coach is to write in drills for each station from the drill list at the bottom. Then, the coach is to circle a cage sequence to be followed once any given hitting group rotates into the machine area of the cage. The whole team rotates when the group on the machine is done. There is no reason for any one on the team to be standing around. 

Everyone has a place to be and a purpose once they get there.  By planning ahead of time there is less wasted time and more time for the coaches to float around and work with hitters.  This is typically used in 45-60 minute session.  We try to get everyone to each station twice.  Each player should get between 100-125 cuts.  If a player gets less than that, it’s on them for not working hard enough.

Advertisements

Basic Bunt Coverage #4: Runner at 1st

Situation: Runner at 1st, less than 2 outs

Description of responsibilities by position:

C: The catcher must first check for any short bunts in front of the plate. In which case, C fields the bunt and 3B retreats to cover third base. Ultimately, we want the C and 3B to switch responsibilities.  The point of this coverage is to bait the runner and third base coach into thinking that third base has been abandonded.  An easy out or run-down could occur which may lead to a double play after the initial out at first base is made.

1B: The first baseman is responsible for fielding a bunt on the right side of the infield beyond the range of the catcher. The first baseman must charge hard as soon as the hitter shows bunt.

2B: The second baseman rotates to cover 1st base. This player may cheat towards first base in an obvious bunt scenario.

SS: The shortstop rotates to cover second base for a possible force play.

3B: The third baseman is responsible for fielding a bunt on the left side of the infield beyond the range of the catcher. The third baseman must charge hard as soon as the hitter shows bunt. If another player fields the bunt, the third baseman must retreat back to cover third base.

P: The pitcher is responsible for fielding any bunt in front of home plate out of the range of the catcher. 

RF: Comes in to back up any throw to first base.

CF: Comes in to back up any throw to second base.

LF: Comes in to back up any throw to second base.

Basic Bunt Coverage #2: Runner at 2nd

Situation: Runner at 2nd base or runners at both 1st and 2nd. Less than 2 outs.

C: The catcher must field any bunt in front of the plate. In essence, we’d like the catcher to be able to field any bunt he can get to within reason. The catcher is the only player with momentum already going into the throw as the ball is fielded.  If the catcher does not field the ball, he needs to call the base that the ball should be thrown to. Based on positioning, the catcher has a vision advantage compared to the rest of the defense.

1B: The first baseman is responsible for covering first base. The only bunt the first baseman should field is a foul pop-up or a bunt so hard down the line that a tag play on the batter is essential.

2B: The second baseman rotates to cover 2nd base. This player may cheat towards 2nd base in an obvious bunt scenario.

SS: The shortstop rotates to cover third base.

3B: The third baseman is responsible for fielding a bunt on the left side of the infield beyond the range of the catcher. The third baseman must charge hard as soon as the hitter shows bunt.

P: The pitcher is also responsible for fielding a bunt on the right side of the infield beyond the range of the catcher.

RF: Comes in to back up any throw to first base.

CF: Comes in to back up any throw to second base.

LF: Comes in to back up any throw to third base.

Basic Bunt Coverage #1: Runner at 1st

The next few posts will be related to bunt coverages. I will include a diagram, a description of the situation, and a position by position description of field responsibilities.  Some of these coverages will be very standard.  The intent is to post a good resource. So, here ya go:

Situation: Runner at 1st base less than 2 outs.

Description of responsibilities by position:

C: The catcher must field any bunt in front of the plate. In essence, we’d like the catcher to be able to field any bunt he can get to within reason. The catcher is the only player with momentum already going into the throw as the ball is fielded.  If the catcher does not field the ball, he needs to call the base that the ball should be thrown to. Based on positioning, the catcher has a vision advantage compared to the rest of the defense.

1B: The first baseman is responsible for fielding a bunt on the right side of the infield beyond the range of the catcher. The first baseman must charge hard as soon as the hitter shows bunt.

2B: The second baseman rotates to cover 1st base. This player may cheat towards first base in an obvious bunt scenario.

SS: The shortstop rotates to cover second base for a possible force play.

3B: The third baseman is responsible for fielding a bunt on the left side of the infield beyond the range of the catcher. The third baseman must charge hard as soon as the hitter shows bunt. If another player fields the bunt, the third baseman must retreat back to cover third base.

P: The pitcher is also responsible for fielding a bunt on the left side of the infield beyond the range of the catcher. If the third baseman fields the bunt, the pitcher must hustle to cover third base.

RF: Comes in to back up any throw to first base.

CF: Comes in to back up any throw to second base.

LF: Comes in to back up any throw to second base.

Infield Pop-up Responsibility

There is nothing worse than when two or even three players are standing in the same area and a pop fly drops between them.  It is so demoralizing for a team. It can change the momentum of a game.  Outs are precious.  The defense can’t give them away.  This unfortunate event is typically the result of  one or more of the following three things:

  1. Lack of communication
  2. Lack of knowledge of responsibility
  3. Lack of leadership on the field

  • A pop-up on the infield is the responsibility of all infielders until someone takes charge
  • You can never yell too loud
  • It’s OK to call “Ball” too early; never too late
  • On pop-ups bordering two zones, the player further away from home plate trumps
    • Outfielders trump 2B & SS
    • SS trumps 3B
    • 2B trumps 1B
    • 3B & 1B trump C
  • P should only have to field pop-ups on the front of the mound area
  • P should direct traffic by calling the name of the player in the best position to catch the ball 

 

Maximizing Practice for Infielders: 2 Fungo Drill with Cardio Conditioning

This drill has three purposes:

  1. Get as many ground balls as possible in a 15 minute span
  2. Incorporate a cardio conditioning aspect by running the balls to the bucket after successfully fielding it
  3. Be a low arm intensity drill (great for mid-season)

 Equipment and personnel needed:

  • 2 coaches with fungoes or regular bats
  • Line of players at each infield position
  • 4 buckets (1 with each coach (2), 2 placed on opposite sides of mound or circle)
  • minimum of 50 balls (25 on each side)

Drill Process:

  1. Coach #1, standing on the 3rd base side in foul territory, hits a ground ball to a player in the line of 2nd basemen.  That player fields the ball, runs to the bucket on the 1st base side of the mound, drops the ball in the bucket, and then sprints to the end of the line. Without hesitation, Coach #1 hits another ball to a player in the line of 1st basemen.
  2. Coach #2 does the same as Coach #1 except he hits to the lines at 3rd base and shortstop.  The only difference is that those players will drop the balls in the bucket on the 3rd base side of the mound.
  3. It is important for the coaches to call, “Last ball!!!” when he/she hits the last one in the bucket. That signals the player that fields it to switch buckets. The bucket nearest the mound should now be full. It needs to be carried to the coach. The empty bucket nearest the coach should be taken back to the area near the mound.  The whole process starts over again.

Hints:

  • I recommend keeping each line to three or four players at the most.  Any more than that and the players aren’t moving enough to get their heart rates up.
  • Be careful that you don’t hit the players that are carrying in buckets.
  • Mix up positioning of the coaches. On occasion place one coach at home plate hitting to the corners and the other coach just in front the rubber in order to hit to the middle infielders. This allows the middle infielders to work on double play flips after fielding ground balls (the receiver of the flip runs the ball to the bucket).  It will also allow the corner infielders to work in fielding bunts.
  • Make it a game. Each coach starts with the same amount of balls in his/her bucket.  A missed ball stays in the outfield.  After 15 minutes the side of the infield with the most balls left in their bucket wins.
  • Have players alternate lines in order to experince new positions.
  • Add 10 pushups for those that miss a ground ball.

If you enjoyed this post, you will also enjoy:

https://coach5150.wordpress.com/2009/11/22/team-hitting-drill-the-octopus/

https://coach5150.wordpress.com/2009/06/02/7-point-drill/

Team Hitting Drill: The Octopus

“Talent without discipline is like an octopus on roller skates. There’s plenty of movement, but you never know if it’s going to be forward, backwards, or sideways.”

-H. Jackson Brown Jr. 

The first time I saw this drill, or something similar to it, was in Dixon, IL. My friend Dan Crawford was using it as part of his team’s pre-game routine.  Whiffle balls were flying in every direction. Players were placed all over left field. Jokingly, I said, “Dan, it looks like a octupus exploded out there. What’s going on?” He told me it was a drill.  I liked it so much, that night I scribbled something similar to it on paper.

Equipment needed:

  • 1 bucket
  • 4 dozen whiffle balls
  • 4 bats

Purpose: The purpose of this drill is to get each of your players 24 purposeful swings with in less than 8 minutes. It makes a great pre-game hitting routine. I especially like it on the road.  It also makes a good practice drill when time or space is limited for hitting.  Lastly, it’s a good indoor drill when a cage is not available.

Set up & Grouping: Take your team and divide them into three or four equal groups. I recommend no more than 5 in a group.  4 in each group is just about perfect. Place the bucket of whiffle balls in the center and one group on each side of the bucket. Each group needs a hitter, pitcher, and shaggers.  The hitters are nearest the bucket.  The pitchers are throwing towards the hitters standing by the bucket.

After a hitter gets 6 cuts, he or she rotates to become the pitcher of  his group. The pitcher rotates to shagger. A shagger comes to the bucket and becomes a hitter.  Make one of the groups “the lead group”. When all of the hitters in the lead group have hit, that group yells “ROTATE” and all of the groups rotate clockwise.  It should take a little less than 2 minutes for a group of 4 to hit at each station. Each station has a purpose. See below:

  • Station #1: Pulling inside strikes
  • Station #2: hitting up the middle
  • Station #3: hitting outside strikes
  • Station #4: I like to use this one as a wildcard station in order to mix it up.  You can make it a bunting station, top hand drill, 2 strike hitting, etc. Most often, I like to use a paddle drill.

Hints:

  • The first time you run the drill, it will take a bit longer than 8 minutes due to explanation. It will get to be more fluid each time the drill is run.
  • For younger players, eliminate the rotation. As the coach, call out a new hitting purpose every 2-3 minutes.
  • Monitor your pitchers. Make sure that they are throwing the balls hard enough and trying to hit locations.
  • Monitor your hitters make sure that they are swinging at strikes. Much to often, when the whiffle balls come out, hitter start swinging at everything.
  • Emphasize no pop-ups.
  • Make sure your hitters are not getting to close to one another. Safety first 🙂