The players hit off a tee. When they stride from the Ichiro position, they focus on going to load their hands back as they stride. Jefson will place a screen about 50 feet in front of the batter so he has a target to aim for.
“They’re not swinging, obviously, as hard as they can,” Jefson said. “They’re just trying to get that feeling to load. I think that helped us stay back this year and hit some off-speed a little bit better than in the past.”
Infield Fielding Progressions
With infielders, Jefson likes to work on fielding progressions. The coaches begin by placing players 8-10 feet apart and having them roll the ball back and forth to each other.
“We’re emphasizing head down, butt down, glove down — reaching out in front of us to receive the ball,” Jefson said. “When we field the ball, bring it to our belly button.”
The team eventually moves into forehands and backhands, and they might try something more advanced next, such as backhand off the throwing foot.
“It seems to be quicker for us,” Jefson said. “We’ll work on basically just gloving the ball in different positions — forehand, backhand, right at you — and then we’ll work the foot patterns that go with it. We’re always trying to field the ball in motion towards first base.”
For the outfielders, Jefson’s players focus largely on footwork. The player begins by standing about 10 feet from a coach. The coach then points toward one direction, and the player has to drop his back foot and take off.
“(The coach will) just throw him one so the player can get behind the ball, catch it with two hands,” said Jefson, who encourages players to catch the ball right in front of their face, just above the eyes.
Jefson’s favorite drill is one-pitch scrimmage. In the mock scenario, runners are on base and the count is full as the pitcher delivers to a hitter.
“It puts some pressure on both of those sides,” Jefson said. “You get your base running in during that time. Your pitchers don’t have to throw a whole lot; even in the middle of the season you can still do it. It just emphasizes hustling on and off the field, being ready to go, because it’s a really fast-paced drill.
“That one I really enjoy because you can kind of pick up the pace of the game. For some of these kids, it’s important for them to be able to think on their feet and adjust.”