If you have been reading our blog for awhile, you know that we write a lot about throwing with a purpose. That means that you are consistently working on something (like mechanics) every throw, even if you are just playing catch with your Dad or with your friends. You want to instill good throwing habits so they will show up on game day when you need it the most.
One of the fun games that I like playing with some of my students to instill the habit of “hitting spots” is what I call Five Buck Baseball.
Here’s how I play it:
I set up a baseball on a tee on one of the corners of the plate (set tee high or low) in the strike zone (never in the middle of the plate of course). The pitcher practices hitting the ball off the tee from the mound. After about twenty pitches I tell the pitcher I will give him five dollars if he hits the ball off the tee his next throw. The throw cannot hit the tee, it has to hit the ball directly to count.
Why do I do this? It’s a ton of fun! It helps students focus on the task at hand instead of thinking about the end result before it actually happens (the mental game). It also helps keep their pitching mechanics regardless of the situation. It helps pitchers hit spots instead of just the strike zone. Did I mention it’s a ton of fun? The students love it; even the collegiate level pitchers get into it.
If you are a coach, you will find it interesting that some pitchers will think about the money so much, (mainly the younger pitchers) that they start aiming the ball. They usually miss the first attempt right after the $5 offer. Some change their mechanics and aim the ball without following through. Other students grip the ball too tight and get too aggressive (uptight) in their throwing.
This opens up many opportunities as a coach to teach your pitchers about the mental game of Baseball. It is also a lot of fun to have a “friendly competition” against your students and whip the snot out of them, you know; the ones that think there all that.
Of course you’re going to need some pitching mechanics training if you want to hit the ball off the tee consistently. For that, I recommend picking up our pitching mechanics DVD. It comes with 8 bonus products as well that will help you understand everything from pitching grips to core strength.