Roll Away - Fence

Fear of the baseball is often one of the biggest obstacles to good hitting. It can lead to "stepping in the bucket", poor balance and "pulling the head" (or pulling off the ball). Although it's normal to have a healthy respect for the baseball, abnormal fear of being hit by the ball can cripple an otherwise good hitter. Any player who has trouble rolling away from a pitch thrown at him (i.e., turning toward the catcher so the ball will hit him on the backside) needs to practice this drill until it becomes natural.

Here's how it goes:

First explain the importance of rolling away from a pitched ball. Ask the players if they would rather be hit in the face, throat, stomach, groin or back. Most will say back, others can take a lap. Demonstrate how to roll away, then proceed with the drill.

Find a fence or backstop the hitter can stand behind. It must be high and wide enough so he cannot be hit with a ball thrown from the other side. The hitter stands behind the fence with a bat. The pitcher stands pitching distance away on the other side of the fence (the fence separates the 2). Place a glove or portable base down (on the batter's side) to act as home plate while making sure to leave enough room for the batter to take a full swing. The pitcher throws to the plate and the batter swings normally (if the pitch is a strike). Of course he won't make contact with the ball because it will be stopped by the fence before it reaches him. Throw a few strikes initially then randomly throw directly at the fence in front of the hitter. Don't let up, let it fly.

Vary the location and be sure to mix it up so the hitter doesn't get into a habit of turning away every time (make sure he continues to swing at strikes). Throw at different parts of the body (including just behind the head) and watch for proper reaction. Repeat this drill until the hitter's natural reaction is to turn away. Good Luck!

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