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9 Fun Hitting Drills for Youth Baseball Players

Mix up batting practice with drills from the top college and pro hitters.

Fun hitting drills for youth baseball players
Credit-Little League World Series/Big Al/Joker Mag

Before jumping into my favorite hitting drills, I want to emphasize one point: Every hitter is different.

The worst thing a coach can do is shout the same tired phrase to every player when he steps in the box (“Elbow up, son!”). It’s going to confuse a portion of your players because those words simply don’t mean anything to them.

As a coach, it’s your job to tailor your instruction to each player. Just as they learn differently in the classroom – some are visual learners, others auditory, etc. – they learn differently on the baseball field.

During my time as hitting coach at Penn State Brandywine, I gave each player an index card to keep in their bag. Each hitter would write 2 or 3 bullet points of their specific hitting keys – which we came up with individually during the offseason.

Here are a few examples of what those keys could look like:

  • Launch position = knob to catcher
  • Attack the inside part of the baseball
  • Stay “connected” (elbow tight to the body)
  • Powerful point of contact (stacked, connected, etc.)

Each player should think about whichever mental cues or phrases work best for them. For example, Mike Trout thinks about “getting on top” of the ball. He’s not actually doing that when you look at his swing. But it’s a mental cue that helps him stay on track in the batter’s box.

Now let’s get to the fun stuff. Here’s a breakdown of our top hitting drills for youth baseball players.

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Table of Contents

The Pea Drill

A pile of peas to emphasize the importance of the pea hitting drill

This one was introduced to me by my college hitting coach, and it quickly became my favorite drill.

It’s dead simple, improves hand-eye coordination, and hitters will love it.

All you need is a bag of frozen peas, and the hitter just needs his regular bat. Stand a few feet away and make sure you’re wearing sunglasses!

This is just like a regular front toss, but with a frozen pea instead of a baseball. Hitters take their normal swing and try to hit line drives back at the tosser.

The pea drill is perfect for pre-game warmups because it makes a real baseball look like a beach ball afterward. In fact, I hit a home run in my first at-bat after doing this pre-game drill for the first time! It definitely works.

Knock It Off!

Baseball on batting tee

Set up a tee with a ball of any size – baseball, softball, or even a soccer ball. Set up another tee about 15 feet away (or even closer for younger hitters). This is where your players will hit.

Have players take turns trying to hit the ball off their tee and knock off the ball on the other tee. For youth players, a bigger ball on the target tee makes sense.

This is a fun competition for the end of practice, and one of my favorite drills from my playing days. You can even sweeten the deal by giving players an incentive if they win (no clean-up duty that day, their dugout snack of choice, etc.)

Make sure you have a few sturdy hitting tees on hand for this one. See below for my personal recommendation:

TANNER Pro-Style Adjustable Hitting Tee
4.9
$89.99

This is one of the highest-rated pro-style batting tees on the market. Hitters love it because it's stable, durable, and doesn't go flying around after every swing.

Joker Mag is reader-supported. When you buy through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you.
03/08/2024 05:02 pm GMT

Top-Hand, Bottom-Hand

This drill requires a bat and a batting tee. Players should choke up on their bat as much as they have to in order to swing with one hand. For younger players, a one-hand training bat (like this) would work better.

The goal of this drill is to teach your hitters to stay through the ball beyond the point of contact. When done correctly, this drill will help minimize rolling over or “poking” at the ball.

Set the tee up belt-high and get in your normal stance. For the top-hand drill, hold the bat only with your top hand (right hand for righties, left hand for lefties) and hit the ball off the tee. A good way to think about the top hand is “putting a pizza in the oven”. Swing through the ball and finish your swing completely.

For the bottom-hand drill, do the opposite. Hold the bat only with your bottom hand (left hand for righties, right hand for lefties), and hit the ball off the tee. A good cue is to think “knob to ball”. This one is typically more challenging since it is typically done with a player’s non-dominant hand.

If a player is getting under the ball in game action, I like to focus more on the top-hand drill to help them stay strong through the baseball. If a player is rolling over and grounding out often, I zero in on the bottom-hand drill to strengthen their mind-muscle connection.

The goal of this drill is to consistently hit hard line drives off the tee. No weak contact.

Rawlings BIG STICK One-Hand Training Bat
$29.95

This 22" pro-grade ash training bat is ideal for any top-hand or bottom-hand hitting drills off a tee.

Joker Mag is reader-supported. When you buy through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you.
03/08/2024 05:51 pm GMT

Barry Bonds Toss

An illustration of Barry Bonds connecting on a home run swing
Barry Bonds is the MLB all-time home run leader with 762

This is a drill Barry Bonds used to do to keep his hand-eye coordination sharp.

You don’t need a bat for this one. Heck, you don’t even need a partner.

Simply get in your stance, toss the ball up in the air with your front hand, go through your swing motion, and catch the ball with your back hand at the point of contact.

For instance, righties will toss the ball up with their left hand and catch it with their right hand at the contact point. Vice versa for lefties.

The goal here is to keep our hitters’ eyes aligned with their hands. This will result in fewer swing-and-misses and more hard contact on gameday – just like Barry Bonds.

The Dynamite Drill

A soccer ball is perfect for the Dynamite Hitting Drill

Grab your normal bat, set the tee at a height you’re comfortable with, and – instead of a baseball – put a soccer ball on the tee.

I know what you’re thinking: “A soccer ball?!” That’s right. Allow me to explain.

A soccer ball is a larger and bulkier object than a baseball, which means it takes a stronger swing to hit it hard. Thus, the Dynamite Drill teaches hitters to drive through the ball and finish their swing.

This was one of my favorite drills whenever I was going through a slump.

JP Crawford Net Drill

The net drill – made famous by Robinson Cano and, later, JP Crawford – is perfect for players with longer swings. It teaches them to be quick and “short” to the ball, which will improve their ability to make consistent contact against live pitching.

Split the plate in half by placing an L-screen (or another tee, if you don’t have a screen) at the midway point of the plate. Have the hitter stand in their normal spot in the box – yes, it will feel very uncomfortable at first.

Then, toss the hitter pitches middle-in. This will force them to keep their hands tight to the body, bringing the knob of the bat directly to the ball, and taking a short and powerful swing.

A good cue here it to think “knob to the ball” or “stay inside the baseball”. Over time, hitters won’t even be thinking about the net. This short swing will become second nature.

Cody Bellinger “Step-Back” Drill

This is another drill that will feel odd at first, but just trust the process. Younger players often have a hard time engaging their lower half, and this is a great way to get them to start developing it.

Best started on a tee, hitters should begin with a narrower stance than usual. Then, take a small and controlled step back with their back foot, load and gather themselves, then explode through the baseball with a powerful swing.

While most drills focus on the top half (hands, eyes, etc.) this drill allows the hitter to feel their lower half engage. A strong lower half is what separates a doubles hitter from a home run hitter. Watch the video above for Cody Bellinger’s demonstration.

Happy Gilmore Drill

Another drill built to engage the lower half, this one pays homage to an all-time great sports movie: Happy Gilmore.

Start a few feet behind the tee. For righties: step behind your front leg with your back leg, land and load, and explode through the baseball with your lower half.

A good cue that works for me is to think of driving my back knee toward my stiff front leg. Another mental cue is to think of driving your back hip through the ball.

See the video above for a solid demo.

Two-Ball Soft Toss

Rounding out our list is another old favorite: two-ball soft toss.

Set up like a normal soft toss. The coach (or hitting partner) will toss up two baseballs to the hitter – one on top of the other. As he releases, he yells out “top” or “bottom”.

The hitter has to hit whichever ball his partner yells. Repeat this for 3 sets of 8 to 10 swings each.

Good for improving hand-eye coordination and reaction time, this is another fun drill to mix up your standard batting practice.

More fun hitting drills that didn’t make our final list:

Written By

Division III baseball alum (McDaniel College) and founder of Joker Mag. Sharing underdog stories to inspire the next generation.

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