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Infield Drills Any Coach Can Use

There is no hard and fast rule of when to conduct infield drills during practice. Regardless of the sequence, all drills should be consistent, says Chris Bates, instructor and head of player development at In the Zone Academy in Flanders, N.J.

Fielding drills are especially important because unlike hitting, you need two people at each position to work on team defense. It’s also a good idea for the other players to work on their positions during infield practice. Outfielders can work on their drills or be used as runners during bunt coverage or first-to-third plays.

Working on Grounders, Short Hops

One simple drill for working on ground balls is to divide infielders into pairs, position them about 15 feet apart on the infield dirt, and have them roll balls to each other.

“They’re not moving, their feet are apart, their gloves are on the ground, backs are flat, and they’re working down to up, out to in, basically a steady roll back and forth probably 15 to 20 each,” Bates said. “Then they’ll turn their body, work glove side for another 15 to 20, and backhand 15 to 20. No movement, really, just making sure we’re watching the ball roll into our glove, fielding it, and doing all the things fundamentally correct.”

Once that’s complete, move each pair to about 10 feet apart and have them practice throwing short hops to each other, using both hands. The thrower should always make sure the other’s glove is on the ground before throwing the ball. After 15 to 20 balls, infielders should switch to the glove side, then the backhand side.

“Backhand gets a little tricky because you can do it two different ways,” Bates explains. “We try to do 10 with our throwing foot forward, then 10 with our glove foot forward.”

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Two-Fungo Drill

If your high school or travel team has at least two coaches, you can use what Bates calls a two-fungo drill. One coach can hit to third and second, while the other hits to short and first. If catchers are finished working with the pitchers, they can feed balls to the fungo hitters. The idea is for the third baseman to practice turning a 5-4-3, with the first baseman moving up toward second base about 60 feet instead of 90, with a net behind him to catch overthrows. The shortstop works on throwing across on 6-3s.

Do this for about three minutes, then collect the balls and work on 5-3, 6-4, and 4-6 plays for another three minutes. This is followed by hitting balls to the 5-6 hole. If the third baseman doesn’t get it, he retreats back to third, and the shortstop flips to third for a force-out, rather than throwing across or turn a long double play. The other fungo batter hits balls to the second baseman, who works on throwing to first.

Since two balls are being hit simultaneously during a two-fungo drill, make sure you have good fungo hitters, and your players are staggered enough so they don’t get hit.

Now Try One Fungo

You can also practice hitting slow rollers to each infielder, using only one fungo hitter. For this drill, the first baseman comes in, fields the ball and throws to third, if he’s left-handed. A right-handed first baseman should come in, backhand and throw to third. This way, his momentum is already going that direction, making the play easier.

The Infield Square

To practice throwing around the infield, Bates recommends several drills you can use. The first involves placing four fielders in a square, about 15 feet apart. The players flip the ball underhanded to each other, like in a double play. Keep their arms straight, using a stiff wrist, with gloves on their hips once the ball is out. Every fielder follows their flip, glove side first, rotating around the square. The idea is to have a sequence of catch, flip and follow. The ball should be caught with two hands, palms open. After about two minutes, repeat the process rotating the other way for another two minutes.

Next, back everybody up about 40 feet and throw overhand, glove side first, going clockwise, using the same catch, throw and follow sequence. After two minutes, rotate the other way.

Throw it Across the Diamond

Another easy throwing drill is to put the catcher behind home plate, the first baseman at his position, the middle infielders at second, and the third baseman at third. Since the ball will be thrown 90 feet, the fielders won’t follow their throw.

The catcher starts by throwing to third, the third baseman throws to second, and the second baseman throws to first. After every third throw, the player who has the ball throws across the diamond. This gives each fielder practice on throwing to each base as well as throwing for distance in different game situations.

Utilizing these and other drills will teach your infielders the importance of repetition, communication and proper throwing mechanics.

From GameChanger and Stephen Kerr.

Coaches Toolkit by GameChanger

 

Baseball, Softball

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