Effective drills for hitting outside pitches (softball and baseball)
Hitting to the opposite field is one of the most important aspects of offense in softball…and baseball, for that matter.
Why is it so important to know how to hit outside pitches?
-As a right handed hitter, hitting to right field is necessary to advance runners in scoring position (2nd and/or 3rd base)
-If you CAN NOT hit the outside pitch, pitchers and catchers will find out. That’s where they will pitch you!
Why should you listen to me?
I played 4 years of collegiate softball at the Division 1 level. Yes, all four years were at the same university. I started and played in every single game from day one of my freshman year to the end of my senior season. These are the main hitting drill we did. Yes, they got repetitive and boring, but they were effective.
3 softball drills for hitting outside pitches
1. Tee drill, most obvious: You can do this one by yourself. All you need is a tee, bat, a portable plate, and balls. (You can hit into a fence, or use the field—a shagger would be nice)
Take your trusty tee and set it up on the outside part of the plate. Adjust the height of the tee so that you are practicing hitting outside high, outside middle, and outside low balls. Also move the tee to the front of the plate and to the rear of the plate. Notice where you are most comfortable, and have the most power hitting! This drill will help you to keep your hips closed. It will also show you where you have the most power to the opposite field (high, middle, or low).
**Added bonus: Make sure to keep your hips “closed.” Do not let your hips fly open, as this will take away from your power to the opposite field. (Opening your hips early will also pull your head off the ball, making it MUCH more difficult to see the ball and wait on it properly).
2. Pitching machine: You can do this one yourself at an automated batting cage, or grab a buddy to feed your own pitching machine.
Set the pitching machine to throw to the outside of the plate. Practice waiting on the ball longer than you ever thought you could wait …..THEN swing! You’ll surprise yourself with how long you can actually wait for the ball to get to you. This drill will help you with timing on the outside pitches.
**To really test your skills, make sure the pitcher changes the speed and location of the pitches.
3. Buddy drill: You WILL need a buddy for this one. You will also need small whiffle balls (the size of golf balls), and a small stick (the thickness of a broom handle and about 2 feet long).
Kneel on your back knee (righties, this will be your right knee….lefties, your left knee). Hold the stick with one hand only. Start with your front hand and hit a few. Then, swing with your rear hand. Have a partner stand over the outside of the plate and drop the whiffle balls, one at a time, from the height of their shoulder. To increase the difficulty, have your partner keep lowering the point of release. This drill works on hand/eye coordination as well as bat speed. It will also really make you keep your hands inside the ball.