The concept behind small ball training is simple - practice with a smaller ball than you’ll be hitting on game day. Once you get accustomed to tracking and hitting a smaller ball, like a golf Wiffle ball, the regulation-sized ball will be easier to see and hit. Small ball training drills practiced with small Wiffle balls improve hand-eye coordination, pitch tracking, and bat speed.
Small ball training is especially beneficial for your swing because it teaches you to line up your bat to the ball. The difference between star hitters and average hitters is consistency - reliably being able to connect bat with the ball. This tricky exercise will work your hand-eye coordination so you’ll have a better chance of making more solid contact when it comes time for you or your players to step in the box.
Coaches suggest using small ball training as a warm-up to regular batting cage workouts. Just like weightlifters warm up with lighter loads before hitting their competition weights, batters should prepare with smaller balls. Coaches and players may notice an increase in performance as a result of improved focus and ball tracking. This warm-up can also be used before games to give players a confidence boost and get them in the right mindset to drive doubles into the gap.
Another variation on small ball training is to use a small bat. The concept here is the same - practice with smaller equipment so that stepping back up to regulation-size bats and balls will be easier. Think of it as the batter’s answer to a marathon runner’s high altitude training. This added challenge forces the players to connect the bat and ball and concentrate on pitch tracking. We suggest using the small barrel BetterBat or Insider Bat in place of a regulation-sized bat during practice to fine-tune your training.
Now that you’re ready to start thinking small, it’s time to get to work. Luckily, you don’t have to drag a teammate out for hours of practice - you can work on your swing anywhere your team practices. Use a reaction training tool, like a MaxBP Small Wiffle ball pitching machine, which is portable and feeds itself. Each MaxBP pitching machine can hold over 100 golf ball-sized Wiffle balls and offers four hours or more of training on a single battery charge.
Although these small balls and bat training drills may be frustrating at first, this technique can benefit players of any age and skill level. If you want to sharpen hand-eye coordination, improve focus and knock it out of the park, remember to think small.