Softball Hitting: Pepper Game

Help Batters Develop Control and Swing Speed With This Hitting Drill

Batting requires good attention to detail, control, accuracy, power and speed. It also requires being able to maintain the velocity, angle and degree of a bat swing. While it’s essential to reinforce good outfield and pitching practices, it’s just as important to ensure your team has the same level of skill at the plate, where bat connects with ball. This drill helps batters come to grips (pun intended) with bat control and swing speed.


A Look at the Drill

The pepper game is better suited to use on the actual field than it is for anywhere else. It requires a good deal of empty space, as well as four players. You’ll need three players positioned roughly two feet apart. Next, you need a batter. She should stand about 20-22 feet away from the outfielders. The pepper game combines hitting with fielding and throwing, and will involve all four players.

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The game begins with the hitter. She should hit the ball toward one of the fielders, using a sharp, downward stroke of the bat. The goal is to make the ball hope one to two times while rolling toward the fielder. The fielder should quickly recover the ball and immediately toss a 1/2 to 3/4-speed pitch back to the batter, who will hit the ball back in the direction of the pitch (sending it back to the fielder once more). The goal here is to keep the batter hitting rapidly, forcing her to use control and short swings of the bat.

To set up the rotation to ensure that all the fielders are engaged and able to return the ball to the batter in good time, follow these steps.

  • For a right-handed batter, start by hitting the inside pitch to the fielder at the far left.
  • The middle pitch should be hit toward the fielder in the middle (directly across from the batter).
  • The outside pitch should be hit toward the fielder on the right.
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Run through drill once or twice (a complete rotation through the fielders), and then rotate the fielder on the left into the batting position. Rotate the other fielders forward, and put the batter in the far right fielder position.

Change Things Up

The drill as outlined above will certainly keep your hitter busy, but you can change things up to really keep her on her toes. Instead of just one ball, add two to the mix. This ensures that one fielder is always pitching and requires that the batter continuously hit, while maintaining the control necessary to send the ball to the appropriate fielder.

Run through the drill as before, letting each fielder have a turn or two at bat.

Tips and Tricks

While the pepper game does require several people and a good bit of space, it can be modified to fit other situations and needs. While it cannot be modified to suit a solo batter (without the addition of a tee, which eliminates part of the benefits associated with control), it can be modified for use with just two people so long as there is sufficient space.

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You’ll need a batter and a pitcher. Essentially, both will go through the steps listed initially for the first fielder and batter. Run through the drill three to four times and then change positions. Make sure there’s plenty of space around for pitching and swinging the bat. Also, understand the modified version of this drill does not provide the same training and conditioning as the full drill does, and should be used in conjunction with the standard game, rather than in lieu of it.

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