10 Ways To Practice Alone
By: Wayne Mazzoni - Pitching Coach - Sacred Heart University
While the access to solid coaching is much greater today than at any time in our sports history, one thing this has led to is a generation of kids that can't, don't, or won't practice on their own. So here is a list of things you can do to become great at your game either alone, or with one other teammate.
1. Hands drills.
All you need is a ball and a wall. You can throw the ball off the wall and work a multitude of ground balls. At you, forehand, backhand, short hops, long hops, charge plays, you name it. If you have a partner with you, he can stand behind you and throw the ball off the wall and you can react. Make it a contest to see who can keep the most balls in front.
2. Location drills.
For pitchers looking to become professional glove hitters, take some athletic tape, go to a wall and put up a strike zone. If you are working on a certain pitch (change down and away) throw an X on the wall to give you a visual of where you want to locate. If you have a teammate make it a location game or stand in for each other so you can work on hitting spots with a batter in the box.
3. Arm strength.
To get a stronger arm you need to throw the ball hard and often. All you need is a net, tarp, wall, or for that matter a field and a bucket of balls. Simply throw on your own.
4. Defensive plays
So many of us work on playing catch with a partner at practice and we also take a million ground balls and fly balls, but to make great plays in a game, often you have to field on the run or dive, and then come up and throw. So you can work on this on your own. So if you are a shortstop and you want to work on the Jeter play in the hole, jump pivot and throw, simply start with a ball in your mitt, take your normal prep step, react to the backhand in the hole, go down to field it, jump turn while transferring and throw.
5. Base hit bunting.
Whether you go to a cage with a machine, get a self feeding machine, or a partner to throw to you, you can become a tremendous base hit bunter with daily practice. While bunting may not be a huge piece of high school/summer ball, it is a huge part of the college game. Guys who base hit bunt well, always stay in the line up and are VERY hard to defend.
6. Agility and sprint work.
While of course you can workout on your own, to become an elite baseball player, being agile and fast is simply a matter of your desire to practice. Working on steal starts, straight sprints, ladder work, plyometrics doesn't take any fancy equipment or facility. Just the desire to become great.
7. Pick offs.
Great pitchers take pride in their fielding and in their ability to shut down the running game. To work on your pick off move you can practice it often. Film it and review if you can, but you can also work on your quickness and location. Simply put a target or a bucket at the height you want to throw your pick off and work on spotting up. After all a pick off is a quick pitch with short arm action. If you have a partner he can time you or you can compete for accuracy.
8. Tag plays.
Catcher and infielders can work on tag plays by simply throwing a ball off a wall and then taking the return throw and tagging the base or plate. To make it more interesting you can make a tag and then come up and fire as if another running is running after you make your tag which will surely come up in a game situation.
9. Relays and quick hands.
Again, the wall is your friend. You can do quick hands catches off the wall, get it in and get it out and you can also throw a ball off a wall and then set up as if you are cutting or relaying the throw.
10. Tee work.
Done wrong the tee can be a complete sleeper of a drill. Done right it can be a great way to improve. First off, always start looking out at a pitcher. Never stare at the tee the whole time. It's not golf. But you can also move the tee around to work on various pitches. You can also add in some visualization where you imagine a certain pitch coming in and then swing. Meaning the ball on the tee can just be sitting there or it can be a lefty hanging curveball that you see, wait on, and pound up the middle. Albert Pujlous does more tee work than anything else and he seems to hit ok.