The absence of in-game reps and on-field competition over the past year has worn on many players – leaving coaches to look for creative ways to keep things fun and competitive in practice settings.
One instructor, John Lampros of Two Five Baseball, a baseball hitting training facility in California, has figured out how to leverage Rapsodo HITTING 2.0 technology and data to help engage hitters at every level.
Keeping Hitters Engaged in Uncertain Times
The professional players who work out at his facility left for Spring Training at what they believed was the end of their offseason training. Three days later, COVID-19 forced them to head back home, where they’ve been ever since.
“For these guys, it’s not a matter of motivation – they’re professional athletes, of course they’re motivated – but it’s more about how to keep things engaging and fun to ease the stress and uncertainty,” Lampros said.
He faces similar challenges with the high school players he trains. After most of his players lost their 2020 season, some opted to leave the state in order to play in games where available, leaving those who chose to stay at risk of serious cage fatigue without the game reps to validate their hard work.
Tips for Making Baseball Hitting Practice More Competitive
There are a few things instructors and coaches can do to raise the level of competition in their facilities and battle back against (tired of this word yet?) unprecedented cage fatigue. These tips will help validate the work “cage stuck” kids are putting in, whether or not players are participating in real baseball games.
Give Players Live At-Bats
Like many coaches, Lampros is a big fan of training his hitters on exit velocity and tailoring their batting attack plans to better prepare them for game situations. One of the things he focuses on when training players who are unsure of when their next game at-bat will be is creating the closest thing to it: Live batting practice.
“We’re trying to shift our focus out of individual instruction and think about how we can give these guys a game-like setting,” Lampros said. “We’re thinking about what pitchers we can bring in to do live at-bats, and what scenarios we can set up where they get some real competition.”
Find Average Exit Velocity by Age
In order to raise exit velocity, hitters will have to set aside game-like situations and focus on drills or front toss training in a cage. This isn’t always as fun as live batting practice, but one way players can stay focused and set goals is by finding out their average exit velocity for their age group. Rapsodo created the ultimate Baseball Hitting Averages by Age Guide for this reason. We collected data from thousands of our users to get average distance, exit velocity, launch angle and spin rate for ages 10-pro. Hitters can use this guide to see where they are at for their age group, and have a goal to focus on when doing cage drills.
Make a Leaderboard
Competition between hitter and pitcher is the fundamental game-within-the-game, but competition between hitters at a baseball training facility creates a lot of positive energy, and fun!
“We have an Exit Velo leaderboard posted and it’s the first thing the guys look at when they show up each day,” Lampros said. “They want to see where they rank and who they need to catch.”
Lampros even admits he sometimes gets in the cage himself at the end of the day to set a higher exit velocity goal to make sure his players always have a number to chase.
Utilize Game Mode
One thing we have always believed in at Rapsodo is that player development can (and should) be fun! While it’s difficult to recreate a true game atmosphere inside a net, its still possible to have that level of competition when in the batting cage.
That’s why we’re introducing Game Mode for Rapsodo HITTING 2.0. This add-on option will give players and coaches the opportunity to have data-driven competitions in the cage. Game Mode will have features like a Home Run Derby that will provide actual hit outcomes alongside each player’s metrics. Compete against a friend one-on-one, your team, or another facility with Rapsodo Game Mode!
To listen to our full conversation with John Lampros and learn more about Game Mode, check out the latest episode of the Rapsodo Baseball Podcast.