Dummy Batter Drill
Pitching is an art that combines mechanics with speed, aim, and accuracy. Every type of pitch takes its own practice to master. The Dummy Batter Drill gives pitchers the ability to practice different pitches without risking hurting a batter with a rogue pitch when mastering a new pitch type. It also allows a pitcher to experience different batting techniques while eliminating this same risk. This drill is best for a pitcher who has already mastered the mechanics of pitching but is looking to improve their aim, accuracy, or try out a new pitch.
A Look At The Drill
The dummy batter drill involves placing a cardboard or wood cutout of a batter standing in their batting stance over the plate. The dummy batter should have a line descending in front of them that marks the perfect strike line. This should be made of wood or sturdy cardboard-something that will not move around if there is wind on the field. Having the visual line to denote a perfect strike will help a pitcher perfect their aim.
This is especially good for trying out new types of pitches. Especially for newer pitchers, the chances of hitting a batter while trying out a new pitch or working extensively on perfecting aim are relatively high. Having a dummy available eliminates this possibility. It also ensures that you don’t need to have players on hand to bat while you are having pitching practice. You can have other pitchers holding batting practice at the same time as teaching a pitcher a new throw or have others practice fielding while you work with your pitcher.
The dummy provides a consistency at first, which a real batter will not When trying pitches for the first time, pitchers may need that strike area to stay consistent in order to perfect the arm motion necessary to perform it. Once this is down, having a real batter, or variable dummies, may become more beneficial to perfecting the pitch in all situations. This is another reason that the dummy is best for newer pitchers or pitchers trying out newer pitches.
The dummy batter drill also gives newer pitchers the feeling of throwing at a real batter, which they don’t get with a lot of other strike-zone perfecting set-ups. Having a real person at bat to visualize a strike zone for is far different than throwing at a wooden box or a net or any number of other fake strike-zone types of equipment. This dummy allows you to give your pitcher exposure to this sensation without risking having a batter hit.
The dummy also allows a pitcher to visualize a perfect strike for batters that are standing different distances from the plate. Move the strike line accordingly, letting them see exactly where the ball should be falling in any situation.
Tips and Tricks
If you have the resources to prepare different sized dummies, this will allow your pitcher to try their new pitches on various sized players. Obviously the size and location of a perfect strike is going to vary based on the height and stance of a batter, and this allows a pitcher to prepare for that variation first-hand without requiring the use of an actual batter.
Once a pitcher has a new pitch down using the dummy, have them alternate pitches as they would in a game. This allows them to experiment with switching between throws while still not having to worry about a live batter yet.
If a pitcher has mastered finding the perfect-strike line, try making it less visible. Maybe try using a white perfect strike indicator and having the pitcher throw towards a white backdrop. This will give them the auditory indicator when they have hit the perfect strike marker but get them used to throwing at a strike zone that isn’t outlined for them.