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MaxBP Drill of the Week: Track & Catch

  • by Coach Neil
  • 3 min read

MaxBP Reaction Training Drill - Track & Catch [VIDEO]

Improved reaction timing is established with the use of the MaxBP pitching machine. It will improve your overall hand-eye coordination as well as increase your pitch recognition in the batter’s box through quicker adjustments to off-speed pitches.

What the Track & Catch reaction training drill focuses on?

In this video, Ryan Harrison of SlowTheGameDown demonstrates the value of using the MaxBP wiffle ball pitching machine with the “Track & Catch” training drill. Professional baseball player, Tyler Heineman, joins Harrison for the drill while displaying major league talent.

During the Track & Catch drill, use the hand closest to where the catcher and umpire would be sitting to catch the ball. This is because your swing starts from the rear hand, turns over and out through the hitter’s swing, as your front hand stays steady. Even while bunting, your rear hand leads to the ball's location. Therefore, use the hand closest to the catcher/umpire while completing the drill in a batter’s stance, ensuring that your body will always be sideways facing the machine.

Why is the Track & Catch reaction drill effective?

Patience is the real essence of baseball. Patience discourses consistency and it is the consistent ballplayer that plays long and well into a big-league career. The Track & Catch training drill focuses on a hitter’s ability to be patient in the batter’s box and wait for the right pitch. As an athlete, and more specifically as a baseball player, your hand-eye coordination on the field and in the batter’s box is everything. Remember, the first thing your coaches taught you as a young athlete was to follow the ball with your eyes and move your hands accordingly. 

The Track & Catch training drill improves the boundary of a hitter’s patience because drill’s objective is not to aimlessly swing at the ball but to catch the ball deep into the batter’s box (or the zone). The drill is only effective when (1) the hitter catches the ball with his bare hand, (2) while deep in the zone. The drill enforces the hitter to move as one with his hand and eyes, with little to no movement elsewhere.

More importantly, you must train your eyes and hands to work together, in tandem. Working in tandem is why the Track & Catch training drill is so important.  You are forced to find the ball and grab it with your bare hand. While repeating the training drill, you will increase your patience, reaction time, hand-eye coordination, and pitch recognition because you are anticipating the ball before a hit. However, the aim of the drill is not to hit, but to visualize the hit with your hand.

How can coaches implement Track & Catch with their teams?

One great aspect of the MaxBP pitching machine in addition to improved reactionary technique is the convenience of automatic pitching for a solo practice. Plug the machine in and simply place the wiffle balls into the open-air automatic-feeder to begin your training. In addition, the MaxBP machine is great for coaching feedback. Have a coach place whiffle balls into the open-air container, while the hitter prepares for the drill. As an enhancement, a third coach could give beneficial feedback during the drill on hitter hand placement and head movement.

What are different variations of the Track & Catch?

As a hitter or a receiver on the football field, the ball is never precisely in the desired zone. A coach or pitching assistant can easily control the direction and eventual location of the ball by moving the machine box and therefore the ball filter. The MaxBP machine’s transportability feature allows you to promptly control the location of the hitter’s zone through various placements of the ball filter.

Why is small ball training with a MaxBP machine important? 

Much like Chris Kyle’s motto, “Aim small, miss small”, from the movie, American Sniper, the aiming skill set is enhanced due to the size of failure during training. By training with smaller aims, you will develop greater focus strength while decreasing misses. The Track & Catch drill requires attention to hand-eye coordination as you train your body to work in unison. It is a difficult yet necessary task, and with the right focus, equipment, and mental attitude, will lead you to the elite level.