Thursday, April 29, 2010

Keep Pitching Simple

Throw fastballs low and away. Throw first pitch strikes to get ahead in the count. Take a little off the speed of the throws to have more control of your pitches.

Use the four-seam or two-seam grip with the same arm angle and velocity. The two-seamer will sink and have more movement. Add an occasional change-up to keep the hitter guessing. Spend extra time in practice working on a change-up, since it can help to neutralize good hitters in games.

Young players often try to throw as hard as they can - trying to blow the ball past the hitter. It's fun to strike out hitters with the heat, but often it is better to back off a little on the velocity and throw strikes. The pitcher should aim to keep the hitter off-balance and mess up their timing. They can do this with pitch location, movement and changing speed.

Slow it down

An experienced umpire shared this tip: 
It's better for a young pitcher to throw 5 miles an hour slower and locate the pitch in the strike zone than to throw high octane balls out of the zone. Mainly throw fastballs low and away. Have a good player at second base to field the weak ground balls.

Example:
I was recently coaching a game where a soft throwing 11-year-old lefty kept the pitches low in the strike zone and induced good 12yo hitters into easy ground ball outs. He did this with pitch location, ball movement and changing speed. The hitters where way out in front - hitting the ball weakly off the end of the bat.

First Pitch Strike

In 1995, Greg Maddox gave up only 43 hits out of the 600 times he threw a first-pitch strike to the hitter. You will have success if you throw first pitch strikes down and away. Keep pitching simple.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Long and Short Distance Pitching


Short Distance Pitching
Try pitching from a shorter distance when working on new pitches - like a change up. 

Players who are learning to switch pitch can work from a short distance using their non-dominant arm. Make sure to use the 4-seam grip and focus on throwing fastballs. Good pitching mechanics are essential so make sure to take lessons from an experienced pitching coach.

Pro players successfully use short distance throwing:

Roger Clemens' repertoire between starts includes a day of 35-40 pitches at 75-80% velocity.  The day after this workout, he throws a "short session" - throwing from 55 feet instead of 60' 6".  This helps Clemens to keep the ball down, and he feels this work transfers to his regular mound throwing. (baseballfit.com)



Long Distance Pitching

Just like playing long toss can strengthen the arm and improve accuracy, practicing "long pitching" can help pitchers to develop a stronger arm and more accurate throws. Try adding 10% extra to the normal pitching distance. Gradually increase the distance during the season.

Examples:
A little league player who is used to throwing from 46 feet can practice from 50 to 54 feet. Practice pitching from the rubber and have the catcher move back a few feet behind the plate. If you don't have a catcher, then practice throwing at a small target.

A Bronco division player in the PONY league who normally throws from 48 feet can practice pitching from 54'

A PONY division pitcher who throws from 54 feet in games can work from the full 60'6" in practice.

Focus primarily on ball location and movement.  The velocity will increase over time.

Players on my team who practice "long pitching" say that it feels easy now to throw strikes from their normal pitching distance.


Have fun practicing

In the old days, kids would throw at a wall or steps and field the ground ball as it came back. This way they could work on both throwing and fielding skills.

My son likes to throw at a target, so he sets up a row of three plastic water bottles on the backstop and sees how many throws it takes to knock them all down. Try setting up a baseball or softball on a batting tee and see if you can knock it off in five throws. Make a game of it and challenge another player.

Remember, pitching a baseball is fun. Challenging yourself to find out just how good you can be is what makes it fun. In the end, that's what life is all about – finding out just how good you can be at whatever it is you love to do. - Steven Ellis, former Chicago Cubs pitching pro

Baseball Pitching Drills

Pitchers Long Toss

thecompletepitcher.com

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Practice Long Toss

Learning Long Toss with Mike Scott
Short instructional video discussing the proper way to throw long toss during warm ups.

Long Toss Training - Steve Ellis

The way to develop big league arm strength is simple: throw. Covers high school long toss program - 12 minutes of throwing long toss - twice a week in the off-season. Steve Ellis strongly encourages all players to take at least two full months off every year to allow the arm, body, and mind to fully rest and recuperate.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Switch Hitter

In baseball, a switch-hitter bats right-handed against left-handed pitchers and left-handed against right-handed pitchers. Most switch-hitters are right-handed throwers. This is the case since the vast majority of players are right-handed. 

Switch hitters are rare in baseball. In youth leagues, there might be two or three players out of 100 who regularly switch hit. At the college level, there are only one or two switch hitters on each team (3 to 6%). Only one of 33 players on the UW baseball team is a switch hitter. Two players on the top ranked Arizona State baseball team are switch hitters. Two players, out of forty, on the 2010 Seattle Mariners roster are switch hitters.

Switch Hitter Changing Boxes
A batter may switch to the other box after every pitch if he so desires until the pitcher is set. He may switch from one box to the other on any ball strike count. One of the oldest myths in baseball is the one that says you can't switch boxes when you have two strikes on you.

The only restriction on the batter is that he may not step into the other box after the pitcher is in position ready to pitch. See Rule 6.02 and 6.06(b) in the Official Baseball Rules

Rule 6.02 
(a) The batter shall take his position in the batter’s box promptly when it is his time at bat. 
(b) The batter shall not leave his position in the batter’s box after the pitcher comes to Set Position, or starts his windup. 

PENALTY: If the pitcher pitches, the umpire shall call “Ball” or “Strike,” as the case may be. 


Rule 6.06 
A batter is out for illegal action when—
(a) He hits a ball with one or both feet on the ground entirely outside the batter’s box.

(b) He steps from one batter’s box to the other while the pitcher is in position ready to pitch; 


The exception to above sitituation is when a switch hitter faces a switch pitcher. Then the Venditte Rule comes into play.

Busting Baseball Myths

Your Little League coach probably didn't know it, but every time he sent you to the plate with the instructions "keep your eye on the ball," he was giving you an impossible task.
And if you followed the coach's advice of positioning yourself directly under a popup, you probably struggled to catch balls in the outfield, too.

Myth: A left-hander shouldn't play catcher
I have seen a few left-handed all-star catchers in youth baseball. They had no trouble throwing out runners trying to steal second base. In fact, their throws were often better than right-handed catchers. They had  no problem catching a runner trying to steal third base. Catching the low outside pitch was easier for the lefty, who is catching with their right hand. A righty has to catch the outside pitch backhanded, which a number of kids drop or miss. 

You may not see a lefty catcher in the big leagues or college, but there shouldn't be an issue having a left-handed kid play catcher in youth baseball.

Lefties often have a easier time fielding bunts and making the throw to first base - this is especially true in softball were there are lots of bunts. The starting catcher for University of Washington national championship softball team in 2009,  Alicia Blake, is left handed. 

Dave Weaver, from the New England Catchers Camp, discusses issues of left-handed catchers in baseball. 

Switch Pitchers in Japan

By Patrick Newman
NPB Tracker  18 January 2009

It’s not often you see a switch-pitcher come along, but we have two such ambidextrous prospects to watch in Nippon Pro Baseball (NPB). Both pitchers were  selected in the 2008 draft and will make their debuts this season. Natural lefty Kazuki Miyata was selected in the 4th round by the Seibu Lions. Miyata started throwing right handed in high school as an exercise in balance, and kept it up in junior college as it helped him alleviate back pain. He hasn’t thrown right handed in an official game, but is still working on his right handed pitching and has learned to throw a curve.
Yakult instructional draftee Rafael Fernandez is also a natural lefty, but throws right handed all the time. Sponichi explains that when Fernandez started playing baseball in Brazil when he was 10, he thought that the ball must be thrown with the right hand. Fernandez threw lefty in Yakult’s autumn camp when he was having some arm pain, and hit about 75 mph on the gun. 
There’s been one switch-pitcher in recent NPB memory, Toyotoshi Chikada, who made one appearance as a lefty for the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks back in 1988. He retired in 1991, but in 2001 he threw both righty and lefty to a couple of Hawks farm players in an exhibition game.
source: npbtracker.com 
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License .

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Nick Bohannan - Future Cardinal?

Nick "Bo" Bohannan

Hometown: O'Fallon, Missouri
Team: New Melle SABERS 14U
Positions: RHP / LHP (65 MPH with both arms)

Glove: Mizuno custom made six-finger glove
Dominant hand: right

Nick Bohannan is a hard throwing ambidextrous pitcher from Missouri. The online video shows that he has good mechanics and control from both sides. Nick has a unique glove that was custom-made by Rawlings and signed by players from the local St. Louis Cardinals. Visit Nick's website

"I'm more controlled with my right hand, but I throw harder with my left hand," says Nick, who adds, he usually stays with one hand for an entire inning or even a whole game. "They are both fun."


Why he started pitching with both arms

Nick was about two years old when he started throwing wiffle balls playing catch with his dad.
Over time he learned to throw the balls back with both hands for fun.

His dad said that his son liked to catch the ball with his dominant right hand, so he bought Nick a glove for a lefty.

As Nick kept catching with the lefty glove, he eventually learned to throw the ball back with his left hand.

At nine, he had more controll with his right hand, but threw harder left-handed.

His goal is to play college baseball and pitch with both hands.


Articles and Videos

13-year-old Ambidextrous Pitcher (FOX2, 2011 video)

Nick Bohannan Ball Player

9-Year-Old Gives Team Two Pitchers For The Price Of One (ksdk.com)

Nick "Bo" Bohannan Switch Pitcher  - age 11 (2009)


This article was posted back in 2010 - good for Throwback Thursday!

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Brandon Berdoll - Lefty Shortstop Learns to Throw Right

Brandon Berdoll

Born:  Oct 14,1982
Hometown: Cedar Creek, Texas
Height:  6-3  Weight:  195
Positions: LHP / RHP / SS
Bats: Left

High School: Westlake High School in Austin, Texas (Chaps)
College:  Temple College (Leopards); Texas A&M University
MLB Draft:  Selected by Atlanta Braves in 27th Round (817th overall) of 2003 amateur entry draft

Glove: used a custom made six-finger glove with two thumbs ($325)

Dominant hand: Left

Brandon Berdoll - a natural lefty - learned how to throw with both arms, at age 10, after his coach would not allow him to play shortstop.

At Temple Junior College, he threw 89 miles per hour with his left arm, and 85 miles per hour with his right arm. He threw a sharp curveball with both. The Atlanta Braves picked Berdoll, a 6-3, 195-pounder from Austin Westlake, as a left-handed pitcher, though he has pitched with both arms and was a part-time designated hitter for the Leopards (tdtnews.com).

Custom six-fingered glove

"Berdoll's $325 custom-made, faded blue baseball glove has a thumb on both sides, allowing him to switch hands with equal comfort."


Why he started pitching with both arms

Berdoll was a slick-fielding shortstop when he was 8-years-old. Always one of the best athletes on his youth teams, he joined a summer "select" squad when he turned 10.

On the first day of practice, he settled into his regular position for fielding workouts. When the coach saw Berdoll throw the ball to first base with his left hand, he abruptly stopped practice.

"You can't play shortstop left-handed," the coach said.

"Yes I can!" Berdoll said.

"No you can't!"

"Yes I can!"

On the drive home, Brandon - still upset about the position switch - told his father that he wanted to prove the coaches wrong.

For six months, Brandon practiced throwing tennis balls against the garage door, usually after midnight.
Annoyed but supportive, Hal and Lisa Berdoll listened to the constant thumps their son created in the driveway.

Persistence paid off. Within two years, Brandon played shortstop again.

Right-handed.

Once he gets the idea for doing something, he doesn't quit," Lisa said.

(source: Rome News-Tribune, June 28, 2003)



Life after Baseball

Students tap Brandon Berdoll as top summer 2007 construction student

Brandon Berdoll was elected the Associated General Contractors Gene Murphree Construction Science Outstanding Undergraduate in the August 2007 graduation class. College of Architecture at Texas A&M University


Berdoll Pecan Candy and Gift Company - Cedar Creek, TX

My twin brother Brandon has found his love, building. He has started making custom furniture and milling logs particularly out of pecan wood, while his wife Brandi manages the retail store ..



Articles

2 Pitchers in 1 By Rick Cantu, Cox News Service

Pitcher Brandon Berdoll, a 27th-round draft pick by the Braves, can throw the ball with either arm.

Switch pitcher well on his way to MLB annals By RICK BRAGG
Austin American-Statesman

The Seattle Times


Switch-pitcher's hope: Major-league job
June 29, 2003|By Rick Cantu, Austin American Statesman.


Houston Chronicle, June 29, 2003


Brandon Berdoll Stats - The Baseball Cube


Monday, April 5, 2010

A Brief History of Switch Pitchers

Tony "The Count" Mullane -
 Baltimore Orioles/Chicago White Stockings (1882)
Mullane was baseball's first ambidextrous pitcher and a talented ballplayer who played every position in the field except catcher.  Mullane who turned pro in 1880, would go on to win 285 career games. The Count won 30 games in five consecutive seasons. According to reports, it was on July 18, 1882, that Mullane first pitched with both arms in a game - bare handed! 
More about Tony Mullane
Larry Corcoran - 
Chicago White Stockings (1884)
Corcoran pitched using both arms in a game between Chicago and Buffalo. He alternated arms pitching, for four innings, before switching positions to shortstop.
More about Larry Corcoran
Elton "Icebox" Chamberlain -
 Louisville Colonels (1888)
Chamberlain threw with both arms during an American Association game between Louisville and Kansas City on May 9, 1888. He pitched only two innings in the game. 
More about Icebox Chamberlain
Paul Richards -
 Muskogee Chiefs (1925)
Richards pitched with both hands on July 23, 1925, for the Muskogee Chiefs. Called to the mound from his shortstop position, he pitched both right-handed and left-handed. At one point, he faced a switch-hitter, which briefly resulted in both pitcher and batter switching hands and batter's boxes, respectively. Richards broke the stalemate by alternating hands with each pitch, regardless of where the batter positioned himself. 
More about Paul Richards
Greg Harris -
 Montreal Expos (1995)
At the age of 39, Montreal Expos pitcher Greg Harris entered a September 28, 1995, game against the Cincinnati Reds in the ninth inning and pitched with both arms. He prevented the Reds from scoring, but the Expos ultimately lost the game. 
More about Greg Harris
Matt Brunnig - 
Harvard University (2003)
In 2003, Harvard manager Joe Walsh said, "Someday he's going to be our No. 1 starter and our No. 3 starter as well." A natural right-hander, Brunnig honed his lefty skills at age 6 with help from his father, John, who's a chiropractor. John Brunnig said he worked on his son's switch-pitching for two reasons: to keep Matt's body in as perfect balance as possible; and because he would be coveted by major-league teams. Brunnig was nicknamed "The Freak" by Harvard teammates because he could throw 85 mph left-handed and 90 mph right-handed. 
More about Matt Brunnig


Pat Venditte - 
Creighton University (2008), NY Yankees (2008-)
In 2006, Pat Venditte pitched as a reliever using both arms for the Creighton Bluejays. Following his college career, Venditte was drafted by the Yankees in the 2008 Major League Baseball Draft.
On March 30, 2010, minor leaguer Venditte showed off his ambidextrous talents for the New York Yankees, giving up one run in 1-1/3 innings during a 9-6 split-squad loss to the Atlanta Braves. 
More about Pat Venditte



Drew Vettleson -
 Central Kitsap HS (2010), Tampa Bay Rays (2010-)
Central Kitsap High School senior Drew Vettleson, who has committed to Oregon State University, was selected No. 42 overall by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2010 Major League Draft. Possessing both elite hitting skills as well as the ability to switch pitch, Drew Vettleson is the rare draft prospect that garners national attention for both flash and substance. 
More about Drew Vettleson


Ryan Perez -
 Westminster Christian HS (2012), Judson University (2013-15), Cleveland Indians (2015-)
Ryan Perez was the first ambidextrous pitcher who could throw 90 mph with either arm. Perez was also a solid switch hitter in high school when he helped his team win a state championship. Perez was 3-years-old when his dad encouraged him to toss rocks into a pond with both arms. In 2015, Perez was drafted by the Cleveland Indians after 3 years as a switch pitcher for Judson University in Illinois. 
More about Ryan Perez


Aubrey McCarty -
  Coquitt County HS, Moultrie, GA (Class of 2013)
McCarty started pitching both ways when he was 11-years-old. He is naturally left-handed, but learned to play baseball right-handed. Aubrey McCarty was a standout ambidextrous pitcher and switch hitter in high school when he signed a letter of intent with Vanderbilt as a two-way player. In 2013, McCarty was drafted by the SF Giants, but he opted for a college education and is now playing for the Commodores.


Henry Knight -
 Franklin HS, Seattle (Class of 2015)
A natural righty, Henry Knight started throwing left-handed when he turned 9-years-old – proving that anyone who puts in the practice can learn to throw with both hands.  At age 14, he became a starter on varsity – as a switch pitcher and infielder – during his freshman year at Franklin High School. 

In 2013, Knight threw 9 scoreless innings as a switch pitcher, while pitching 11-innings in a game for the Columbia City Reds. He threw 94 strikes, including 87% first pitch strikes, while averaging 11 pitches per inning.

Knight throws 75% strikes from both sides, using a fastball, two-seamer, curveball, cutter, circle changeup and splitter. Knight is also a .500 switch hitter – swinging a wood bat since Little League
More about Henry Knight



Sources: The Seattle Times, BaseballLibrary.com and Wikipedia



A History of Switch Pitching by Cheryl Wright, SoSH 13 May 2015
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Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Lefty Advantage in Baseball

How Baseball Is Rigged For Lefties livescience.com 07 July 2008

In the general public, about 10 percent of people are left-handed. In Major League Baseball, about 25 percent of players are lefties. Any serious fan knows some of the reasons why certain positions favor lefties, but David Peters has come up with a laundry list of reasons to explain this anomaly.


Why Are Some People Ambidextrous? lifeslittlemysteries.com 02 April 2010

It is generally understood that there are four variations of handedness. There are people who are right-handed, left-handed, mixed-handed (when people prefer using their left hand for some tasks and their right for others), and people who are truly ambidextrous.

According to a study that was published in the January issue of Pediatrics, approximately one –in-100 people are ambidextrous, meaning they can use either hand for various (but not necessarily all) tasks with ease.


Lefty hitters can produce extra runs in youth baseball

In youth baseball, the left-handed hitters often have a better chance of hitting and getting on base than their fellow righties. After a few games into the season, our two left-handed hitters had half of the hits for the entire team (9-10yo). Balls hit by lefties to right field were being fielded by the inexperienced outfielders who delayed in throwing the ball in, so a single would turn into a double or triple. The team was producing three more runs per game than the competition.

Billy Wagner switched from throwing right-handed to left-handed

William Edward Wagner 
"Billy the Kid"

Born: July 25, 1971, Tannersville, Virginia
Tazewell High School, Baseball Player of the Year in 1990
Ferrum College, Ferrum, Virginia

Position: LHP, relief pitcher
Batted: Left
Threw: Left  (ambidextrous; natural right-hander)

Height/Weight: 5' 10"  180 lbs
135 lbs as a senior in high school

MLB Draft:
Wagner was selected in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft in June 1993 by the Houston Astros, and he played exclusively as a starting pitcher in minor league baseball.

Teams: Houston Astros, Philadelphia Pillies, NY Mets, Boston Red Sox, Atlanta Braves


Pitcher Billy Wagner goes from right to left sportsradiointerviews.com (March 12, 2010)

Billy Wagner’s Journey from 5′3″, 135 pound, Right-handed, High School Football Player to Left-handed, 16-year Major League Closer

On throwing left-handed:

“When I was younger, probably 6, 7, 8 years-old I lived with my grandparents and afternoons I would come home and play hat football. We couldn’t afford a football so we played with a hat. And a guy from across the street named Chip – I still can’t remember his last name after all these years – comes in. He was about 2-3 years older than me and we were playing around and he fell on my right arm and broke my right arm. So I was in my cast and as a kid you want to play, so I played left-handed. And then I get my cast off my right arm. He comes over and breaks it again. He falls on me and breaks it playing football. Having a cast on your right arm for that long, you figure things out a little bit if you want to play and compete with the older kids. So I ended up being left-handed. But that’s the only thing I can do. I can’t do anything else left-handed.” - Billy Wagner

Now that's a good reason for switch pitching - injure one arm, just use the other one to throw to with. The strategy worked out for Billy Wagner.

During his career, Wagner has established himself as one of the best closers in baseball, and he is perhaps best known for his ability to throw a 100 mph fastball despite having a relatively slight frame for a pitcher (Height: 5' 10", Weight: 180 lb.). Nickname is Billy the Kid.





Billy Wagner Statistics

Billy Wagner - Wikipedia

...

Pat Venditte in the News

Articles

News articles about ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte who plays for the NY Yankees in the minor league

2010

The Secret of Venditte By Jed Weisberger, April 1, 2010

Switch-pitcher Pat Venditte delivers thrill for New York Yankees nydailynews.com, March 31, 2010

Although many view Venditte's talent as a gimmick, the 20th-round pick in the 2008 draft from Creighton University knows that his ability to throw from both sides is the only reason he's still pitching professionally.
"I don't have overpowering stuff from either side, so I think I need this to continue pitching," Venditte said. "I understand where it's coming from, and it's my job to go out and prove that I can pitch. People are going to have their doubts, so it's my job to prove that I can do it."


Pat Venditte throws with both arms in appearance for Yankees Yahoo! Sports, March 30, 2010

Ambidextrous pitcher throws with both arms for Yankees SI.com March 30, 2010


2009

One year later: Venditte going strong By Benjamin Hill / Special to MLB.com June 19, 2009

Two Pitchers in One by John Strubel  May 9, 2009

2008

Pat Venditte ready to let 'em have it with both barrels  nydailynews.comJune 24, 2008 
Pat Venditte's new teammates got a bit of a laugh when they walked past his locker and saw the Omaha native with a reporter on either side. "He's a celebrity," one fellow Staten Island Yankee chuckled. "He pitches with both arms."

2007

Ambidextrous Venditte turning heads By Conor Nicholl / MLB.com | May 18, 2007
Creighton University reliever a complete bullpen in himself 
NORMAL, Ill. -- At first, Pat Venditte resembled hundreds of other collegiate pitchers. The Creighton University reliever entered Saturday's contest against Illinois State and started throwing left-handed. Every pitch was tossed sidearm and crossed the plate at 78-81 mph.
After a few throws, however, Venditte made a remarkable transformation.
He moved his glove to his left hand and started throwing right-handed. This time, every pitch was thrown over the top and hit the catcher's mitt at 88-91 mph. He repeated the process to three hitters, hitting a batter right-handed, coaxing a double play left-handed and striking out another with a right-handed curveball.
"[Venditte] has the advantage with every batter," Creighton head coach Ed Servais said. "You don't have to go righty-lefty. He is a righty-lefty in himself. He is a bullpen in himself."

Throwing Batters Curves Before Throwing a Pitch The New York Times April 6, 2007


2006

Middle reliever Venditte equally effective with both left and right arms

Bio and Stats

Pat Venditte From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



Videos

E:60 Pat Venditte

YouTube: Pat Venditte earning his 23rd save (SI Yankees record)

YouTube: CSTV Segment on Pat Venditte

Pat Venditte Fan Club - Videos

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Training aids for pitchers and hitters

A list of inexpensive training aids for practicing baseball. Kid tested, and coach approved.


Remember to keep baseball practice safe, fun and simple.


THROWING


Taped Baseball - for learning the four-seam grip
Throwing a taped ball to check for four-seam grip. Throwing with a four-seam grip will result in straighter throws that will hit your target. It's easy for a coach to see from a distance if the taped ball was thrown with a four-seam grip.

Wrap a new baseball, around the four seams, with black electrical tape. Use this ball to teach players the four-seam grip with the proper throwing motion. When thrown well, you will see a black line as the ball spins. If the grip is off, or the arm twists, then the ball will appear to wobble. A tight fast rotation will result in higher velocity (faster) throws. Try throwing the ball with a two-seam grip to get familiar with the ball rotation and movement.

Player holds the ball with the 4-seam grip, so the black tape runs parallel and between the index and middle fingers. The thumb is across the tape on the opposite side of the ball.

Old Bucket - target for pitching
Use an old bucket or crate laid on the side as a target for pitching. Start out with a large bucket and work to using a small one as the accurracy develops. Make a game of it. Points can be awarded for hitting the inside or edge of the target. Home plate is 17" wide, so a target that is 1.5 to 2 feet across works well for young players. 

Set a portable home plate in front of the target. One challenging drill is to bounce the ball off of the plate and into the bucket.

Alternate throwing with each arm. See how many strikes you can throw right- and left-handed.

Water bottles - target practice for throwing
Not everyone wants to be a pitcher, but kids need to learn to throw to a target in order get better at throwing a baseball. Fill three small plastic bottles with water, then line the bottles up on a fence or wall that is about chest high. The goal is to throw the ball to a specific location - in this case to knock down each water bottle. It's a fun activity for young players. 

See how many bottles you can knock down in five throws. See if you can knock down the bottles, one at a time, from left to right.  Different size bottles can be used. Award more points for the smaller object.

Batting tee - moveable target in the strike zone 
The batting tee can be used as a target for pitchers. Set a softball on the tee and see if you can knock it off while pitching. Set the tee on the outside edge of the strike zone and see if you can hit the tee with a pitch. Move the tee to different locations in the strike zone and use different size balls to knock off. Have fun.

Towel Drill - dynamic warm-up for pitching
A hand towel is used in place of a baseball to practice the pitching delivery. Helps the player with momentum and follow through to finish the pitching motion. This drill can be done indoors and is used as a dynamic warm-up before throwing a baseball. Towel Drill video

Mirror
Practice your pitching motion in front of a long mirror. Check your arm position, glove and leg lift. Compare pitching motions of nondominant to dominant side.


FIELDING

Bare hands - using two hands to catch
Use bare hands to catch a ball with soft hands. Throw the ball underhanded to a player who moves to the ball with hands out in front, elbows bent, to make the two-hand catch. The receiver brings the ball in toward them to slow the ball down using soft hands. If the hands are stiff and don't move, then the ball will pop out.

Try using your bare hands for slow moving ground balls. Players have to get low and center on the ball to make the play.

Batting gloves - using two hands for fielding
On cold or wet days, players can use batting gloves for fielding with two hands. Similar to using your bare hands (above).

Small Glove for fielding
Use a small old glove for practicing fielding ground balls and making quick transfers. Try using a glove that is one inch smaller than your normal glove. If you use an 11.5" glove, then try fielding with a 10.5" glove. Make a game of it. See how many ground balls you can stop out of 10 hits. Remember to center on the ball, get low to the ground, get both hands down in front and use soft hands. Aim to field the ball in the palm so you can get a quick transfer and throw with a four-seam grip.

Pancake Glove - using two hands
Use a pancake glove to teach kids fielding ground balls and catching with two hands. The pancake flat glove has no webbing, so in order to catch the ball, the player has to use two hands. For ground balls, the player needs to center on the ball, bend the knees to get low and use two hands to scoop up the ball.

Ball deflection drill - use the pancake glove to deflect a thrown ball into your throwing hand. This will help you to develop a quick ball transfer for making throws to a base. You can use the palm of an open baseball glove to do the deflection drill.

Personal Pancake Glove
Use your own glove - like a pancake glove - by catching a ball on the backside of the closed glove. This way everyone on the team can practice at the same time without special equipment. Start out using a tennis ball or wiffle ball and throw slowly. Make sure all the fingers are inside the glove or this drill will hurt. As players get good at making the catch, they can receive harder throws. Throwing the ball to either side of the player will force them to move to the ball to make the catch.

Now practice catching with the glove open - using two hands on every catch.

Oven Mitt for fielding hot grounders
By using a oven mitt instead of a baseball glove, you can create a drill where players must use good  fundmentals to field grounders. The player learns to move toward the ball, get the butt down, hands out, field and funnel off the left eye.


HITTING

Broom stick and wiffle balls for batting practice
Use a short old broom stick to hit golf size wiffle balls. Kids can hit the little balls off a tee or have a friend throw the balls from 15 feet away. Try hitting from both sides - right- and left-handed.

Wood bat and small balls 
A short wood bat can be used to hit small wiffle balls. The heavy wood bat keeps kids from casting the bat and the small ball requires focus to hit. Try swinging the bat right- and left-handed.

Wiffle balls and bat
Put the fun back into the game by playing whiffle ball with friends. Playing wiffle ball is nice way to start practice and kids will begin arriving earlier. 

Batting tee
Use the tee for regular batting practice. Helps players work on their swing. Try hitting small wiffle balls off the tee - it's not easy. 

BOOKS

Pitch Like a Pro: A guide for Young Pitchers and their Coaches, Little League through High School
by Jim Rosenthal and Leo Mazzone

The Art & Science of Pitching by Tom House, Gary Heil, and Steve Johnson

The Mental ABC's of Pitching: A Handbook for Performance Enhancement by H.A. Dorfman