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7 Hitting Drills Every Youth Baseball Player Should Know

One thing you hear coaches repeat over and over again is that practice makes perfect. In fact, Cal Ripken Sr is famously quoted as saying “it’s not practice that makes perfect, but perfect practice that makes perfect.”

This famous quote from Cal Ripken Sr outlines just how important practice is, especially for youth ballplayers. And the first step to practicing hitting is knowing exactly which hitting drills to perfect.

Youth baseball hitter making contact with a pitch

It’s not practice that makes perfect, but perfect practice that makes perfect.

Cal Ripken Sr

There are hundreds of youth baseball hitting drills that players could utilize to improve their hitting, but the drills below are the specific drills that I’ve done in the past that have made a noticeable difference in my hitting.

7 Hitting Drills for Youth Baseball Players

1) Front Toss

The front toss is a simple, but effective, youth-hitting drill. A big benefit of the front toss drill is that the pitcher is almost guaranteed to throw a strike, which means the batter will be able to swing at a lot of strikes in a short amount of time.

What is front toss in baseball? The front toss in baseball is a drill where the pitcher positions themselves behind a screen that is roughly 10 feet in front of the batter. The pitcher will use a similar arm motion for each throw and deliver the ball underhand into the strike zone.

This drill is effective because the batter knows that almost all of the pitches will be strikes, which means they will be able to focus more on their swing mechanics and less on wondering where the pitch will end up.

Performing the Front Toss Drill

Items needed for drill:

  • Pitcher
  • Screen (for the pitcher to stand behind)
  • Baseballs
  • Bat

How to perform the front toss drill:

  • Position the pitching screen about 20 to 30 feet in front of where the batter will be standing
  • The pitcher takes their position behind the screen and waits for the batter to get ready
  • The pitcher will then deliver the ball underhand, with a similar arm motion each time
  • The batter swings at strikes while focusing on the mechanics of their swing

2) Off-Speed Practice with Tee

To see this drill in action, check out this video where I start off by hitting a traditional front toss from the pitcher, but the very next pitch is where I need to recognize the pitch is a breaking ball.

This is one of my favorite drills to practice hitting off-speed pitches. It’s like combining the front toss drill with some tee work.

This drill works very much like the traditional front toss drill, but we also add in the extra element of hitting off a tee whenever the pitcher doesn’t release the ball. Performing this drill will help with the mental aspect of noticing an off-speed pitch.

It can be tough for most players to practice hitting off-speed pitches in practice. Most pitchers will not throw multiple curveballs to a batter during practice. If you’re lucky enough to be hitting in a cage where the machine can throw curveballs, the machine usually has only one setting and it’s easy to get into the groove of seeing one type of pitch.

In order to get a batter into the correct mindset during a breaking pitch, the batter must have practice being caught off-guard by a breaking pitch.

This drill combines the element of seeing normal fastballs, but also develops your reaction time to off-speed pitches by helping you stay back when you recognize an off-speed pitch is coming.

Items needed for drill:

  • Pitcher
  • Screen (for the pitcher to stand behind)
  • Baseballs
  • Bat
  • Tee

To perform the drill:

  • The pitcher should be set up behind the screen and at about 20 to 30 feet in front of the batter
  • Place the tee so the baseball is on the outside plate, but still within the strike zone
  • The pitcher will begin throwing front toss, trying to hit the inside part of the plate
  • Every couple of pitches, the pitcher will fake the front toss. When the batter recognizes no pitch has been thrown, this should trigger them to pause for a moment and swing at the ball on the tee.

As mentioned above, this is easily one of my most favorite drills for hitting off-speed pitches. After the first time my coach introduced me to this drill, I was able to stay back on a curveball and get a base hit in my very next game. Right after I had made solid contact with that curveball I had flashbacks to this drill because I knew it had helped me get that base hit.

3) Soft Toss

The soft toss drill is one of the oldest drills in baseball and is a great drill to get kids to practice their swing.

Soft toss does not use a lot of equipment and it allows the batter to hit more strikes than they normally would with other types of batting practices.

When swinging at a soft toss pitch, the idea is to focus on timing the pitch and hitting the ball with the sweet spot of the bat. The more you can hit off of the sweet spot of the bat, the further you can hit the ball.

Items needed for drill:

  • Baseballs
  • Bat
  • Pitcher

To perform the soft toss drill:

  • The pitcher who is tossing will need to be set up at about a 45-degree angle from the front of the batter, typically on one knee
  • Using the underhand motion, the pitcher will first show the baseball to the batter then bring their arm back in an obvious, slow motion
  • The pitcher will gently underhand the ball, aiming at the batter’s front knee
  • The batter takes their normal swing and makes contact with the ball

On a related note, because the person who is throwing soft toss is at that 45-degree angle this drill is also called the “side toss drill”. So don’t worry if you see others interchangeably using the words “soft toss” and “side toss”!

And if players want to do soft toss on their own, they can use something like this Jugs Soft Toss Machine that I love using.

4) Two-ball Soft Toss

The two-ball soft toss drill is a step up from the traditional soft toss drill. This drill is exactly as it sounds – there are two baseballs coming at you instead of one. The good news is that you’ll only need to hit one of them.

The two-ball soft toss drill is when the pitcher tosses two baseballs, one high and one low, in an underhand motion toward the batter’s front knee. The pitcher will call out “high” or “low” and the batter will hit the ball the pitcher calls out.

The two-ball soft toss drill forces batters to focus on the delivered pitch and make contact with the ball they are aiming at.

Items needed for drill:

  • Baseballs
  • Bat
  • Pitcher

To perform the two-ball soft toss drill:

  • The pitcher will start at a 45-degree angle on one knee (exactly like the traditional soft toss setup)
  • The pitcher will take two baseballs and underhand both of the baseballs at the same time. Ideally, there will be a high ball and a low ball while the baseballs are traveling towards the batter.
  • Directly after the pitcher underhands the baseballs, the pitcher will yell out “high” or “low”
  • The batter will hit whichever baseball the pitcher called out

5) Hip to Shoulder Separation Hitting Drill

If you’ve been around a hitting coach for more than a few minutes then you’ve heard them talk about how important hips are in your swing.

Including hips in your swing is an especially important piece of hitting for youth hitters because the earlier you perfect your swing, the better your hitting will be in the long run.

This hip-to-shoulder separation batting drill is fairly straightforward because it will allow you to feel your hips and shoulders being correctly engaged during your swing.

Items needed for drill:

  • Batting Tee
  • Baseballs
  • Two bats

To perform the hip-to-separation hitting drill:

  • Start by placing the ball on the tee at about waist-high
  • Move your front foot toward the outside of the batter’s box, so you are in a very open batting stance
  • Place a bat on the ground so it’s parallel to your feet
  • While in your very open batting stance, swing at the ball

When performing this drill you should feel your hips firing forward while your shoulders are in a much better position to increase launch angle.

Practicing this drill will help youth hitters get the feel down for their hips driving through the ball as well as the feel for a better launch angle in their swing.

6) Sweet Spot Hitting Drill

When making contact with the baseball, the best part of the bat to make contact with is the sweet spot of the bat. When players make contact with the sweet spot of the bat, not only do they hit it further, but they also get a lot of enjoyment from that feeling of hitting the ball perfectly.

The sweet spot hitting drill helps players of all ages focus on making contact with the sweet spot of their bat. This drill requires players to keep some separation in their hands while focusing on where the bat ends up while swinging.

Items needed for drill:

  • Bat
  • Baseballs
  • Batting Tee

To perform the sweet spot hitting drill:

  • Start off with the ball on the tee, roughly waist-high
  • Place your bottom hand where you normally would on the bat
  • Take your top hand and place it more towards the top of the handle, leaving a few inches of space between each hand
  • Take your normal swing while focusing on the barrel of the bat making contact with the ball

You won’t be able to get as much bat speed when your hands are separated this way. But the goal of this drill isn’t bat speed, the goal is to practice hitting the ball on the sweet spot of the bat.

7) Bottom Hand Hitting Drill

When gripping a bat, the top hand is typically the dominant hand. So if you’re a right-handed hitter, then your right hand is your top hand when gripping the bat.

Because most hitters’ top hand is the more dominant hand, youth hitters start to use their dominant hand a lot more during their swing than their non-dominant hand. When this happens, the wrists will roll over during the swing and make it more difficult to make solid contact with the ball.

To fix this rollover issue, the bottom hand hitting drill is a perfect drill for making sure the bottom hand stays engaged for the duration of the swing.

Items needed for drill:

  • Baseballs
  • Bat
  • Batting Tee

To perform the bottom hand hitting drill:

  • Place the ball on the tee at about waist-high
  • Take your normal batting stance, but take the top hand from your batting grip and place it across your chest (leaving only your bottom hand on the bat)
  • Swing away

The bottom-hand hitting drill forces players to use their bottom hand for the entire swing. This drill also builds up strength in that bottom hand so players can maintain their bat speed during their follow-through motion.

BONUS: 3 Youth Hitting Drills for Power

The drills above are all great youth hitting drills, but a lot of the fun drills are related to increasing hitting power. Below are a few examples of youth baseball hitting drills that are safe for hitters and increase hitting power.

1) Put out the Fire

For a visualization of this drill, view this gif from The Hitting Vault.

This drill is a fun drill for youth ballplayers to try. It is all about rotational power so the focus is on the lower half of the body.

Items needed for drill:

  • Bucket of baseballs

To perform the “put out the fire” drill:

  • The player starts off by holding a bucket of baseballs with both hands – one hand supporting the bottom of the bucket and one hand holding the top of the bucket.
  • To “put out the fire” the player will go through their regular hitting mechanics with the lower half of their body, but they will launch all the baseballs from the bucket (this will look similar to someone throwing a bucket of water onto a fire)

Step Backs

The step back drill is great for youth players to get a better feel for the loading phase of their swing.

Items needed for drill:

  • Batting Tee
  • Baseballs
  • Bat

To perform the step back drill:

  • Start off in your normal batting stance
  • To begin your swing, first take a step backwards with your back foot
  • Bring your front knee up and in towards your chest
  • Swing

Soft Toss with Weighted Ball

The soft toss drill is already a great drill for any player, but there can be an additional weight component added to this drill to allow youth hitters to focus on their power.

The only difference between the traditional soft toss and the soft toss with a heavier ball, is just the weight of the ball being used.

Items needed for drill:

  • Baseballs
  • Heavier ball (between 10-20 ounces)
  • Bat
  • Pitcher

To perform the soft toss drill with a heavy ball:

  • Once the batter is warm and ready to swing, the pitcher will start by delivering the soft toss pitch with the heavier ball
  • The batter will only need about 5-10 swings with the heavier ball
  • After using the heavier ball, the pitcher tosses regular baseballs
  • The batter takes another 10-15 swings with regular baseballs

In the example video below, the ball being used was a 17-ounce ball from SKLZ, but normal baseballs weigh roughly 5 ounces and that may be too heavy of a baseball for some youth hitters. I recommend trying something like this 10-ounce or 12-ounce baseball from Amazon.

Photo of author

Steve Nelson

I'm the owner of Baseball Training World. I live in Denver, Colorado and I enjoy playing baseball in an adult baseball team in the surrounding area. Read more about Steve Nelson.

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