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Practice Baseballs – Complete Reference Guide

In the dynamic landscape of baseball, the line between game-day baseballs and their practice counterparts is nuanced yet significantly distinct.

Official game balls are meticulously engineered with exacting standards in weight, construction, and materials, ensuring uniformity and equity in the heat of competition. Conversely, practice baseballs are designed with versatility in mind, catering to a spectrum of training necessities. They can be softer, lighter, and crafted for specific training exercises, facilitating a safe and effective practice environment. For the young rookie, safety balls present a friendly introduction to the game, while other variations are optimized for refining batting precision or enhancing fielding techniques.

This adaptability in training gear is invaluable, especially when navigating the challenges of a recreational spring season, often marred by rainouts. Coaches frequently resort to indoor school gyms to keep practice sessions on track. Here, the use of standard hardballs is impractical, as the unforgiving gym floors amplify impact forces, posing increased injury risks and the potential havoc of shattered windows and damaged lights. The need for specialized practice baseballs becomes evident, highlighting their role in adapting training to varied environments while safeguarding both players and facilities.

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Game-Worn Baseballs as Practice balls

Coaches in youth leagues often accumulate game-worn baseballs; these balls may lose their new sheen but remain functional for practice. Using them provides a realistic gameplay experience, facilitating the shift from practice to matches.

However, their varied conditions introduce inconsistencies, requiring players to adjust to different ball states, which could sometimes diverge from specific skill development objectives. It’s crucial to inspect these balls regularly, removing any with compromised integrity, like unraveling stitches or water-soaked (heavy) baseballs, as well as verifying that balls are age-appropriate to ensure a productive and safe practice environment.

Blem Balls

Blemished baseballs, known for their minor cosmetic flaws, emerge as a practical choice for practice, blending cost-efficiency with functional reliability. These balls, often marked by slight imperfections such as off-color spots, irregular stitching, or minor shape distortions, fall short of the aesthetic standards for professional play yet retain the full integrity of their performance capabilities.


Products such as Diamond DOL-1 Official League Blem Balls and Rawlings ROLB1X Practice Baseballs stand out in this category, providing an affordable and effective practice option. Coaches across various levels often utilize these blemished baseballs during live batting practice (BP) on the field.

Wilson A1010S is another excellent alternative.

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Baseballs Branded as Practice Balls

Baseballs specifically branded for practice purposes are designed to meet the unique demands of youth baseball training sessions, offering durability and performance tailored for repetitive use.


The Wilson A1030, for example, boasts a grade-C full-grain leather cover that ensures great tactile feedback, coupled with a standard red cushioned cork center for a pitch and hit response familiar to players. Rawlings’ R100-P practice balls, on the other hand, feature a cushioned, composite cork and rubber center encased in a durable leather cover, rendering them versatile across various training settings.

Due to inferior leather quality, Wilson Wilson A1030 is more suitable for 14 and younger age group versus Rawlings R100-P is intended for ages 15+ players.

Smush Balls

Often hailed as “the” practice balls for the younger cohorts, “Smushball” balls navigate the balance between safety and real-play feel and has become synonymous with indoor and beginner-friendly baseball drills. These balls are designed to mimic the size and, to an extent, the behavior of traditional baseballs without the risk of injury or damage to property, making them an indispensable tool in the coach’s arsenal.


A notable mention is the “Franklin Sports Foam Baseballs,” which are endorsed by MLB for their quality and suitability for kids. These soft, squishy balls are perfect for honing batting and catching skills without the intimidation factor of harder, regulation baseballs.

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Hollow Plastic Balls

Hollow plastic balls are synonymous with Wiffle balls. Wiffle balls are those lightweight, perforated marvels, that revolutionized batting practice with their unpredictable aerodynamics. Originating from the iconic Wiffle Ball that found its home in American backyards, hollow balls have more holes on the surface of a ball.

Both types of ball offer irregular flight patterns, requiring hitters to enhance their focus and adjust their timing. This makes hollow balls invaluable for refining batting precision and pitch recognition for young newcomers.


Available in sizes such as 10″, 9″, and the notably small 2″, these balls are designed to challenge and improve a hitter’s hand-eye coordination and swing mechanics. Practicing with Wiffle balls and its narrow bat is not only enjoyable but also effective in advancing a player’s capacity to track and connect with pitches.

Additionally, Wiffle balls offer a safe method to prepare youth players for handling pitch avoidance, including how to react properly to a “bean ball,” enhancing both skill and safety in practice scenarios.

I’m gearing up to spotlight the MaxBP pitching machine, which utilizes its unique 2″ Wiffle balls for productive batting sessions.

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Limited Flight Balls

Limited flight balls is a great fit for coaches looking to maximize their warmup practice before the game without the need for expansive spaces. Many youth baseball fields do not come with batting cages so these balls enable players to engage in full-strength hitting and fielding exercises in the outfield without disturbing infield warmup drills. They are also ideal for backyard sessions or cramped indoor facilities as these balls eliminate the concern of lost balls or damage to property.

Among the myriad of options, SKLZ Impact Balls and PowerNet Flexi Soft balls are prominent choices, recognized by coaches and parents for their durability and realistic feel.

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Weighted Balls

Weighted balls serve as a cornerstone for players aiming to bolster their hitting and pitching strength. These heavier-than-standard baseballs into training routines forces ball players to “swing through the ball” which can significantly enhance their power through the zone and the stability of their swing or pitch. This method of training, focusing on resistance, aids in developing the muscle groups critical for explosive movements on the field.

Among the top choices for this purpose are the Total Control Ball and the SKLZ Weighted Training Balls, each designed to challenge and refine an athlete’s force application and control. They are especially effective during warm-ups or in drills targeting specific mechanical adjustments, offering a tangible way to feel and correct the path of motion.

As players progress, these tools become invaluable in translating increased physical power into power hitting players.

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Small balls

Small balls, particularly the 2″ solid variants, offer a stark contrast to their Wiffle ball counterparts in terms of training dynamics. While 2″ Wiffle balls introduce an element of unpredictability with their erratic flight paths, compelling hitters to hone their tracking skills and adaptability, 2″ solid balls demand an intensified focus on precision and timing. The solid small balls, lacking the Wiffle balls’ air resistance and unpredictable movements, challenge players to refine their swing mechanics and eye-hand coordination with a consistent object.

The difference in behavior between these two types allows coaches and players to target specific areas of development: Wiffle balls for adapting to variable pitch types versus solid balls for perfecting the fundamental act of making contact. Incorporating both into a training regimen offers a comprehensive approach, ensuring players are well-prepared for the range of pitches they’ll encounter in real games.

Component-wise, these baseballs are significantly different from regular baseballs so I highly recommend you read the Complete Guide to RIF and SEV Index Baseballs post.

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Incredi-Balls by Easton

Lastl, we cannot skip over the Incrediballs by invented by Easton! These balls, designed with a soft foam core, are enveloped in either a cloth or a leather cover, offering versatility for various training environments. The cloth-covered Incrediballs are perfect for indoor practices and younger players, minimizing the risk of injury with their softer impact. The leather-covered versions provide a more authentic experience, closely mimicking the feel of a traditional baseball for more advanced drills and older players.

For these benefits, including enhanced safety and a realistic practice experience, Incrediballs come with a higher price tag. This cost factor may pose a challenge for budget-conscious teams or organizations. Nonetheless, their durability and the level of safety they introduce to practice sessions can justify the investment, making Incredi-balls a valuable asset for comprehensive baseball training.

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Selecting the perfect practice baseball is crucial, dependent on the player’s age, skill level, and specific improvement goals. Each type, from the game-worn balls that provide a realistic feel to the small balls that demand precision, and the weighted balls that enhance strength, plays a distinct role in player development. Similarly, Wiffle balls and limited flight balls introduce novel methods to improve pitch recognition and facilitate safe, efficient practice spaces.

I hope this guide aids you on your journey to nurture young players’ growth into proficient ballplayers. If you have questions or need further clarification, feel free to leave a comment below. Additionally, if you found this post useful, please consider signing up for my newsletter as a show of support.

Please don’t forget to visit the Reference Guide to Baseballs page to read other fascinating information about baseballs!

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