Baseball coaches are always looking for ways to make their practices more efficient. Limited time and field space are just two of the challenges they face when putting together a practice plan that will cover all aspects of the game in the shortest time possible.
“Field availability is a real problem, at least in Southern California,” explained Dan Keller, a coach in Huntington Beach. “Thus, the challenge is running an effective practice without the use of a diamond, backstop, bases, dirt infield, etc.”
Keller, creator of the free online resource Dugoutcaptain.com, uses a fun drill to maximize efficiency for batting practice. Known as Four Corner Whiffle BP, this drill can be done almost anywhere, even if you don’t always have access to a traditional baseball diamond.
The drill utilizes four different stations simultaneously. A coach is positioned at each station, along with wiffle balls and volunteers to act as shaggers. These can be parents, other coaches or even siblings.
Besides efficiency, this drill offers other benefits, including safety, low ball flight, and the ability to throw curveballs. It’s also a great way to engage parents and other family members as part of a team activity. Since it offers a wide range of options for stations, it can be run on a regular basis.
Skill Set: Hitting
Difficulty Level: Medium
Number of Athletes and Coaches: Entire team, plus parents and other volunteers
Average Time to Complete: 15 Minutes
Equipment Required: Four cones or bases, about 100 wiffle balls
Goal: To increase efficiency of batting practice using multiple stations
Description: Four Corner Wiffle BP is designed to work on different aspects of hitting at the same time. Use as many coaches, parents and other volunteers as you can at four different stations; the more, the better.
Place a cone or base at each station, along with a coach, batter and volunteers to help shag the wiffle balls. You’ll need about 25 balls for each station, or 100 total.
Each station can focus on a specific skill. For example, one can be used for tee work, another for soft toss, front toss, live arm, bunting, etc.
Rotate each group at each station, so everyone will have ample opportunity to work on each skill. Parents, siblings and other volunteers can shag balls either after you run out, or simply keep them moving as you fire. Each player takes eight swings and rotates.
For live arm, Keller advises taking a knee, lowering the pitch height to a more realistic level. He offers coaches additional suggestions of stations for variety, including baserunning, defense with ground balls or fly balls, agility, footwork, etc.
“Hitting is fun, (so) more swings is better,” Keller said.
For safety purposes, spread the four corners out as much as space allows. On deck batters should be across home plate from a swinging batter rather than behind, to avoid being hit by a thrown bat. Shaggers may be back to back; the key is to avoid running into one another.
Keller gives special thanks to “Captain Robert” from the Dugout Captain community for suggesting this drill. Click here to see a video sketch.
From GameChanger and Stephen Kerr
Want more hitting drills? Look through our hitting drills library.