By Steven Ellis, former Chicago Cubs pitching pro
Baseball is a skill sport and there’s no getting around the fact it takes a lot of sweat and determination to succeed. As long as there are games to play, every player will use some combination of baseball practice drills. It takes a lot of repetition and it takes a concentrated focus on doing things correctly: 200 swings in the cage will produce some sweat but it will be a wasted effort if it’s not focused on taking those swings the right way. Practice with a purpose.
I can tell you that during my career in professional baseball, both a player and as a coach, I have learned that great players don’t happen by accident. Roger Clemens, A-Rod, Barry Bonds, Greg Maddux - all these guys get after it when it comes to practice. Good practice habits are the fundamentals of success.
Excellence in anything doesn’t come without what some of my favorite old timers used to call, “A whole lotta want to.” If you’ll notice, one of the frequent reasons great players in any sport cite for their success, is that they are competitive in everything. You have to practice being competitive if you ever want to get better.
I know that “competition” is somewhat of a dirty word these days, not sensitive to those who are “otherwise gifted”. However, in baseball, being able to compete is the most important skill you can acquire.
If you love the game, practice shouldn’t really be a chore. Instead, it’s another opportunity to get better. Enjoy the challenge of practicing correctly and take some pride in the fact that you are willing to do what so many others think is too difficult.
I can't promise you that, if you bust your butt and dedicate yourself, you will play in the Major Leagues. What I can tell you, is that many players with talent never got a shot because they weren't willing to bust it.Baseball is a sport that over the years has developed MANY drills. Some good, some are eyewash (useless, but they let everyone else know that you’re ‘working hard'!) One of the great things about the game is that there is no ONE right way to do anything:if it works, keep using it. All drills, however, are intended to address the 3 things every player needs to able to do: hit, throw, catch/field.
One of the many great scenes in the movie “Bull Durham” is the manager, totally exasperated with his losing team, trying to get this point across after an early losing streak. He screams at them to all get into the shower (better acoustics for a tirade) and tells them,
“This is a simple game. You hit the ball. You throw the ball. You catch the ball....Got it?!”
There are many training devices, aids and gizmos out on the market but many of the best drills are still the same tried and true ‘old school’ ones. The fundamentals of baseball haven’t changed for a hundred years and the same principles of success that were true in Babe Ruth’s day are still true today.
Related Pitching Materials
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