Previously we shared that Tennis Balls are one of our favorite training tools. We literally use them all the time. In this post we wanted to share one way that we use tennis balls in our training.
First off, we are big believers in the value of barehand training. Your glove is simply an extension of your hand. If there are bad habits with your glove, then the root cause of those bad habits are your hand.
As coaches we have seen barehand training with tennis balls make a significant difference in the catchers we train. On top of that, all of us as Catcher University staff used tennis balls as players in our own development throughout our careers. We have seen and experienced the effectiveness of barehand training both as players and as coaches.
Here are three big reasons why we use Barehand Tennis Ball receiving drills all the time:
1. Trains Hand-Eye Coordination
At the risk of stating the obvious, when you take your glove off you have a much smaller object to catch the ball with. Elite catchers have elite hand-eye coordination, and barehand receiving helps train the hand-eye coordination needed for catchers to receive well.
2. Emphasizes Proper Hand-Actions
As we alluded to above, barehand receiving training emphasizes proper hand-actions because it prevents the glove from hiding bad habits. Many catchers can get away with bad habits and get the job done anyway because of their glove. Bad habits always catch up to you, though, especially at the higher levels of baseball. We love barehand tennis ball receiving training because we can identify those bad habits and address them accordingly.
3. Forces a Soft-Hand
You cannot catch a tennis ball consistently if your hand is too stiff or hard. The tennis ball will bounce off your hand before you are able to squeeze it. Tennis balls also allow the coach/drill partner to toss the ball much more firmly than a baseball without risk of injury. A firm toss adds a reaction time element to the training, and it also multiplies the importance of being soft enough to catch the ball before it bounces out of the hand. Catchers must have a soft-hand to be an elite receiver, and this is arguably the best method we know to train a soft-hand.
In sum, barehand training is vital to your receiving training. Tennis balls are an awesome training tool and are perfect for your barehand receiving drills. If you aren’t using tennis balls and barehand drills as part of your receiving training you are missing out on an extremely effective way to practice.
FREE Daily Drill Series Practice Plan
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Each drill includes a full explanation for the purpose, setup, execution and includes a full demo video.
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