Unique Perspective: Pitching Aids
When the kids I coached were younger I would have somebody stand in the batters box to simulate the hitter, however as the kids got older and threw harder I found less volunteers willing to do this. Using the Designated Hitter, I found, was the best way to teach a pitcher to pitch inside and to work on other pitches that having a target is very important. It gives them a realistic target to aim at to hit the inside corner. It also is the most effective way to teach a pitcher to pitch inside to move a hitter off the plate. This is a pitch that is not a strike but instead is meant to move the hitter off the plate to make the outside pitch more effective and them less comfortable in the batters box. This is an indestructible piece of equipment and the deflections are safe when the Designated Hitter is struck with the pitch.
As the kids have gotten older I found some additional uses for it. I found the best way to teach the release point for a curve ball is to have a target for them to aim at when practicing it. Hitting the proper location is a very difficult thing to do on a curveball without a target. I scoot the Designated Hitter to be on the very inside portion of the batters box and have the pitcher aim at the front shoulder of the Designated Hitter. When the pitcher does this on a consistent basis it helps them with the muscle memorization of the release point on a curveball. I also found teaching a pitcher to “run” their changeup away from the hitter (that hits on the opposite side they are pitching from) is to use the Designated Hitter. Again this helps with the muscle memorization of the proper release point.
Having been a coach for over 15 years now I have learned the very important lesson of making sure every minute of the practice is effective. Typically I have 3 hours a week of practice time to get the team ready for 40 baseball games. You have to make sure each minute is used in the most effective way possible. Having pitchers throw bullpen sessions without a Designated Hitter (or someone standing in the batters box as long as you can find volunteers) is not as effective as it should be.
- Ashley Hewitt