16 May Defensive Drill Series
Making sure your fielders cleanly field balls is just the first of two skills needed for a successful play as we’ve all seen our players field a ball only to throw it away.
Learn three drills designed to improve both fielding and throwing.
We’ve all seen that part of fielding a ball – an accurate throw – destroy not only the play, but in some cases your entire season. So it’s important to setup defensive situations in practice that give our players opportunities to practice fielding and throwing as well as concentration and focus.
Let’s look at a two part drill that’s designed in the first part to give your Infielders a lot of work fielding balls, covering bases, making and catching throws, and in the second part will give your outfielders the same thing.
Part 1: Infielders
To the right you can see the setup for part 1 of this fielding drill series. This part only involves your infielders so your outfielders can be off working on their hitting or some other skill. Place your infielders in their defense positions, but be sure to include starters and backups with the extra players off the infield & alternating in. Notice the pitcher and catcher are also involved in this drill as their defensive skills are important to practice as well. You’ll need two hitters (H1 and H2), one on each side of homeplate, but make sure they’re far enough apart not to hit each other when they swing. You’ll also need 4 buckets and a bunch of balls so you don’t spend time chasing balls – you want to spend your time fielding and throwing balls, not chasing. Place a bucket on each side of homeplate, each filled with as many balls as you have, and then place an empty bucket next to 1st base in foul territory and the other empty one behind 2nd base as shown.
When we look at how the drill works notice the three different colored arrows in the diagram to the right. Hitter 2 (H2) hits a groundball to the Pitcher (P) who fields and throws to the 1st baseman (1B) covering 1st base. 1B then dumps the ball into the bucket and gets ready for another play. 1B must always get back into her fielding position before each play instead of just standing on 1st waiting for the throw. Part of this drill is to help the 1B work on going back to cover the bag and she can’t practice that if she’s just standing on it the whole time.
While this is going on, Hitter 1 (H1) will be hitting groundballs to 3rd base (3B) who fields the ball and throws to the 2nd baseman (2B) covering 2nd. She then tosses the ball into the bucket behind 2nd base. Hitter 1 (H1) then hits a groundball to the shortstop (SS) who fields the ball and then throws to the Catcher (C) covering Home. Make sure the catcher works on getting in front of the plate, catching the ball and making a tag – don’t let her get lazy with the tag. Repeat this working in all your infielders and make sure you mix up the types of groundballs hit – hard shots, high bouncers, soft bouncers, ect – in order to prepare your players for all the balls they’ll get in a game.
Part 2: Infielders
The next drill still deals with just your infielders but now involves your Shortstop (SS) and 3rd baseman (3B) and Catcher (C) fielding groundballs.
To the left you can see that Hitter 1 (H1) bunts a ball on the left side of the field to allow the 3B and the C to work out whose going to field the bunt and then make the throw to 1st base with either 1st baseman (1B) or 2nd baseman (2B) making the play at the bag and then dropping the ball in the bucket. This will really involve a lot of communication between your infielders which is also something you need to practice.
Alternating with H1’s bunts toward 3rd, H2 hits groundballs to the Pitchers (P) who must turn and make their throw to the SS covering 2nd base (ball then goes in the bucket). You’ll notice that in Part 1 & 2 the Pitchers get lots of groundballs and throws – something we don’t do enough with our pitchers!
Part 3: Outfielders
This part of the defensive drill series involves the outfielders fielding balls and making throws to your infielders covering bases. To setup place your team in their defensive positions keeping in mind that alternates should have their gloves and be ready to fill in just off the field in foul territory. Two buckets full of balls will stay at home plate with one on each side of the plate, while one of the empty buckets goes near 3rd in foul territory and the other empty bucket just behind 2nd base.
Hitter 1 will mix up hitting flyballs, line drives and grounders to the Leftfielder (LF) who then makes the throw to the 2nd baseman (2B) covering 2nd – then places the ball in the bucket. On the other side of the plate Hitter 2 (H2) mixes up hitting flyballs, line drives and groundballs into the Right-Centerfield gap. Either the CF or the LF will field the ball and then throw to the Catcher (C) covering Home. The Catcher (C) then makes a quick throw down to the 3rd baseman (3B) covering 3rd. She then tosses the ball into the bucket beside the 3rd base bag and the drill starts again.
While these drills might look a little complicated, once your players get the hang of it you can get your team a ton of defensive work, in a rather distractive environment in a relatively short amount of time.