SOFTBALL PITCHING DRILLS
One of my personal favorite pitching drills to do inside is pitching with socks. I learned this from Bill Hillhouse. Find a mirror or any other reflective surface. A glass door will do too. Roll up a pair of socks and practice your pitching by pitching the socks right at the mirror.
In my house, I happen to have a full length mirror at the end of a hallway. The hallway floor is made of ceramic tile. Not only do the tiles serve as a method for measuring how far I am from the mirror, it also provides a built in power line!
If you don’t have a tiled floor, you can find other ways of laying down a power line to practice with. A piece of tape works well. If you’re lucky, you may even be allowed to put some tape on the mirror to create different pitching zone targets to pitch to!
Pitching socks into a mirror allows you to see what you look like when you pitch. It allows you to practice getting a nice strong and straight stride. It allows you to check body positioning during different parts of your delivery. It allows you to practice ramping up your arm to maximum velocity since the “load” (aka the “ball”/roll of socks) is lighter than a softball.
OR you can also slow things down and just practice the different parts of the pitching motion while actually being able to SEE what you’re doing in the mirror.
Often times, the biggest problem a pitcher has in making corrections is that they don’t know what they’re doing wrong. They can’t see themselves pitch so they don’t realize that their arm path is incorrect or that their stride is off or that their allowing their glove arm to pull them offline. Pitching socks into a mirror allows you to SEE things for yourself you may not be able to see otherwise. Focus on proper form and technique. It’s an easy way to get some quality pitching reps in even if you have no one to catch for you.
SOFTBALL HITTING DRILLS
Clear enough space so you can take a full swing. Use The Swing Bat softball hitting aid and take some nice full swings. This training aid gives you immediate feedback on your swing, and is a little smaller than a regular bat, so you need less space to practice. Plus, it’s such a fun hitting tool that you just want to keep swinging and swinging and swinging. You can get a lot of good reps with feedback in a short period of time and in a small amount of space.
If you don’t have fancy training aids, you can simply take 25 hard, full cuts with your bat. Do this 3x a day with rest in between. This helps increase bat speed and, again, you don’t need anyone to help you do this hitting drill.
Or if you prefer to work hitting technique, do what Crystl Bustos suggests, go through your swing with your bat in super slow motion. Pay attention to your body positioning throughout your entire swing. If you get out of position, stop and start over. I like doing this hitting drill up against a wall.
Stand a bat’s distance away from the wall with your toes and belly button pointed toward the wall. Go through your swing, from start to finish, in super slow motion. Your bat should not hit the wall. Your bat head should stay very close to the wall all the way through full extension!
Don’t have a bat? Get a bath towel. Bunch up one end to hold in your right hand and the other end to hold in your left hand. Get into your batting stance. The towel will be draped over your back shoulder probably. Take 25 hard swings with the towel as your “bat.”
Pretend someone is hitting grounders to you. Or visualize a batter in a game hitting the ball to you. Practice your fielding/catching footwork and throwing motion with no ball. Remember to step to the ball with your glove hand whenever possible to shorten the transition into your throw. Go through your full motion including your follow through as if you’re really throwing the ball.
Drilling the technical aspects of these movements over and over and over again while you’re stuck indoors can really help improve your performance when you finally get back out to the field. Practicing perfect movements without worrying about the outcome of where a pitch ends up or where the ball goes when you hit it or whether or not you actually stop a ground ball allows you to really groove good mechanics and technique. The more you practice, the more “second nature” these movements become. The less you have to think about how to hit, throw, field, or pitch in the game the better. This leaves your mind clear for higher level strategy and execution. Get great at these small things indoors and enjoy big payoffs outdoors on game day!
Stacie Mahoe has been involved in the game of softball since the age of 9. She enjoys connecting with other coaches and parents who value developing great people, not just great athletes. Read more from Stacie on her blog, at StacieMahoe.com, where she shares unique insights from her years as a player, coach, and parent.