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Front toss an effective training tool

Ken Krause

May 7, 2008
Mundelein, IL
Ok, that may not seem like a big revelation at first. But there's more to it. Bear with me.

During the off-season, we worked with our hitters in small groups in the batting cage. We worked a lot off the tee to build swing mechanics and try to correct major problems. Then we would finish with front toss, using real balls. The distance was roughly 8-12 feet. I would throw using a windmill motion, then duck behind a protective screen as fast as I could. Mostly I got behind it, although Jessica nailed me in the shin once and it still hurts when I kneel down. But I digress.

Anyway, as the HS season started, most of our girls did pretty well. But the further they got away from it, the less effective they became as hitters. When we finally got them back for the summer we again used front toss as a main form of hitting practice and the hitting went up. We haven't done it much lately and noticed a drop, so last Thursday it was back to the batting cage for some front toss.

It may have been coincidence, but this weekend we hit .300+ as a team en route to a tournament championship, with lots of doubles and even a few triples on fields with a 200 foot fence. No one went yard, but several came close. Two of the opposing coaches commented on how well our team hit. Not so much because our first five hitters did it, but because we did it all the way through the lineup.

There are a lot of factors involved, of course. But it seemed like that front toss practice, time consuming as it was, made a huge difference for us. I'd highly recommend it to get the timing, and the feeling of hitting real balls. And if you're quick enough, you can even correct some major flaws as you duck behind the screen!

May 25, 2008
Pickerington Ohio
Ken, I like this drill and use it with my players but to save my shin and everything else I use whiffle balls to pitch to them. I set up 15 feet away and use a full windmill motion. The speed from the whiffle is slower but the reaction time is the same plus it is easier to put the whiffle where you want at a shorter distance.
Jun 2, 2008
Ken -

I reluctantly took over a 14U team in Aug that was completely dismantled by a previous coach. He took the "talented" girls with him to another organization and left about 6 girls without a home, including my daughter (12U). He was also the team hitting "expert", except the team didn't hit very well. We never had a ball hit over the fence, in a game or practice. Left with a broken team, I had to first find players in an area where there really isn't much talent, and rebuild a team.

Looking for help, I found your post. Knowing we were weak hitters, I took this info on board and put it to use. The first tournament didn't go so well, but we had a few hits. I worked the front toss hard and often - not worrying so much about defense as I knew that was always a work in progress. Our pitching was good as we picked up 2 excellent pitchers from another organization that folded. I continued to work the front toss, along with tee work, 3 times a week. I made sure the girls swang often and alot.

I set my front toss net up about 10ft in front of the plate, move the ball around, and change speeds often. I work in and out, and keep the hitters guessing.

I now have a team that batters 2-6 are legit home run threats, with 2 others potential surprises. They couldn't even one-hop the fence before this. All of the girls are base hit threats - I am 100% convinced that the front toss drill is the key. Two weeks ago, I had 7 of 10 girls at practice hit balls over the fence, totalling 16 long balls! Unbelievable. Last weekend, we batted nearly 300 for the weekend, with 2 HRs and 2 triples.

As a side benefit, I have the girls work defense while I'm front tossing and our defense has significantly improved. After fielding some hot hit front tosses, game situations don't seem so bad to them. Confidence is over the top. This weekend is the state tournament, so we'll see how it goes.

May 12, 2008
Outstanding story. Way to go and congratulations on picking up the pitchers. If you have pitching and desire lots of things are possible.

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