Baseball is a game of many unique skills which must be practiced; therefore baseball drills are a critical part of developing a baseball player. Dozens of different drills have been invented to develop very specific areas of baseball play, in fact, far too many for us to discuss in the space here. This article will be a general introduction to a number of drills only.
Baseball drills fall into several categories: batting drills, pitching drills, fielding drills, and baserunning drills. Fielding drills are divided into infield drills and outfield drills; drills for the catcher position are a category of their own. In each of these categories, there are drills that exist for players at different levels of development, where basic drills teach, for example, the fundamentals of the correct swing, and more advanced batting drills may teach timing, power, or pitch recognition.
Many batting drills exist to teach swing mechanics, in areas such as the stride and hip rotation. Such drills break down the swing into different parts, so that the young player can master the elements of the swing without being overwhelmed with trying to get every part of the swing right at once. Drills intended to develop power in the swing may involve swinging at an object much heavier than the baseball. A specialized drill used to help a hitter pick up the ball quickly involved colored balls. In this drill, the pitcher will pick up a colored ball without letting the batter see what color it is, and call out a color before throwing the ball. Only if the color of the ball matches the color yelled out may the batter swing.
A common form of batting drill for more experienced players is called simply “batting practice.” In its most basic form, batting practice, or “bp” for short, involves hitting simulated pitching. During live batting practice against a batting practice pitcher, the quality of pitches seen is generally not equal to that seen in-game; these drills are meant to develop a “feel” for the swing and refine mechanics. Batting practice may be taken before a game in order to “warm up,” and is used to help maintain swing mechanics through repetition.
Pitching drills can focus on developing pitches, maintaining a feel for pitches, or fielding aspects of the pitcher position. Professional starting pitchers often have throwing sessions between starts, used to develop and/or maintain the “feel” of their pitches. Throwing a pitch, especially a breaking pitch, correctly, is a very precise art which requires certain very specific motions of the hand and arm. These, plus the way the ball is gripped in the hand, contribute to a pitcher’s “feel” for his pitches, which, much like batting mechanics, require repetition to keep up. Broader aspects of a pitcher’s delivery aside from the precise grip in the hand and release of the ball also require maintenance. The pitching delivery is a complicated action involving the entire body; an error in any one part of the motion can throw the rest of the delivery off. At best, incorrect motions can result in control problems or loss of velocity, and at worst, it can create a risk of injury.
One particular aspect of hitting which requires specific drills is the bunt. Most bunts are intended to advance a baserunner one base while giving up an out, though fast runners may occasionally bunt for a base hit. The bunt is a gentle tap of the ball with the bat usually top USSSA bats, held out in front of home plate. The best bunts “deaden” the ball, with the effect of increasing the amount of time required to field the ball.