There are a lot of training aids on the market that can help with pitching, throwing, fielding and hitting. While most athletes and coaches are familiar with pitching machines and throwing nets, it is the unique and innovative aids that are taking the baseball world by storm.
9 Baseball Training Aids
Here are some descriptions and explanations of 9 training devices you may want to check out, as well as how much they typically cost.
A reaction ball is a rubber ball-like object with 4 to 6 uniquely shaped protrusions. When the ball is thrown toward the ground or a wall, it bounces in an unpredictable way. This forces players to work on hand-eye coordination, reaction time, and intent focus on the ball.
One of the benefits of a reaction ball versus a traditional baseball is the ability to use the aid solo. The player just needs a wall to throw the reaction ball against. When the ball bounces back, its trajectory will be random, just as if another person had thrown the ball for field training purposes.
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The Hit-A-Way is a tethered ball that can be attached to a pole or tree for endless swinging and hitting practice. When it’s hit, the ball wraps around the pole as far as it can before the spring in the elasticized cord winds the ball backwards for another hit.
This is another excellent solo training aid that can be used at home.What’s great about the Hit-A-Way and other similar devices is the number of swings per hour that can be achieved. So not only does the player not have to worry about enlisting a pitcher or a batting cage, but he can also get in as many as 500 attempts in 60 minute
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Pro-Hitter Shock Absorbing Disc
The Pro-Hitter is a resin disc that fits over the thumb during batting. The disc serves a twofold purpose. One, it helps reinforce the correct grip on the bat by keeping a gap between the base of the thumb and the bat. Two, it can help prevent injury, including the risk of bone bruising, by reducing the shock transmitted by the bat. The resin material is rubbery and can absorb shock and reverberation.
You’ll really notice this in the reduction of stinging hands. When a player’s hands aren’t suffering from the pain and sting, they’re better able to put power into the next ball.This device has been popular among the major and minor leagues, where it is thought to improve bat swing and control by keeping the bat from coming too close to the base of the hand.
The Pro-Hitter can be used by left- and right-handed batters and will work with or without gloves. It comes in a variety of colors to help with conspicuousness or matching the team uniform.
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A weighted ball is designed to work similarly to resistance bands. The idea is to work the throwing muscles beyond their normal workload so that a standard baseball becomes comparatively lighter and easier to throw.
Weighted balls are a very realistic and inexpensive way to get a proper arm workout. You may be able to work the same muscles in the gym with heavier weights, but you won’t be working on the form and motion of a real throw. This is the best way to strengthen and train the muscles while still working on the feet, hips and follow-through for a strong throw with peak velocity.
Weighted training balls come in a variety of weights, although they are all the same size as a standard baseball. A standard baseball weighs between 5 and 5.25 ounces. A weighted ball will weigh between 7 and 12 ounces.
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Fielding Training Pads
The idea behind a fielding pad is to train players to have quick hands. The pad serves as a way to stop and block the ball, but it doesn’t hold it like a glove. This forces the players to grab the ball with their other hand. The goal is to keep players from pocketing the ball in their glove then reaching into it to retrieve it. By using the glove as a block and immediately getting the other hand in, you reduce the time it takes to deliver the ball with a throw.
These training aids also help reinforce the need to get in front of the ball rather than sticking the gloved hand out to the side.There are several brands of fielding pads. Some of them are curved to better fit the hand. The other difference you’ll notice is in the quality and density of the foam.
You can also look for more glove-like pads, but these will usually be more expensive. They’re designed with smaller pockets and webbing and stiffer leather to provide the same hard-to-catch effect that forces the player to use two hands.
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A throwing brace is worn around the upper and lower arm to help position the arm correctly for an effective, powerful throw.
Most braces are made with Velcro bands and some stiff connecting material that prevents the player from lowering their elbow, throwing from behind the ear, or wrapping the ball behind the head. The arm is kept at an 85 to 90 degree angle. The result is both a stronger throw and a reduced risk of injury to the rotator cuff, shoulder, elbow and ligaments.
Some braces go a step further with a band that loops around the thumb for extra resistance and correction. The thumb loop also helps keep the brace in place. The downside of these aids is that a poor fit can render the brace useless, and overextending can wear out the elastic resistance.
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A pitching machine is designed to pitch balls to a batter or to mimic pop ups and fly balls for the outfielders. Most machines have variable speeds and styles of pitching as well as a randomized mode to keep the players on their toes. There are several factors you’ll want to consider in a pitching machine.
First, how many balls does the machine hold in reserve, if any? Some machines will require you to reload one baseball at a time, while others may hold up 12 or more balls in a reserve chute. The second consideration is the speed at which the pitching machine can throw. You don’t want it too fast for junior leagues or two slow for varsity leagues. A standard pitching machine will throw between 15 and 52 mph. To go any faster, you’ll pay a premium.
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There are a few types of netted baseball equipment. In general, the net will focus on either pitching or hitting practice, but the occasional training aid will serve both purposes.
For example, you can pick up a rebounder that helps train pitchers. The netted material is springy enough to absorb the ball without it bouncing straight back. Some rebounders contain a second side that features a target or bag for which the pitcher aims. This can help with accuracy. A good rebounder will be at least $50, but most are around the $80-100 mark.
Your other netting option is for batting practice. These nets have to be used with a tee, so they’re really best for swing form rather than the real timing and response to a pitched ball. For this reason, a batting net is more suitable for younger players.
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A radar gun is a great tool for any coach’s repertoire, but they can be tricky to buy.
Radar guns come in a wide range of prices, from $100 to $1500. Unfortunately, any radar gun less than $100 is likely to be inaccurate or poorly made. The higher the price, generally speaking, the more accurate the radar will be.
As for the functionality, the radar gun is an effective tool to measure progress. A lot of players have an idea of what they think they’re pitching or throwing, but a radar gun is the only way to really get an accurate assessment.
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