Watching your pitcher lose her control or focus is one of the most painful things that can happen as a coach. Help her practice both with this challenging and fun Knock-Off Drill.
Using this Knock-Off drill will challenge your pitchers and force them to improve their focus and control.
Designing pitching practices that equate to game success can be tough. The game presents so many challenges to a pitcher’s focus and attention, and the strike zone is so un-forgiving. And yet we often practice in a very distraction reduced environment with a very soft and forgiving strike zone.
So here’s a very challenging and yet compelling practice drill that is by no means easy, and yet the challenge of the drill will improve your pitcher’s control and focus, and they’ll actually enjoy the difficulty.Here’s how it works: (Option 1)
- Place a batting T with a ball on it at any height, and put it on one side of the plate. (Note – make the T higher or lower than the bucket height).
- On the other side of the plate put a bucket with its lid turned upside down. And on the lid, place any kind of big ball (either a bouncy ball, a basketball, soccerball or volleyball).
- Your pitchers will alternate first trying to knock-off the big ball, and then the regular ball.
You’ll notice in the Option 1 picture that I’ve simply dumped out all the balls that were in the bucket and left them scattered behind homeplate and the T. This was on purpose to create visual chaos for the pitchers. Part of having control as a pitcher is being able to manage the different things that distract them during a game. Sights, sounds and emotions are present all the time in games and yet very seldom are any of these present in our practices – so scatter balls all over to force your pitchers to zero-in on the ball that matters and tune out the ones that don’t!
When your pitchers first try this they’ll miss by a lot since they don’t believe they can do it. But then they’ll quickly start missing smaller each pitch until they’re able to knock-off either ball from either side.Option 2:
- Place a batting T with a ball on it on one side of the plate.
- On the other side of the plate, put a bucket on its side angled slightly up by placing a shoe or 2 balls under the front lip.
This gives your pitchers a more drastic location difference between the bucket and the ball. They can throw any of their moving pitches at the ball on the T (they might need to adjust the height based on the pitch) and then use the bucket for their changeups or drops.
Be sure to switch buckets and T’s to the other side so your pitchers get practice on both sides of the plate at both heights. But using these challenging, yet possible type of drills really does help your pitchers get more engaged, improve their focus and most of all – improve their control!Option 3:
- Put bungee cords around 2 buckets and stick the handles of 2 different sized plungers in the bungee cords.
- Then place 2 bigger-type balls on the 2 plungers.
- The pitchers are trying to knock off both balls in 2 pitches.
- They can use fastballs, changeups as well as any of their other pitches.
For more help with your pitching workouts, check out the following: