This team was taking batting practice and building poor habits at the same time, doesn't make much sense but that's what was happening. So the question is how can we use a pitching machine to help our hitting and build good habits rather than poor habits?
Talk to Your Players
Don't assume that a player knows what he is doing when hitting off a pitching machine. To help players get the most out of their time in the cage, give them something specific to work on and vary what they do.
Each player gets 10 swings
- Bunt first 2
- Hit 2 the opposite way, they may need be backup a little if the machine is throwing the ball in.
- Hit 2 up the middle
- Last 4 hit the ball where it's pitched.
If you can, stand behind the plate and see where the ball is pitched and where they are hitting it. If they are pulling everything regardless of location, then chances are they aren't staying back.
Also don't let them take to many cuts in a single turn, fatigue will also cause bad habits as they will begin to lunge as they get tired.
Try to mix in some live pitching if you can. If there is an screen available have a coach throw some BP and vary the speed a little. See if the kids are adjusting or not to the various speeds and locations.
Finally, don't crank up the pitching machine too fast. If they can't time the pitch out of the machine very well, then the fast speeds will completely alter their swing. All of a sudden they will have to guess when the ball is coming because they know they don't have much time to start their swing.
In the end we want batting practice to be something to help prepare our players for the game. As a coach you can help this process by not focusing in on where the ball is going but rather what the player is doing as they hit the ball.
Until Next Time,