Best Training Aids for Baseball & Softball to Hone your Skills

- January 27, 2021

A lot goes into becoming a better hitter, much of which depends on getting the right coaching & instruction. Another crucial but oft-overlooked factor is using the right training equipment. While these tools won’t instantly propel you to stardom, they will help you hone your technique. With repeated use, these best training aids will push you to the next level.

Because there are many baseball and softball training aids geared towards making you a better hitter, I’m going to highlight the best training aids for baseball & softball (some of which cost less than $50!). Read on!

Hitting Training Aids

Form, strength, and muscle memory are the elements of a great baseball swing. Below are the very best training bats for baseball and softball players alike. These bats teach proper grip and swing mechanics across all ages and skill levels. As a result, players can build the muscle memory needed to hit the ball harder and further every single time. 

SwingAway

The SwingAway MVP hitting trainer helps players build bat speed, hand speed, power, and confidence with repeated use. Specifically, it allows players to stay inside and to the ball and gets rid of long casting & other poor swing mechanics. 

A ball attaches to bungees and can be placed anywhere in the strike zone. Once the hitter swings, the ball bounces back off the net, and players can see where it would’ve gone on the field. It’s a great training aid for use at home in the basement, garage, or deck since balls stay attached – so no need to have a bucket of balls or tee up again after every swing.

I did feel that the SwingAway MVP hitting trainer took a little too long to set up – it took close to an hour. It would also be nice if this $200 baseball/softball training aid came with at least one spare ball set. However, it seems like a great hitting trainer for youth baseball leagues and is much better than a batting tee that would need you to replace the ball over and over again.

Rapsodo

Accurate metrics are invaluable for both batters or pitchers looking to improve their game. Players need to track these metrics over time and make critical adjustments. The Rapsodo is a top-of-the-line hitting aid, widely used in the MLB, the MiLB, and plenty of the top collegiate programs. It measures critical hitting and pitching statistics, lets you analyze pitches from the side view, top view, pitcher, or catcher views, and provides progress tracking with historical and statistical analysis. 

The key to successfully using the Rapsodo is interpreting the data & making the necessary adjustments to improve your game. Data processing happens about 7 seconds after contact, with a green/red light at the front of the camera letting you know when done. 

At its price, however, it may be impractical & too expensive for individuals to buy. Still, it may be a worthwhile investment for players looking to eke out any sort of advantage over their competition to improve their game. 

Bat Weights

Connecting with the ball and sending it over the fence after the pitcher throws a 95-mph fastball is a skill that requires speed and strength.

A bat weight, or a bat doughnut, is a fantastic training aid. This weighted ring or weighted sleeve fits over the end of a baseball bat and helps players increase their swing speed or warm-up before a game by adding swing resistance.

Bat weights condition you to heavier swing loads so that when it’s time for the weights to come off, the bat feels lighter. You’re then able to swing faster at the plate, and you can let the ball fly.

Check out our bat weight recommendations below:

Easton Speed Bat Weight, 

Champro

Pow’r Wrap bat weight.

SwingRail

Whether the baseball season is on, or you’re honing your technique during the off-season, you need this nifty little tool in your arsenal. This swing trainer and batting aid works to rectify the common pitfalls that keep you from being great. 

The SwingRail fixes the common pitfalls that hold you back, e.g., the more you use it, the more you learn to stay inside the ball while making sure your hands take a good path to the ball, thus creating backspin.

One end of the SwingRails straps above your bat’s handle on one end, and the other end straps to your bicep towards your shoulder. When swung with proper swing mechanics applied, its elastic band slides smoothly off of the rail. If not, the velcro connection pops off, which indicates that you’re casting out.

Quick set up, ease of use once you get the hang of it, and the instant feedback is what I loved about it.

Line Drive Pro

Speed and power are essential for any player, but control over the ball’s direction is what matters most. The Line Drive Pro Swing Trainer is a hitting aid that builds the muscle memory necessary to teach hitters the proper swing mechanics by giving instant feedback on good and bad swings.

The Line Drive Pro is excellent for players who are still trying to find themselves. It comes with 3 regulation-sized tennis balls. Velcro straps attach the Line Drive Pro to your bat, and when the hitter swings correctly, the ball should launch straight ahead.

If the tennis ball shoots to the left, that’s an indicator that your barrel isn’t staying through the hitting zone long enough.

Swing Analyzers

Swing Analyzer is a cutting edge gizmo that will delight your inner baseball nerd. It helps build swing speed to better your angles of impact, swing plane, and hitting zones. 

There are many swing analyzers in the market, including the Zepp 3D Baseball Swing Analyzer, Garmin Impact Baseball Sensor, Diamond Swing Tracker, the Blast Baseball 360, to name a few.

This tiny device attaches to the end of your bat and helps document your practice and highlight the areas that could use more training.

The Zepp 3D Swing Analyzer, for instance, is connected through Bluetooth to a mobile app that allows you to see a bunch of stats ranging from bat speed and hand speed, including letting you replay video footage from any angle.

Insider Bats

Despite its odd/unique design, the Insider bat is a muscle memory training tool that instills proper hitting mechanics such as adequate hip rotation, good grip, proper hand placement, and swing path before, during, and after hitting the ball.

It provides immediate feedback and keeps players from casting out. The bat’s unique designs make for a fundamentally correct swing every single time. Anything other than that, and the swing will miss the ball entirely or barely hit it, leaving you no choice but to improve.

Weighted Bats

Hitting a baseball seems deceptively simple at first. The mechanics around hitting a round ball with a rounded bat and making solid, square contact when the ball travels at 70+ mph are quite daunting. But more practice makes this seemingly impossible task increasingly easier. 

A different weighted bat forces hitters to adapt. Like weighted balls, weighted bats have been growing steadily in popularity. They’re popular in training facilities, at the high school & collegiate level, and even in the pro leagues. These bats are skinny but weighty and are used to hit plastic Wiffle balls. 

Weighted bats build hand-eye coordination, teaching hitters to trackball flight. Hitters get better at squaring up a small Wiffle ball with a thinner, heavier bat. Over time, weighted bat training increases swing power, bat speed, exit velocity, and hand-eye coordination.

The three stand out options in the market are the Rawlings HVYSTK Heavy-Stik Training Bat, the SKLZ Power Stick Training Bat, and the Louisville Slugger Weighted Training Bat.

One-handed Training Bats

One-handed bats are one of the best training aids on the market today for hitters. They’re short (measuring about 20 to 25 inches). Their handles are similar to regulation bat handles so that your hands adjust to the size of a real bat. Because they are short and lightweight, you can swing them with one hand (hence the name) for soft-toss or tee drills.

You can work one arm at a time, focusing on building strength, hand speed, and developing proper mechanics. Specifically, a shorter swing path means you get to stay inside the ball when hitting, reinforcing proper technique. Additionally, due to their small size, accuracy improves too.

The Rawlings one-handed bat is an excellent pick for its quality aAnd affordability.

Batting Goggles

One of the most important things to learn is how to focus and keep your eye on the ball. These goggles work by reducing your field of vision to help improve focus and reaction time by eliminating visual distractions and instead redirecting that focus towards oncoming balls.

Batters track the ball through contact, while fielders keep their heads down before they look up and make a throw, minimizing fielding errors. An adjustable head strap makes for a one-size-fits-all fitting, and the soft plastic makes them suitable for wearing even for extended training sessions.

Hitting Wedges

Have you ever come across the term “squash the bug”? If not, allow me to explain. This phrase has been around for some time and refers to pivoting/spinning on the ball of the back foot when swinging the bat, as one would when squishing a bug.

Coaches have taught it to fix beginner hitting flaws such as not turning their hips all the way. Unfortunately, squishing/squashing the bug presents its gotchas and may do more harm than good when teaching hitters the correct mechanics.

The PowerUp Wedge presents a better way. It teaches players how to engage their lower half properly and transfer more energy from their backside to the ball and through the ball when hitting or throwing. 

It is made out of rubber and goes on a hitter’s back foot, secured by a one-size-fits-all velcro strap. It’s simple to wear – strap it to your foot, and done. Its one-size-fits-all velcro strap makes it well suited for use by young players and adults by adjusting the strap. 

The rigid rubber and sturdy velcro strap both hold up exceptionally well to repeated use and abuse. Again, for the price, the durability is hard to beat.

It does take some getting used to but feels more natural with repeated use. It also takes some work to keep in place, so you’ll find yourself needing to adjust it now and then. 

I loved its utility, versatility, and price, given its good for hitting, throwing, and fielding practice for all ages and skill levels. Its small size also means you can easily fit in your bag and take it with you anywhere. It is excellent for hitters looking to take their game to the next level.

HIT Trainer

The HIT trainer (Short for Hands Inside Trainer) is another inexpensive training aid that promotes muscle memory by teaching hitters to stay inside the ball, keeping their hands in the zone.

It’s a simple and effective tool that works with most batting tees to indicate when casting occurs, leaving you no choice but to hit correctly. A proper swing hits the ball off the tee. If you do cast your hands out, you’ll make contact with the HIT, immediately showing the incorrect swing path.

Louisville Slugger Ultra-Instructoswing Tee

The Louisville Slugger Instructo Swing is a fantastic training aid for all ages and skill levels, and is suitable for use in the MLB, MiLB, collegiate, and high school leagues, all the way down to the little league.

It offers a unique twist on the traditional batting tee. It emphasizes proper mechanics during the swing to prevent casting, chopping, or uppercutting. The Instructor Swing is adjustable to allow for varying ball locations and angles. This adjustability teaches players to swing level, swing up, swing down, hit low (hardest to hit), hit inside, middle, high pitches, and outside pitches. The bars teach good habits such as proper eye position when swinging – on improper swings, the bars provide instant feedback.

It works similar to the more affordable HIT (Hands Inside Trainer) tee attachment, but the HIT works as an add-on to an existing batting tee. The Louisville Slugger Instructoswing works as an entire tee.

Overall, the Instructoswing seems perfect for players to want to become switch hitters since it’s suitable for both right or left-handed batters, emphasizes proper mechanics, and teaches players to hit many pitches to all fields.

The Backspin Tee

Your run-of-the-mill batting tee shows you the top of the ball, and that’s what you invariably end up hitting, which is what pitchers love. They love it because hitting the ball on the top half often leads to groundouts.

On the other hand, the Backspin Tee hangs the baseball in the air, which trains hitters to hit the middle and bottom of the baseball. Hitting this way creates the backspin and proper launch angle needed to hit the ball farther. The Backspin Tee trains hitters to stay on path with the ball, meaning they square-up more often and consistently.

SKLZ Hurricane Category 4 Swing Trainer

The SKLZ Hurricane Category 4 Swing Trainer is an all-in-one swing trainer designed for baseball or softball swing training. It comes with a high visibility target for players to aim at. Batters focus on solid contact to generate bat speed and improve power. 

The Hurricane 4 sets up quickly and requires no additional tools. It has an adjustable height that lets players of varying skill hit both high pitches or low pitches. It has 4 elastic resistance bands that increase or decrease tension, which teaches batters to drive through the pitch fully.

I love that it doesn’t require a bucket of balls or a net and that it does help improve hand-eye coordination, strength, and hitting speed. However, it seems better suited for youth baseball practice with less experienced hitters, as it doesn’t hold up well to abuse. The high visibility target may break, and finding a replacement, if at all, is difficult.

Pitching Machines

Whether you need to hit a 95-mph fastball or a 60-mph curveball, pitching machines develop muscle memory and hand-eye coordination. There are several different options available, from simple soft-toss pitching machines or a pitching machine that throws variable speeds and pitches. Some machines are ideal for indoor use, while some are perfect for use outdoors or in batting cages.

Pitching machines can be quite pricey so ensure you pick something built to last for years. Check out our article on the best pitching machines for more.

Fielding & Catching Training Aids

A huge part of baseball & softball is fielding and catching. Below is a selection of the best fielding and catching aids.

Reaction Balls

Reaction balls are a fun and unique fielding aid designed to improve alertness, hand-eye coordination, reaction time, and agility. Their high-bounce rubber construction and six-sided shape cause the ball to bounce randomly. They mimic bad/unpredictable hops, which sharpens depth perception, creates quick hands, and are a great way to ensure infielders stay on their toes at all times. 

Their versatility doesn’t limit their use to only baseball & softball – they’re useful in a myriad of sports such as football, soccer, or hockey. Use solo by throwing them against hard surfaces like walls or creating drills with a partner’s help. It’s a sure way to make training fun and effective.

Two-Hands Foam Fielding Trainer

This Rawlings fielding trainer is an excellent way for players to learn proper fielding techniques when encountering ground balls. 

It suits players of all ages, and its design is crucial for teaching players about the importance of keeping their bodies low and in front of the ball when fielding a grounder. It also improves the speed and ball-to-glove transfers smoothness. We loved that it was inexpensive, lightweight, fit both hands, and that it fits pretty snug so it won’t fall off. 

Its super lightweight foam materials are also its biggest drawback, however. It won’t allow you to “stab” at the ball as you would with a regular fielder’s glove, and it doesn’t work for line drives or fly balls.

Flat Gloves

This “Pancake” style glove is a fantastic infield training aid. While it costs more than its foam counterpart, we loved the build quality, especially for the price. It’s exactly like an actual infield glove, only that it is small and flat, hence the pancake glove moniker. 

It’s excellent for infield training in that it helps players practice funneling and develop a quick “glove to throw” transition. What’s more, it isn’t suited just for the professionals – it’s great for anyone looking to improve their fielding ability.

We like that they’re stiffer and more durable than foam gloves are. The leather will keep your hands safe from the hard throws where foam gloves would struggle. These are hand specific, though, so ensure you pick the glove for the right hand.

Libke Pro Wrist Correction

Proper glove presentation amongst infielders from the youth level to high school is a big issue. Infielders will often field grounders while angling their wrists. Even if a fielder successfully catches the ground ball, a curled wrist is a fumble waiting to happen – a frustrating mishap in a high stakes game.

The Libke Pro is an infield training tool that you wear on your fielding hand. It forces your hand into the proper glove presentation (eliminates bent wrist). It also forces your palm out of your glove, making it harder to close all the way. That way, the glove-to-throw transition is a quick one.

It attaches to your glove via a velcro strap and again to your forearm via an elastic velcro strap. You get the muscle memory needed to position your wrist and hand for better glove presentation. It also keeps you in the right fielding posture for more catches and quicker plays.

Take a look at the Libke Pro Fielder in action: Libke Pro – Learn how to field as the pro’s do! – YouTube

Best Pitching Training Aids

Pitching aids will improve pitching mechanics, including speed, accuracy, and strength. The training aids we cover are fantastic for developing and correcting the techniques that pitchers need to ensure they generate great results without injuring themselves over time. Our selection includes versatile, affordable, and effective equipment. Read on!

Weighted Training Balls

Weighted baseballs are a great hitting aid and have fittingly gained popularity from the amateur to professional leagues. They weigh between 4 to 15 ounces and teach hitters proper contact, follow-through, and hip rotation. Lighter balls build faster arm speed, while heavier ones build arm strength and improve pitch speed. 

For hitters, weighted balls work great for players who have trouble finishing their swing. They emphasize extension, getting your hands through the zone, and follow-through. 

Pitchers get to build arm strength and pitch speed, which ultimately makes for stronger wrists and forearms. 

Note: Weighted training balls are best suited for pitchers that have locked down proper mechanics since younger players are more susceptible to injury. Many companies make weighted baseballs, including Bownet, PRIMED, TCB (Total Control Ball), and Powernet, among others.

Strike Zone Plate

The Schutt Strike Zone Plate is a great training aid for pitchers and catchers of all ages learning to “work the edges.” Its high visibility and refined color layout make it ideal for pitchers looking to target its corners.

For a pitcher, the three different colors represent where the ball should or shouldn’t be thrown. Always avoid the red area that runs down the middle of the plate. Hitters will send pitches thrown here flying – exactly what hitters want. The yellow sections aren’t as obvious, and so hitters will need to adjust to the pitch but not as much as they would need to on the green areas or off the plate. If a pitcher aims for the corners or off the plate, chances of a ground out, flyout, or strikeout are higher than if they aim for the red & yellow sections.

Catchers, on the other hand, can learn where to set up and where not to. Because the catcher’s goal is to make that pitcher look good, the catcher knows to set up somewhere other than down the middle; else, the pitcher seems like an idiot. 

For umpires, the Strike Zone Home Plate is excellent for teaching where the strike zone extends to.

It can be used by itself or can sit atop a regular home plate. Its lightweight design makes it easy to transport or store away, and its durable rubber construction holds up impressively through repeated training sessions.

Designated Hitter Pro

Standing at 5’9″ tall, the Designated Hitter Pro is another excellent baseball and softball training aid. This pitching dummy gives a visual representation of all of the hitter’s key landmarks, providing a complete image of the strike zone. For instance, it has an orange string attached to the elbow, which lets pitchers visualize the inside half of the plate to hit the inside corner. Pitchers can have more realistic live pitching sessions without needing a real-life batter. 

Consequently, practice sessions are safer, effective, and more efficient. Its sturdy construction gives it a weighted base that keeps it from toppling over, and its durable materials keep it from breaking in the face of fastballs. Its beveled edges minimize pitch deflection, which enhances catcher safety. 

With the Designated Hitter, pitchers build consistency and accuracy. One to consider. 

Shoulder Tube

TAP™ Shoulder Tube (youtube.com)

The Shoulder Tube is a fantastic tool to help players to condition the throwing shoulder. The shoulder tube’s oscillation works to stretch and shorten specific muscle groups depending on the flexed direction. 

In turn, it improves shoulder flexibility, builds arm and shoulder strength, and Increases blood flow. Although the Shoulder Tube was designed with the pitcher in mind, it works well for all overhead throwing athletes. 

Bushnell Velocity Speed Gun

Tracking pitch speed in baseball has become a key stat in baseball. As a pitcher, knowing your pitch speed lets you see how your fastball measures up. These stats are invaluable for scouts. On the other hand, as a coach or scout, readings from the same radar gun help you gauge each pitcher’s ability.

The Bushnell Velocity is an easy-to-use, point-and-shoot radar gun that measures an object’s speed, give or take about 1 mph. It has digital signal processing technology that tracks ball speed up to 90 feet away. It’s relatively easy to use – once you aim and pull the trigger, the speed shows up on its large LCD screen.

Training Aids for Core Speed, Strength, Agility & Recovery

During baseball season, batting, pitching, and fielding practice sessions may take precedence over speed and agility work. However, almost every movement in baseball combines both lateral and rotational motion. Athletes must train to build their speed, agility, and core strength to elevate their game to the next level.

Exercises that improve base running speed build player core and leg strength for increased pitching speed or strengthen shoulders to prevent injury are vital. Here are our top picks for strength & agility training aids.

TRX Suspension Training

TRX suspension training bands are vital training aids that use your body weight for workouts. They’ve become massively popular in gyms, and it isn’t hard to see why. They’re an incredibly effective way to build strength, flexibility, core stability, and balance simultaneously. And portable too!

TRX suspension training leverages body weight and gravity to get a workout in. You can modify how challenging each exercise is by adjusting your body position to increase or decrease resistance.

Lateral Resistor/Thera-Band

One, two, streeeeeetch! Anyone, regardless of fitness level, will love using resistance bands. They’ll be a fantastic addition to your strength training routine or rehabilitation program. You can get them in a variety of sizes, resistance levels, and lengths.

We love them because they’re portable, which makes them perfect for home use or on the go, and that they’re challenging, but don’t pressure your joints as dumbbells and kettlebells do. They’re also a great way to reach those smaller stabilizing muscle groups like the gluteus medius you’d typically miss.

Medicine Ball

Incorporating medicine ball exercises into your baseball workout helps develop hitting and throwing power. The rotational force built through med ball conditioning drills is fundamental to the mechanics of pitching and hitting.

Med ball exercises will help increase player core strength and coordination since they mimic the movements used by baseball players as they hit, pitch, or throw. And because rotary motion starts in the lower body, medicine ball exercises transfer your legs’ energy to your upper extremities. This whip action translates well on the field, and players can throw harder or swing faster as a result.

Med balls are quite popular in sports performance programs too. For beginners, though, don’t just grab the heaviest ball. The likelihood of faulty mechanics goes up the heavier the ball is, so start with a lighter ball. 

Sports Cones

Sports cones are popular and effective training aids. They’ve become quite popular amongst athletes and have gotten great reviews for the skills they develop.

With cone drills, players benefit from increased lateral quickness, as well as better agility and speed. Players can practice fast feet and honed reflexes to help them make the quick direction changes required on the field. Sports cones can be paired with resistance bands to develop footwork plus physical and mental agility further. 

Agility Ladder and Mini Hurdles

Agility ladder or mini hurdle drills are a type of high-intensity interval training. These training aids improve speed, agility, and quickness in addition to strengthening joints, tendons, and ligaments. They get your heart rate up, train footspeed, coordination, rhythm, and speed. 

Incorporating these sorts of workouts will help players practice explosive speed and agility without the risk of injury.

Foam Roller

As you work to improve your technique, you’ll invariably develop tight muscles and knots. Foam rollers help relieve muscle tightness, inflammation, soreness and increase the range of motion in your joints, which helps ward off injury.

It provides a large surface area for players to work large muscle groups such as the back, quads, calves, and hamstring. It is a great tool to add to your warm-up or cooldown before and after exercise, even if only a few days a week.

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