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!
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 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.
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.
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.