Indoor Baseball Drills
Practicing baseball indoors is a lot like riding a moped. It seems like a good idea, but once you get going it feels out-of-control, dangerous and down-right scary! In addition to safety concerns, Indoor baseball practice can also be expensive. Nets, cages, screens and rental space add up quick. We wanted to put together some drills to help you get the most of your indoor practice sessions in a safe and cost-effective way. Here are some great indoor baseball and softball drills to try out at your next practice.
Most facilities will not rent space to teams practicing with actual baseballs. Promising to practice with gymnasium-safe baseballs, you sign the paperwork and you’re good to go.
Practicing indoors has its advantages. Coaches that teach throwing indoors benefit from what we call common-sizing. There’s no home-run derby or fast-pitch competitions here. Everyone is on a level playing field focusing first on mechanics.
Start Without a Ball:
Yup. Start practice without a ball. This is an excellent way to common-size player ability. Nobody is looking at who throws the hardest, fastest or most accurate. The technique is ready-break-throw, shown below as down-and-around-freeze. When teaching hitting, start without a ball and focus on a balanced position, meaning, batters are able to get into an athletic position and if you tap or nudge the player, they maintain balance. Once the technique is looking good, add a gymnasium-safe baseball or softball.
Throwing Mechanics Drill:
A great way to common-size your practice is to drop everyone down a peg. Literally. Have your players start the drill from their knees. This pinpoints attention to the muscles and techniques of the upper-body during the throwing motion. Players don’t have to be far apart to make this effective. Using soft baseballs helps build confidence for the younger players that might not be comfortable fielding a ball bouncing off the hard gym floor. Think of it as training wheels for the main event. Getting hit by a Soft Hit baseball is the safest way to learn the hard way when it comes to fielding a one-hopper.
This is a great drill to slow down the motion of throwing and again, focus on throwing mechanics. Here is a great video showing the technique for helping players lift their back elbow and avoid short-arming the ball, almost like a shot-put.
Players love hitting drills. Something about hearing the crack of the bat on a ball is just plain satisfying. In a perfect world, little-league coaches would be equipped with batting cages, nets and screens to make indoor hitting possible. Unfortunately, this is not the reality for most little league coaches and players. As a result, when you’re practicing indoors, there really shouldn’t be too many bats cracking.
An oldie but a goodie. Soft toss is a classic hand-eye-coordination drill designed for players of all ages. Players concentrate on hitting the ball into a matt or against a wooden board (the only equipment you really need). Here is a great example of soft-toss. Replace the hardball with an indoor safe ball and you’ve got yourself a great indoor drill.
Safety-Tip: Be sure to let your players know the drill involves swinging the bat and to stay away unless they are at the plate. Keep an eye out for wandering kids as well.
Sure, it’s practice time and you want to get throwing, catching, hitting and fielding, but a video is a great way to show young players the mechanics of hitting. Call it a “chalk-talk” and bring your laptop. As with any practice, stations provide a great way to rotate players through drills while receiving maximum practice time exposure. Grab a parent volunteer and highlight a couple videos you’d love your students to watch on hitting techniques. Bring them in the hallway of the facility so it’s easier to hear and have them sit to watch and talk about what they’re seeing.
- What do you notice about the player’s legs?
- What do you notice about the follow-through?
- What do you notice about the front-elbow?
If there’s time remaining, have the players stand up and practice without a bat.
Here is a great video of some indoor fielding drills. Working on hand-eye coordination and glove-placement, you’ll notice the coaches have players remove their gloves and just get a feel for the ball. Slowly, they add the glove and the number of steps. Field, tag, throw. Notice you can hear some hitting stations in the background and there is a lot of movement. This is what you want to see. Even with limited space, the practice in this video seems to have a high percentage of engagement with the players.
These are some quick indoor baseball drills to take with you to your next practice inside a small gymnasium. Get creative with the space and be sure to keep safety top-of-mind.