I believe too many times, especially at the lower levels of baseball, people spend a lot of their money and energy working on things that do not have the type of effect on their baseball playing ability as they need.
Taking lessons from a qualified hitting or pitching instructor is very important, but too many players rely solely on that one thing to become a better player. If you go to a hitting instructor once/week, the other 5 of 6 days of the week need to be spent on your own in a cage or your garage working on your craft. It doesn’t matter if you have the best hitting coach in the world if you don’t work on your swing outside of your sessions.
We will discuss the 5 tools of baseball in a future article. People always try to convince me (or maybe themselves) as to why they can still play at a high level without having a good toolset. Below is a list of ONE thing to improve in each of the 5 tools you need:
Hitting for Power: Bat speed is one of the most underrated (and most improvable) keys in baseball! Everyone seems to want to work on how their swing works, but they don’t work on what is truly important. This is like a sprinter working on having perfect form, but never working on his or her explosiveness and always finishing last. Every time you swing the bat, you should ALWAYS be using max energy until your bat speed is at a high enough level. We have discussed bat speed and ways to improve it here in “The Importance of Bat Speed.“
Hitting for Average: The ability to get on-plane with a baseball early in the swing and stay on-plane for a long period of time is another critical factor in hitting. The best way to have a consistent swing is to work off of the tee every single day. If your swing is grooved, if the tee is in the same location, you should be able to hit the ball in the same spot every single time. If you can’t, you need to swing more until you have a consistent swing.
Speed: The one way I am going to mention to improve your overall speed and more importantly your functional speed is to work on your 1st few steps. The most explosive players (whether it be base runners or defenders) are able to be at full speed within a few steps. Working on your first step is something that can be done every day with very little energy or space. All you need is to work on starting and then run about 10 steps in each direction.
Arm Strength: This is much like bat speed in the fact that if you put a little work in, arm strength is very easily improved. Playing long toss is something you can do every day and it is the only way to improve your arm strength significantly. We have discussed this more in “The Definition of Long Toss.“
Defense: This is a bit broad and varies depending on the position you play. Whatever your position is, you need to be working every day on something that will make you better. For infielders, working on your hands is something easy to do and can be done inside by throwing a ball off of the wall. Outfielders can work on their 1st step by doing the drills above only adding in the drop back and coming forward steps.
Becoming a good baseball player is something that is very achievable by everyone who is willing to put in a ton of hard work! Each day, have a plan of what you want to work on! If you do this every day, you can improve greatly over the course of one winter!