Friday April 7 2017
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Staying Sharp in the Off-Season

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Both baseball and softball players usually have to shake off a layer of rust before every upcoming season. As we head into the fall, here are some helpful tips to keep players sharp during the off-season.

Two ball drill
Head to the local high school gym, indoor facility—or whatever safe place you can find—and get some extra work in. But before you jump back into live pitching, work on what is called the “two ball drill.” In this drill, a teammate, friend or parent throws up two balls and calls out “top” or “bottom” when the balls are in mid-air. Hit whichever ball your partner calls out to work on hitting pitches at different levels of the strike zone.

Tee it up
Hitting off of a tee allows players to learn where they want to hit the ball to avoid hitting weak ground balls or lazy pop-ups. This drill is affective swinging with one hand to start, and then two. Swinging with the lead hand first instills in the player to hit the ball on the ground or a line drive.

Practice like you play
With a teammate or a friend, work on throwing ground balls back and forth to each other, making the other person move from side to side. In cold weather, use a gym. Even though the gym floor is not like the diamond, it still allows players to focus on the fundamentals of keeping their heads down, smooth footwork and making accurate throws to a target.

Pitchers aren’t made during the season, but rather the off-season
Arm strength isn’t everything when it comes to being a pitcher; it is the legs that do a lot of the work. Pitchers should do squats between three and four times a week in sets of 15. Use as much—or as little—weight as you are comfortable with.

Jogging is also a key to build stamina for the late innings. Hit the track or the streets three or four times a week for a mile run each time out. On days off from jogging, jump some rope. This is also an easy way to build stamina and can be done virtually anywhere.

Players that work on these simple drills will be ahead of the game when it comes time for that first winter workout.