Command, It’s Not Just for Breakfast Anymore – Part 1

By Coach Flint Wallace, Director of Player Development

(This is Part 1 of a 2-Part Series)


Command is a skill, and like any skill, we know it can be improved with the RIGHT type of training.


So, What is Command?


In my opinion, Control is the ability to throw the baseball in the strike zone. Command is the ability to throw the baseball where you want in the strike zone, and for your misses to be in the direction you are attempting to throw.

  • Example: a fastball low and away- Hit the spot or miss, just low and/or just away, not miss up and/or in.


What Are Bullpens For?

  • Bullpens or sides should not be where a player works on command.
  • Bullpens or sides should be like a quiz, they should be used to see if what you are doing for your command work is paying off.
  • Bullpens or sides should be for executing pitch sequences that you would use in the game.


Every Throw!

Command work should be a part of just about every throw a player makes, but for that to happen, we, as coaches, must create ways for the players to stay engaged throw after throw.

  • The way to achieve peak levels of improvement and to maintain the desire to keep improving is to work on tasks of “Just Manageable Difficulty”.
  • The human brain loves a challenge, but only if it is within an optimal zone of difficulty.
  • We experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are right on the edge of our current abilities.
  • To achieve this optimal zone, we must also measure our immediate progress. Seeing yourself making progress in the actual moment of training or performing of the task is incredibly motivating.
  • Every pitcher needs a notebook to track their daily progress.


Ideas to Enhance Engagement

  • Point Systems for every aspect – Long Toss, Drill Work, Flat Grounds, Bullpens, PFP’s, etc.
  • Charting – have each player chart his own throws.
  • Rankings – post daily. #1 Guy and Most Improved get out of field duty as an incentive each day.
  • Daily Recognition- “Sharp Shooter of the Day”.

Every time a player achieves 75% twice in a row, on the command aspect of the activity, make it a little harder the next time.

  • Move the distance back
  • Decrease the size of the target
  • Add an obstacle or barrier


Add Emotion!

Emotion is the throttle to quicker, faster, and more efficient development of neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the ability for the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections, especially in response to learning, experience, or following injury.


Long Toss Ranch Style

How we teach daily catch/long toss Ranch Style: 

  • Use a screen with a target or pitching pad, or you can use a partner.
  • Between 45 feet-105 feet: must hit the pad 5 times (or your partner) without taking any steps to catch it before you can back up.
  • After 105 feet: must hit the screen 5 times (or your partner) with taking only one step to catch it before you can move back.
  • We start out with our Marshall 1 drill.
  • We do it for the first 3-5 distances.
  • Then we switch to our Walking Torque drill.
  • We do that until we can no longer reach the target in the air or we can’t throw the ball on line (not miss right or left).
  • Then we switch to our Step Behind w/Arm Swing drill or we do our Double Hop drill.
  • We do that until we can no longer reach the target in the air or we can’t throw the ball on line (not miss right or left).
  • We stay at that distance for 5-8 throws.
  • Then we start our pull-down phase.
  • We continue with Step Behinds w/Arm Swings or Double Hops.
  • We throw the ball on a line with minimum arc.
  • We make 1 throw then take a couple more steps forward.
  • We throw with the same intensity (velocity) on each throw on the way back in as we had with the farthest throw of the day. We are just trying to use the expanded intensity all the way into the compressed distance.
  • We stop at about 75 feet and make 3-5 throws from that distance.
  • We have our guys keep track of the total number of throws and the number of times they hit the screen or partner on the way in.
  • Keep track of the percentage.


Wheel Drill

Set Up: