This drill is used to teach young players to get their hands and glove out front when fielding a grounder. The younger players often get in the habit of catching grounders close to his or her feet and slightly in front of the toes. Usually younger players bend mainly at the waist and do not get their "rear" down low enough.
As coaches, we want infielders to extend their arms and get the glove out in front so that they can see the ball into it. The player should "lay" the glove on the ground in front of his/her body. Each player's distance will vary. However, a good rule of thumb is to try to extend their glove a distance equal to the player's arm, or from the tip of the fingers to the armpit. The main idea for this drill is, the more a player extends his/her arms "outward," instead of "downward," the lower he/she will have to get his/her "rear" down, in order to correctly get the glove extended and on the ground.
For this drill we pair two players. Players will roll grounders to each other from about 6 to 8 feet apart. The coach draws two lines in dirt about 8 feet apart. The players must catch the ball out in front of this line. The coach will draw a second line for each player. This is the "feet" line. The player's feet must stay behind this line. The players roll the ball and catch it while making sure to: 1) Get extension, 2) Keep the elbows off the ribs, 3) Get their "rear" down, 4) Funnel the ball in using the top "bare" hand, 5) Work their feet as they position the ball up to the correct "T" throwing position, 6) Roll the ball back to their partner, 7) Repeat the process. 50 to 100 ground balls (GB's) each practice should be done.
O = The Player's feet X = The Player's glove
Feet Line ----------------O-----O----------------------------
Glove Line ------------------X-------------------------------
Glove Line ------------------X-------------------------------
Feet Line ----------------O-----O---------------------------
This drill is a must for every baseball and softball team. Then taught properly, each player will learn how to catch with two hands, correct body positioning for a quick catch and throw, and develop throwing accuracy.
Distances should be matched to the age of the players. First line up four (or more) players an equal distance apart and in a straight line.
Players practice throwing and catching to the next person in the line as they would in a game. (Relay from an outfielder, to an infielder, then to a catcher)
Teach each player to always use two hands for quicker catch and throw. Teach players to throw the ball to the "glove side" of the person they are throwing to. Teach players to step directly towards the person they are throwing to, for accuracy.
As players progress, have the players get faster and faster with their catch and throw to the next player. Finish the drill with two or three lines of four players per line. You can play a game to see which team can throw up and down the line four times in the quickest amount of time. Timing the players with a stop watch and keeping the best times in a good way to "push" them for speed. The losing team runs a lap or other such "penalty".
This drill is a fun drill that players like to play. Players get in a "closed" circle (players feet should be just several inches away from the person's foot next to them), facing each other, and get in the fielding ground-ball positioning. Players are using their bare hands and not wearing any ballglove.
Players roll the ball (as hard as their age and level will allow) to a player across the circle. You are not allowed to roll the ball to the person next to you. If a player bobbles or drops the ball when it is rolled to them, they are out of the game and the circle then gets smaller. Players must roll the ball so that the ball does not bounce or hop to the player they are throwing it to. The coach acts as "judge" to rule on the game.
As each player is eliminated, the circle keeps getting smaller and smaller. When there is four or less players in the circle, players may then roll the ball to the person next to them as well. Each player is trying to eliminate the others so that he/she will become the last player standing and claimed Circle Champion.
This drill develops good hand-eye coordination and the use of two hands. Usually after the first game is completed, players want to immediately play again. Usually you see the players who were eliminated early, become more focused at staying in the second game.
The real key to having good defensive (fielding) skills is being aggressive. Play the ball, don't let the ball play you. Youth players usually wait for the ball to come to them instead of aggressively charging the ball. While there is no substitute for repetition and practice, the more comfortable and confident you can make a player feel will result in greater fielding success.
Many youth or beginners try to catch the ball only in the webbing of the glove or "shy away" from hard hit or thrown balls altogether. Glovemate, helps players field and catch the ball with confidence. When players wear a Glovemate, they don't feel the sting or pain when catching a hard hit or thrown ball in the "pocket area" of the glove. Balls simply don't hurt their hands. Players begin to field and catch with more confidence.
As the Glovemate inventor, I have seen many players become more aggressive and begin fielding with much greater confidence simply because they did not fear the pain or "sting" when catching the ball when wearing Glovemate. Glovemate is designed for all players of all ages and levels of play. As a former college and professional player, I would have worn a Glovemate every time I took the field. Once players wear a Glovemate, they won't want to play without it.
This drill is a good drill to teach players how to catch short-stops. To catch short-hops players will learn that their glove must be out in front and that it is easier to catch short-hops at the ball's lowest possible point. As a former college and professional player (Gold Glove Award winner), I attribute this drill for teaching me how to catch "impossible" short-hops and make them become very simple for me.
Two players stand facing each other approximately 30-40 feet apart. You may vary the distance based on the age and skill levels of the players. A player throws the ball directly to, and at the feet of his partner so that the ball hits the ground on front and just out of the reach on the other player. This is called a short-hop. The player tries to catch the ball without bobbling or dropping the ball. He then throws the ball in the same way back to his partner.
Players can keep some score and the loser (player who drops or can't catch 5 balls first) runs a lap or other such "penalty." The better the players become at this drill/game, the more they will want to play it. Also, the better the players get, the harder they will throw the ball at the other player's feet, to try to make the other player miss or bobble the ball. It becomes very competitive and lots of fun.
In the beginning, most players won't want to play this game because they will constantly miss or bobble the ball. A lot of players will get hit with the ball as it careens off of the ground. That is what makes it fun and challenging. I always played this drill in the beginning of practices, immediately after I had done my stretching and loosened up my arm by playing catch with someone. I used to love playing this!
This drill teaches players to catch fly balls while on the run. On most youth teams, players rarely get enough practice catching fly balls while running full speed. This is a great drill that teaches players to keep their head still while running, locate the ball in the air, and develops hand-eye coordination while running. This drill is necessary for ALL players and is a "must" for outfielders.
This drill has two versions: Version 1) Players line up "single file" and on the coach's yell of "Go", the player begins to run down the field while looking back (exactly like a wide receiver running a "fly pattern" in football). When the player gets down-field a certain distance (distance is determined by age and skill level of the players), the coach throws the ball over the player's shoulder. The coach should "lead" the player as to allow the player to catch the ball on the run.
Version 2) Players line up in a single file. The distance players are from the coach is determined by age and skill level. This time, players are to run across the field (Left to Right or Right to Left) instead of down the field. The coach throws a fly ball that the player can catch on the run. This is best if the coach can "lead" the players as to allow the players to catch the ball without breaking their stride.
In college, this play has bailed us out of a lot of bad situations. It was a play I always like to see "called," because it always seemed to catch the opposing team off guard.
With runners on 1st AND 2nd base is when you want to call this play. Calling this play with 1 or 2 outs is even better. Usually with a runner on 2nd base, the runner on 1st gets a little bit bigger lead and at the same time foes not fear a throw from the pitcher. Most runners on 1st base (with a runner on 2nd) believe that the pitcher is only or primarily concerned with the "lead" runner on 2nd base.
The first-baseman or Manager is usually the one who calls this play, by a certain signal or specific word to the pitcher. With the first baseman playing well behind the runner (not holding the runner on) the pitcher goes into his "stretch." Usually, the pitcher would look at the runner on 2nd, then look home, then back to 2nd (for the second time), then home, as he delivers the ball to the plate (hitter).
In this case (practice the timing to make it perfect), when the pitcher goes into his stretch, he looks at the runner on 2nd, then home, then... just as he starts to look again at 2nd, he quickly turns (counter clockwise) and throws the ball to the bag at 1st base. The first baseman starts his break to the bag (behind the runner), the very instant that the pitcher started to turn his head from home, to look at the runner on 2nd base, for the second time.
The ball and the 1st baseman get to the bag before the runner on 1st can react. (He had a big, comfortable lead because he thought you were only concerned about the runner on 2nd base). The first baseman catches a well thrown ball from the pitcher, swipe tags the runner (now frantically diving back to 1st), and the umpire calls him out.
If you call this play with one out and get the runner out, for the second out, your infielders can play at normal depth for the third out. If you call this play with 2 outs and get the runner out for the third out, you have stopped a potential big inning for your opponents. Practice this play to get the timing right. When you pull it off, you will make this play a "regular" in your defensive arsenal.
During practice of this play, it is important that your pitchers throw the ball to the inside part of the bag. DON'T throw to the first baseman. If he is not at the bag when the ball gets there, it is his fault. If the pitcher throws other than to the bag, it's his fault. But with practice and timing, this play is fairly simple to master.