When the Hendersonville (Tenn.) High School softball team encountered a strong pitcher throwing faster than 65 miles per hour at an out-of-state tournament a few years ago, Coach Jeff Serbin wanted to find a way to help his batters prepare for such high-speed pitches.
While at a coaching clinic led by University of Tennessee coaches Ralph and Karen Weekly, Serbin found a new drill that fit the bill. It helps improve reaction time and forces batters to shorten their swing. College coaches use the 3-2-1 Hitting Drill, and now so do the Lady Commandos.
In fact, the Lady Commandos use this drill nearly every day during the early part of the season.
“I would recommend for every coach to try to attend a clinic somewhere in their area,” Serbin said. “Just getting the chance to see new ideas and collaborate with other coaches and see what they do (is valuable).”
The 3-2-1 Hitting Drill
1. Improve hand-eye coordination
2. Develop a short, quick swing
3. Improve reaction time on faster pitches
1. In a batting cage, set up a home plate at the regular distance of 43 feet
2. Set up a second home plate at 40 feet
3. Set up a third home plate at 39 feet
4. Prepare a pitching machine; set at 60 miles per hour
The batter starts at the first home plate and works her way toward the pitching machine. She gets three swings at first home plate, two swings at second home plate and one swing at third home plate.
“The ball comes in faster as you get closer to the pitching machine,” Serbin said. “At 39 feet, a 60 (mile-per-hour pitch) is coming pretty good.
“It takes time to get used to. Those who have quick hands usually do the best. Those that are in between, by the time the season gets going, they’ve caught up to (the last pitch). If I let them get five swings, they would probably hit two or three.”
Serbin has a game in which the Lady Commandos play around the drill. He splits the girls into teams, and each batter accumulates points for their performance. The batter gets one point for each hit at the first or second home plate, and she gets one point for making contact at the third home plate. If the batter makes a solid hit from the third home plate, she gets two points. Afterward, the winning team gets a reward such as avoiding running laps, pushups, etc.
“The girls like (the drill) because it’s something different and it’s challenging,” Serbin said. “When we make it a game, you get to see how competitive some of your players are. They get into it.”
Do you have any other hitting drills you utilize during the beginning of the season? If so, send them to TheSeason@GC.com.