I use this: Smush Balls
Wiffle ball alternative: smush brand foam baseballs.
As a baseball coach I am always looking for better tools to prepare my players. For years we have used wiffle balls, but the problem with wiffle balls is
1. They break
2. They hurt like heck if you get hit with them.
3. They can be hard to throw (excessive movement)
A few years ago I came across a product called “Smush balls”. A smush ball is basically a durable foam baseball. It has an advantage over other foam baseballs in that it matches the 9″ circumference of a real baseball but they are durable. They are also slightly heavier than an ordinary toy foam ball which makes them easier to throw. Because they are white, it is easier for the kids to see them coming out of your hand.
These things are just fantastic for pregame warm ups. I suppose you can also use them for indoor batting practice if you have a gym or even a garage. They are not going to damage anything and if you get stung with a comebacker? It is kind of like getting hit with a Nerf Dart – annoying but not painful.
The other advantage of smoosh balls is that you can stand pretty close to a batter when pitching them without fear of getting hurt, and because they are light they will not travel very far. At first hitters get used to seeing a ball coming out of a pitchers hand, but over time my better hitters really focus on driving them. They might not travel far but if a player has good bat speed they can drive these things a good 90 to 100 feet at the 11 & 12 year old age. My fourteen year old summer balls hitters can drive them even farther.
How we use them
We keep 4 dozen in a bucket and use the lid of the bucket as a plate. We setup down the foul line depending upon what dugout we are in and then then a coach (usually me), pitches them to a player who swings his game bat to drive them into the crowd of players shagging in the outfield. You can quickly get in 6,9 or 12 pitches per player. When you couple this with a soft toss and a bunt station you can get your players 20 to 30 good cuts before a game starts, enough to get them moving.
I recommend making smush that last station because that is what they are likely to see in a game, someone throwing a white ball at them.
You can find smush balls at http://www.smushballs.com/. I warn you, they seem expensive, however in my experience they last a long, long time. In fact, the biggest challenge with them is that they will pick up dew from the grass at morning warm ups and if you keep the lid on the bucket they can get a little smelly. But they can take years of abuse before they start to break apart.