Updated: May 29, 2015
Best Baseball Training AidsBecoming the Best Baseball Player you can be
While most people who put on a baseball glove or pick up a baseball bat for the first few times have dreams of the Big Leagues, at some point many of us realize that this dream is not realistic. However, that does not mean we need to stop trying to be the best baseball players we can be. You might be coaching your kids' baseball team or playing baseball recreationally yourself; armed with a knowledge of some of the best baseball training aids out there you can help improve anyone's baseball game. And there are an awful lot of ways to do it too. Which are the best baseball batting aids out there? Are there recommended pieces of equipment which can be used as baseball batting aids? What are some good drills to hone skills such as base running, defense, pitching, and batting? In this guide we will take a look at some of the most popular baseball training aids out there.
Real Life makes Great Baseball Practice - Baseball Camps
No matter where we looked, whether at sites such as Shapefit.com which is run by former professional players or Baseballtips.com designed specifically for younger baseball players, the #1 baseball training aid recommendation was baseball intense situations such as camps and of course practices. Attending a baseball camp means being guided in a real life situation, a team situation, by people who have made a living off of the game of baseball. You will find specific drills geared towards offense and defense, as well as towards the position on the field you play regularly. The best baseball training aids will always be those which put players into a game type situation so that they can hone the skills necessary to play their positions well. Coaches can also benefit from baseball training camps. If none are available then it is good to check out ideas in books such as The Baseball Drill Book and apply them to team practice (this works for the individual player as well). Another advantage to training camps and regular practices with other players is that you have people to give you tips and advice, and spot the areas you need to strengthen. If your elbow is hanging too low as you bat or if you jerk your glove up at the last minute before snagging a grounder, you might not realize it but an observer will.
Speaking of ground balls, grounder drills are some of the best ways to sharpen your skill set in this important area. Infielders in particular should drill regularly on the proper fielding of grounders, as these will be the most common and most difficult types of hits they will play. Have another person throw balls on the ground towards you, hard, at first. This will allow the thrower to simulate any situation at will; breaking the ball left or right, bouncing it on the ground, and so on. Of course, you will eventually need to start facing the heat of a ball as it comes off the bat, so put that into play as well. Remember to focus on fielding the ball between your feet, keeping your eye on it at all times. This drill can also get a player used to scanning the terrain for any dips or bumps which will cause the ball to behave in a non-linear fashion, key to fielding a ground ball without getting hurt. In terms of baseball training tools, you can use something like the Louisville Slugger Quad Pro Rebounder Net. Just throw a baseball at either of its angled surfaces, and you get pop-flys or grounders coming back at your for catching and fielding practice.
Individual baseball training aids - Batting Help - Fielding Practice
You won't always be able to muster up a team or even a handful of players for some regular baseball practice. Fortunately, there are many great baseball aids which can be used in those times when you want to hone your baseball skills on your own. Finding great baseball training equipment is a good first step, and there are thousands of pieces out on the market today. There are two main areas in baseball which can be practiced individually; batting and pitching. Batting has the most aids and advice out there by far, as every player will be called upon to bat at some point. Sites such as baseball-equipment-review.com recommend a wide variety of batting aids for those wishing to become better hitters, and it starts with none other than the baseball tee. Batting tees made by MacGregor, Franklin, Mizuno and others are not just for kids. They are useful tools that can help players at all levels work on their hand eye coordination. Look for an adjustable base and a stand which slides up and down so you can get comfortable swinging throughout your strike zone. Another great batting aid is a batting trainer such as the Derek Jeter Hurricane Batting Trainer by Pro Performance Sports (this link also shows a video of the batting trainer in use). Durable and with plenty of moving parts, this great piece of baseball aid equipment can simulate the movement of a ball as it is coming towards a player. It too can be set at different levels. More expensive models such as this one (it costs about $190 retail) can simulate a number of different pitches, including curveballs and sliders, due to its adjustment features. A great drill is to wind the batting aid up for your first swing, and then continue to try to hit the ball (not the arm!) as it swings around after. This is a perfect way to simulate the speed at which pitches will come at you in a game. Of course if you have a lot of money to spend and someone to help you pick balls up, you can spring for your own pitching machine (they run from $70 for a Franklin Sports Pitching Machine to $800 for a Zooka machine and above). A better option might be just to go to the batting cages, though, where you'll only spend about $10 for an hour worth of practice. A good baseball training tip? Try using a bat that is a pound or so heavier than what you would play with in a game situation when you practice batting. It'll give you more power and faster reaction times when you use that lighter bat.
According to sites such as muhltech.com, pitching targets and pads are still the best baseball training aids for the pitcher. Make sure the pads have clearly marked areas that show you where the strike zone is, where the batter stands, and so on. Set up a plate below the target and hurl those balls at different speeds. The best baseball pitching aids will have padding which “records” where your ball hit, so you can make adjustments as necessary. And for catchers? Well, if you want to be able to face the hardest pitches and are brave enough, one of the best baseball drills you can do is practice with a pitching machine. Just don't forget your equipment!