For young baseball players who are aspiring to be pitchers, developing good habits and practicing the fundamentals of pitching is critical. With the level of competition in baseball rising consistently, parents and coaches of young pitchers want to make sure they get the reps to stay competitive in youth baseball leagues and to prepare themselves for high school and college baseball, and possibly beyond.

In this article, I am going to share with you three simple drills to use for helping young pitchers develop balance and increase the velocity of their pitches without even using their throwing arms. I am also embedding a video demonstrating how to do the drills.

These three drills focus on balance techniques as opposed to the arm motion, giving young pitchers the ability to make progress in their game without fatiguing their throwing arms. The majority of pitching drills involve (naturally) throwing the ball. For youth baseball players, throwing too much at a young age can damage their developing arms. Use these drills as a core supplement for other strength training and throwing drills.

The three drills I’ll cover here are:

  1. Fence Hip Fall Drill: This drill trains young pitchers to lead with their hips, which give them more torque when they rotate
  2. Reverse Toe Tap Drill: This works the reverse stabilizers in the back leg to create better balance and overall athleticism.
  3. Ball Pickup Drill: This drill allows a young pitcher to develop balance and leg strength as he reaches down while standing on one leg and picks up balls off the ground

 

These three tips are demonstrated by Coach Justin of Ultimate Baseball Training. You can see his full video demonstration below my description of the three drills below. I’ve also included pictures and videos of my son demonstrating these drills.

Fence Hip Fall Drill

In this drill, you are training your young pitcher not to open up his front leg too soon, a natural habit for pitchers that causes them to lose what is often referred to as “early momentum.” Leading with the hips allows pitchers to build up that early momentum that translates into a their being the driving force behind getting velocity on the ball once the torso and arm follow.

By including the Fence Hip Fall Drill in the routine of youth pitchers, they will become more comfortable leading with their hips and can overcome the natural habit of opening up too early and losing that momentum from their stride.

This drill should be repeated 20-30 times each session to create the feedback channel that will help the pitcher become more comfortable leading with his hip.

Reverse Toe Tap Drill

With the reverse toe tap drill, the young pitcher will start off in the normal stretch position. He’ll bring his leg up to parallel as if he’s going to begin his delivery, but instead of moving towards the plate, he’ll bring his leg back back down moving it slightly away from the plate, crossing his front foot over his back foot. He’ll then bring his leg back up as if beginning his motion to the plate, but instead he’ll bring his foot back down to the stretch position.

A variation of this drill includes going through the process once, and on the second time through going through the motion of pushing off and simulating a movement toward home plate.

Doing this drill on a regular basis with young pitchers helps them build their stabilizer muscles in their front and back feet, giving them more control over their delivery.

Baseball Pickup and Put Down Drill on One Leg

This drill is another one that works on the stabilizer muscles in a young pitcher’s legs. The drill involves putting a ball down on the ground in front of the pitcher, and having him reach down to pick it up. The pitcher starts the drill in the stretch position. A ball is laid on the ground about 6-12 inches out from his back leg.

While bending the back leg, which will be supporting his entire body, his front leg swings the opposite direction to the direction he’s bending to provide balance

Have the pitcher reach down and pick up the ball, then come back to stretch position. Then have the pitcher repeat the motion, this time setting the ball back down on the ground. The pitcher repeats this drill again and again, each time focusing on maintaining balance.

This drill can fatigue a young boy’s legs, so it’s best to allow him to do a up to 10 reps, then take a break before doing more. In one workout session, 20-30 of these reps should be sufficient.

A variation on this drill involves using more than one ball, with each ball separated by 6 inches or so. This allows the pitcher to work through a range of 18-24 inches, reaching down at different angles to up the two or three (however many you decide to use) separate balls.

Pitching Workout Schedule With All Three Drills

These three drills can be used together is a kind of balance-focused pitching workout, or they can be used between throwing drills to help a young pitcher increase his balance and his ability to use his lower body to create momentum for a pitch. These drills also give a young pitcher the ability work on his game and improve without throwing too much, which can injure his arm and set him back.

There is a tendency among young pitchers to focus so much on their upper body that they don’t give their arm enough rest. These pitching balance drills will give a young pitcher’s elbow and shoulder (the most commonly injured parts of a pitcher’s throwing anatomy) a much needed rest.

Here is a sample workout schedule using these three drills

In this workout schedule, a young pitcher would spend 30-45 minutes working through these exercises, taking a break whenever he feels fatigued. The drills should emphasize maintaining posture and balance over quickly hustling through the routine.

This schedule would complement other pitching workout activities that involve throwing and other pitching mechanics.

Monday Workout

  • Fence Hip Fall Drill: 30 reps
  • Reverse Toe Tap Drill: 30 reps
  • Ball Pickup Drill:
    • 20 reps with balance pause (allowing the front leg to support the pitcher)
    • 10 reps with continuous balance (not allowing the front leg to come to rest)

Wednesday Workout

  • Fence Hip Fall Drill: 20 reps
  • Reverse Toe Tap Drill: 20 reps
  • Ball Pickup Drill:
    • 5 reps with balance pause
    • 5 reps with continuous balance

Repeat each of the three drills, this time with less reps.

  • Fence Hip Fall Drill: 10 reps
  • Reverse Toe Tap Drill: 10 reps
  • Ball Pickup Drill:
    • 3 reps with balance pause
    • 3 reps with continuous balance

Friday Workout

  • Fence Hip Fall Drill: 30 reps
  • Reverse Toe Tap Drill: 30 reps
  • Ball Pickup Drill:
    • 10 reps with balance pause
    • 5 reps with continuous balance