Nick Beckmann is a high school coach, All-Star fielding & hitting instructor, and former college player. Additional educational resources for players, coaches and parents are available at gamersacademy.net.
Preseason Fielding Workout Week 2 From Nick Beckmann
Good habits make great fielders. Seriously, it’s that simple. As we learned in the first week of our Fielding Program, dedicated training can turn habit in to instinct. The dexterity developed by the Glove Hand Drill is expanded upon in the Hand Transfer Drill, where we focus on the placement of the ball after it makes contact with the fielder’s glove.
This is a warm-up drill that functions as an introduction to the short hop drill. We like to get the players moving the ball from glove to hand without thinking or worrying about anything else. In this drill, we zero in on the moment when a fielder transfers a ball from the glove, to the bare hand. The idea is to get that ball into the throwing hand as quickly as possible after making contact, while the glove is still out in front of the player. It’s a great way to warm up a fielder’s hands, but moreover, it instills an important value, which is to make sure that movements are being made as efficiently as possible. Two things to take note of: First, we instruct the players not to catch the ball in the glove’s webbing, and instead aim to make contact in the palm area of the glove hand to ensure the quickest possible transfer. Secondly, and to the same end, an infielder’s glove needs to be smaller. This is very important for young fielders, as we often see youth players wearing oversized gloves and struggling to develop these habits. At the high school or prep level, infielders should use a glove no larger than 11 ¾ on average. At the Gamer’s Academy, we utilize a 9 ½ glove for these drills, which forces the fielders to focus a little harder, and that extra focus pays off.
After receiving a short hop and performing the hand transfer, we instruct the fielders to get the ball into what we call the holster, a spot at the right hip ideal for preparing to throw. This, in conjunction with proper hand transfer makes for a very quick release of the ball. One way to think about this week’s drills, as well as drills we’ll be presenting in the coming weeks, is as the constituent parts of the Infield Slalom Drill from week one, which is often too difficult for younger fielders to master. By introducing them to that drill early, it gives the drills that we’ve expanded upon this week a clearer sense of purpose.
Standard ground ball
This is the main footwork drill for the week. Placing a cone in front of your fielder allows him/her to work on foot and glove hand skills at all the different angles he/she will encounter during a game.On routine ground balls, always attack the ball! That’s our battle cry, and it’s served us well. Again, we focus on avoiding crossing the feet, opting instead to take jab steps at a 45 degree angle, pivoting on the right foot. The goal is to go around the cone to field the ball, creating the proper angle, so that the fielder’s weight is oriented towards first base.
Standard ground ball with pause
This is a personal favorite of ours for really unearthing the little hiccups in a fielder’s technique. Have your fielder pause wherever he/she makes contact with the ball. This allows both student and instructor to check the positioning, see where the ball was received, and make sure the feet, the glove hand, and the throwing hand are all in the correct spot. That’s the end of the drill. By breaking everything down, step by step, you’re able to chart an individual fielder’s course of improvement. We do the pause drill with almost every type of ground ball, and we recommend you do too.
Next week we’ll be preparing to field through the ball, putting what we’ve learned this week together with some new techniques.