Baseball is a game of mental fortitude, especially on defense.
Having all of your players on a string to execute efficiently on each defensive play, especially in the latter stages of a contest, constitutes the narrow margin between winning and losing.
That’s why the Roulette Drill has been critical to Laramie Dryden’s Grand Ridge Middle School baseball team.
Dryden, in his first season at the helm of the Indians, began the drill during his last head coaching position at nearby Sneads High School.
The Sneads baseball team made history last season as the first male program in school history to advance to the state Final Four.
Now Dryden is placing an emphasis on defense as Grand Ridge gears up to make a run at the conference championship.
Here’s the way the Roulette Drill works:
“We try to do it at least once a week, sometimes twice. How long it takes just depends on how many outfielders I have. We’ll carry about five or six outfielders. To go through one whole rotation of the outfielders usually takes 2-3 minutes.”
- “We have all of our outfielders lined up in right field, with only one outfielder having a turn each round. We start by hitting a ground ball straight at the outfielder. They go after it as if a live game situation, throw it into second base.”
- “The next ball you hit, the outfielder is sprinting across the field right after he throws the first one to second. When you hit it to the outfield, it’s as if it’s a double cut, like an automatic double type ball.”
- “We have our infielders hit the right cuts and quickly get back into position. That outfielder is now done and move to the infield.”
- “The next thing we do is a pickoff attempt. We just kind of rotate it between first and second. We don’t work on third base pickoff attempts. So we’ll pick off either first or second.”
- “The next thing we’ll do is a bunt coverage. Once you do it, everybody should quickly get back to their position and then the team runs a lap.”
- “Then we do a point and talk, like a passed ball to the catcher and the pitcher has to point if its to the third base side, first base side, or straight behind him and cover home as if it was a passed ball.”
- “Then we start it all over again with a ball to the next outfielder in line.”
At first, the Grand Ridge players were understandably flustered. But now they’re starting to reap the rewards.
“It took them a little while to remember when to do what and what to do next,” Dryden said. “The big thing is trying to get a routine of what they’ve got to do. We’re not experts yet by any means but we’re getting there.”
The Roulette Drill forces players to not slack off and build positive habits.
“In practice it’s hard to get everybody to go full speed all the time. You can practice but if you’re not going game speed then it’s not fully benefiting you,” Dryden said. “You’ve got to make practice as fast as possible to make it replicate a game to help you as much as possible.”
An increase in stamina will produce the desired results when the game is on the line.
“When they get tired they start to make mental mistakes. That’s what we want to prevent late in the game,” Dryden said. “You can’t affect what the other team does but you can affect your mental mistakes.”
Even during Sneads’ historic season, defense at times was a struggle. So Dryden wants his new middle school bunch to understand the importance of being honed in and properly positioned.
“Defense is very important. We lost games last year in high school because of defense. You’ve got to be fundamentally sound,” Dryden said. “If you’ve got a pitcher that throws strikes and you don’t make errors, you have a chance to win every single game you play.”
From GameChanger and Rolando Rosa
Want more articles like this? Check out other drill or practice plans here.