Presented by Tom Myers, Camp Director
Nike Baseball Camp San Diego Mesa College
Baseball Tip: 3 Drills to Help Keep You in the Bottom Half of the Zone When Pitching
There is nothing in sports quite like being on the mound. Pitching can give you the best feeling in the entire world, or it could make you feel all alone out on the diamond. Location can often be the difference between being a good pitcher and being a great pitcher. Here are 3 tips that will help train your body to adjust and help you focus on staying in the bottom half of the zone when pitching.
For this drill, no ball or catcher is required. Instead, the pitcher will be holding a small-sized towel in their throwing hand. It’s important for the pitcher to grab the towel in the middle, so it is not too long. Once the pitcher has the towel, they will get on the rubber and count out 6 of their steps, heel-to-toe. This is the line they should aim for when they stride. Next, someone will stand a step or 2 behind the target stride line and hold a hat or glove out in front of them. The pitcher will then do their pitching routine and attempt to hit the object with the towel. The goal of this drill is to push yourself to see how far you can stride, while still staying over your front foot and finishing the pitch. Pitcher may adjust the distance based on their first few attempts.
This drill builds off of the previous drill mentioned. Now, however, instead of a towel the pitcher is using a ball and a catcher. This drill should be done at a shorter distance than the normal distance from the rubber to the plate, and at slightly lower intensity level than a normal bullpen (about 75% intensity). The point of this drill is to force the pitcher to get the ball down into the bottom half of the strike zone. Because the pitcher is on flat ground and not elevated on a mound, they have to actively work on getting the ball down. This is a great drill for any pitcher who struggles keeping the ball low.
This drill encompasses both of the aforementioned drills and is a great drill for preparing yourself for your next outing. Use this drill when throwing your next bullpen off the mound. To get the full benefits of this drill, find two objects you can tie a string to at about knee height (posts, fence, etc.), and stretch it out across both sides of the plate, in front of the catcher. This will signify the bottom of the strike zone. From there, use the skills you have learned in the first two drills to keep the ball low when pitching. The string will not cause any problems for the catcher, but will serve as a visual reminder for the pitcher to live in the lower half of the zone.
Pitching has never been easy, but these three drills can give you the edge you need to be dominant on the bump this next year. For more tips, tricks to help your game, check out more of our Nike Baseball Camps offered this summer!