What Baseball refers to as a player being a “Five Tool Player” is nearly an extinct aberration. In today’s Baseball world of specialization, the idea of an athlete being capable of performing all five keys of a ball player, minus the pitching position, at a Star level, has all but been forgotten or given up on. I personally do not agree with the experts and believe a “Five Tool Player” can exist.
Let’s briefly look at the Five Keys and arrive at least upon one drill to enhance that Skill.
Arm Strength: The ability to throw a baseball with high velocity, accuracy and distance is one of the primary skills a scout will look for in a prospect. This is particularly important for the positions of right field, center field, third base and shortstop, but has an impact regardless of position.
One drill which will increase arm strength is the Long Toss which essentially is what it says, throwing the baseball greater and greater distances as the arm strength increases. The key to long toss is to have a goal in mind of distance you want to achieve, then slowly build up to that distance.
For instance, your goal is to throw from right field to third base on one hop. You begin by throwing from right field to second base, increasing velocity and accuracy, then proceed to throwing to the shortstop position, then on to third base. This building block method provides you with a method to track your progress, and will help hold you back from throwing too hard too fast, thusly injuring the arm.
Fielding: Theoretically, a normal ground ball is harder to catch than a normal fly ball for two reasons, because of the low position the body must be in in order to field the ball and the unknown and unexpected variables of field conditions which could affect the travel of the baseball. In other words, bad hops.
One drill which would greatly improve your ground ball fielding skills is the Knee Drill. You can perform this drill by yourself, which is a great asset, with the use of a rubber or tennis ball and a flat wall to bounce the ball off of.
Position yourself on your knees, with or without your glove, I suggest using the glove making it a natural part of the hand, and bounce the ball against the wall. By eliminating the use of the legs, moving to the ball, you concentrate solely on eye to hand to ball coordination. This greatly increases the ability to develop soft and quick hands, a fielding must.
Hitting For Power: The ability to tie or win a ball game with one swing of the bat is another tool of a Five Tool player, the Home Run. For whatever reason, baseball has evolved to the point that scouts expect certain positions to be played by power hitters. A right fielder for example, will have a hard time attracting attention without a power bat.
The Tire Drill is a simple method to increase the power of your swing. Simply hang a tire, minus the wheel, from a trim limb or other suitable support at the proper level.
Using a proper batting stance and swing, strike the tire as hard as possible. Initially your swing will quickly and abruptly stop at hitting such a heavy object, but as your power increases and you learn to not only hit the tire, but hit through the tire, the tire will move and your bat will continue through the zone.
Hitting For Average: Hitting for a higher average than a normal power hitter, can be greatly enhanced and achieved with a mental attitude adjustment.
Being a power hitter, unless the situation demands a home run attempt, once a hitter has Two Strikes he should immediately back out of the box, take a deep breath and change his mental purpose from hitting the ball hard to making contact with the ball.
By choking up on the bat, cutting down on his swing and mentally attempting to just make contact, the hitter will greatly reduce strike outs and increase the batting average with base hits.
Running Speed: God gives a player natural running abilities and speed, but whatever natural talents you have, they can be increased with work.
One such method, utilized when attempting to steal bases, is the Keep Low drill. Without going into detail, sprinters begin their race low and as they run, slowly raise their body up to running posture, which increases speed.
Position yourself at first base as a base stealer, approximately 6 to 8 feet to your right, towards second base, have the coach or someone, hold his arm out at chest level. As you begin to steal, if you make contact with the arm, you’re raising up too soon and costing yourself speed. Practice this until you can always get pass the arm before raising, maximizing your quickness.