3 Drills to Improve Hand-Eye Coordination

This article appears in the January/February edition of Junior Baseball.

by: Don Marsh

Since baseball is, after all, a game that puts an emphasis on hand-eye coordination more than size or strength, I’ve always liked engaging players in drills that help bring this skill to a higher level. My favorite drill is probably a base-to-base drill that works like this.

Half the players form a line alongside second base, the other half form a line alongside either first or third base. The players line up side-to-side, not front-to- back. The drill begins when one player jogs a few feet to the base, turns and throws the ball toward the other base. He or she then moves to the other side of the base, to wait for the next turn.

When the ball is in the air, the first player in the other line moves to his or her base, catches the ball and throws it back, as the next player in that line moves to catch the ball and throw it back again. After having a turn, each player moves to the other side of the base, forming a new line to keep the drill going.

This drill is probably my favorite because it involves throwing and fielding skills at a very high level and because it also teaches the value of teamwork. The drill becomes a success only when all the players have done well. Start off with a modest goal, say 25 good catch-and-throws without the ball being dropped or thrown away. When that goal is reached, increase to something higher.

Another good drill for fewer players involves having them stand in a circle, gloves off, and in the ready position for in-fielders, with backs flat and both hands out front. One player rolls the ball toward another on the other side of the circle, who uses his or her hands to roll it back toward another player. The object is not to hold the ball, but to keep it moving back and forth, across the circle, for as long as possible. This drill also can be done with gloves on and players standing more upright, letting the ball move back and forth across the circle touching it only with the glove hands.

A third drill that’s good for both hand-eye coordination and overall conditioning can be accomplished with just two players. One player is on his or her knees, about 10 feet away from the other, who waits in the ready position. This is another drill accomplished with gloves off. The kneeling player has two baseballs. The first is rolled to the right or left of the other player, who then moves, crab-like, to field the ball with bare hands and tosses back. While the first ball is being tossed back, the second ball is rolled a few feet to the right or left. When it’s tossed back, the first ball is rolled again. The better the players, the quicker the pace becomes.

I encourage players to take time - at least 30 minutes per practice - for drills like these, especially early in the season. Each of them, and there are other good ones too, helps take the rust off the basic baseball skills that have been put to bed over the long winter. You’ll be amazed how easy the more complex skills in baseball become, when you’ve taken the time to master the basic skills beforehand.

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