Prepare a Hitting Practice Plan (Step 5)
The Hitting Practice Plan Series
Baseball and Fastpitch Softball
This Prepare a Hitting Practice Plan article has been excerpted from The Ultimate Hitting Training Guide (click to learn more about our new hitting drills book!).
In The Hitting Practice Plan Series, we guide the coach through developing a plan for the season. Using a top-down approach, the coach formulates their player skill development training plan step-by-step. Upon finishing Step 6 of this series, the end product is individual hitting practice plans which are customized and synchronized with the team’s priorities.
Prepare a Hitting Practice Plan – Objective 1: Compile Customized Hitting Goals for Each Player
For each player, the coach and player meet to review and discuss:
- The metrics from the hitter’s current assessment compared to their previous assessment (click the link for our free article Establish a Hitters Assessment Process).
- Each element in the hitter’s QAB% (The Ultimate Hitting Training Guide includes a useful group of drills inTool XXVII: Universal Quality At-Bat Drills).
- Progress towards current goals.
- Formation of new goals.
- Appropriate drills for practice and homework.
Use a spreadsheet to track each hitter’s accomplishments and priorities (click the link for our free download Matrix of Hitting Fundamentals). Limit goal setting to two to three goals customized for the specific hitter. Include how the attainment of each goal will be objectively measured.
Objective 2: Prepare the Hitting Practice Plan
The coach prepares a practice plan for the next practice leveraging the planning completed in steps 1 through 4 of the Hitting Practice Plan Series (click here to for a list of all six articles).
Here is a checklist of recommendations and ideas:
The Ultimate Hitting Training Guide includes a group of valuable drills in Tool I: Global Coordination drills for excellent exercises to do before practices and games.
- Types of Stations.
The ideal team hitting practice would be similar to a private hitting lesson – every drill customized to the hitter’s unique needs. But, time and resources are in short supply, so compromises are required.
When preparing station plans, think about:
- Universal (Absolute) Station.
Every hitter performs the drill in the same way with the same fundamentals. Exercises appropriate for Universal stations are grouped into Universal Tools.
Every hitter tries out options to identify productive changes to the specific hitter’s baseline. Drills appropriate for an Experimental station are grouped into Experimental Tools.
A retest station should be a staple at every team hitting practice (click our free article Establish a Hitters Assessment Process).
- Fit to Player
The “personal” station should train the hitter’s primary objectives as discussed and agreed upon in the retest process. Athletes like routines but also want things to be new and individualized. Solve this issue by having a station that is for “personal drills.”
- Progressively Build Automaticity.
When the hitter is 90% proficient off a tee and 75% proficient during front toss, switch to machine or live BP.
- Quality, Not Quantity.
Too often, players lack the focus or discipline to slow down and develop the proper technique and thought process. Consistently preach and ingrain that every swing should be deliberate and purposeful (The Ultimate Hitting Training Guide includes further information in the Stone VI: Deliberate, Deep, and Purposeful Practice). The coach sets the tone, beginning with a “deliberate” training plan.
- Stick to the Prioritized Plan.
If the hitting priority percentage determined in Prioritize Skills to Practice (click the link for Step 4 in the Hitting Practice Planning Series) was 50%, then one-half of all available practice time would have at least one station devoted to hitting. For a high school team practicing 10 hours per week, dedicate at least 5 hours of practice at least partially to hitting. Constructing practices in this way requires careful planning. Create skeleton plans for a month to get an overview of what it will take to accomplish goals.
At the end of the workout, evaluate, and debrief – were station objectives achieved? If not, why not? Adjust subsequent training accordingly.
Homework is usually tee work, or it can be using a pitching machine with a buddy. The coach can always tell when one of their players have been logging significant “alone” practice time.
Teams sometimes place too much emphasis on offseason physical conditioning at the expense of improving the swing. Hitters who devote time to strength training that is most beneficial for hitting success (for exercises to build bat speed and power specific to hitters click the link Strength and Conditioning Blog), but make working on their hitting mechanics the priority during the winter, will be the ones playing full-time during the spring and summer.
If the coach finds themselves with no full-time assistants and inconsistent, unknowledgeable helpers, here are a few ideas to make the best of a challenging situation:
- Utilize External Result focus drills (click The Magic of Hitting Focus for our free article describing how to increase practice efficiency and performance by adjusting mental focus), emphasizing targeting, which is self-teaching.
- Have players partner and assist each other.
- The coach should never be tied down to a particular station.
- Ask players to evaluate themselves and report to the coach on how they are progressing.
- Consistently make drills into individual and team competitions.
Objective 3: Organizational Practice Ideas
Objective 4: Gamify!
Hitters of all ages have more fun and are more focused when practices include elements of competition. Besides, applying performance pressure makes training more game-like, better preparing hitters to do “battle” with the pitcher in games.
Here are a few “gamifying” recommendations:
Anything can be measure and tracked. Consistently allow hitters the opportunity to “go beyond” what they have done before.
The Hitting Practice Plan Series
Using a top-down approach, the coach formulates their training plan step-by-step. The outcome is individual hitting practice plans which fit the team’s priorities. Click each of the links below to systematically build your practice plans for the upcoming year.
Building Rome Series Books: Building the High-Level Swing Series
Click the link Building the High-Level Swing Series for a detailed and comprehensive description of 100 hitting fundamentals and 140 step-by-step drills that efficiently construct the batting swing from the ground up.
In the Building Rome Series of books, the construction of skills are in functional order, providing a “roadmap” to becoming a great hitter.
All baseball and fastpitch softball players can “climb the Roman Coliseum steps” to become a powerful and productive hitter.
Enjoy the quest!