“Defense wins championships” isn’t a tired cliché that holds no relevance.
It’s an emphasis that all coaches still need to prioritize or chances are, their team won’t achieve much success on the diamond. A great defense is tough both mentally and physically.
Heard County softball coach Matt Hornsby has a series of mental toughness drills in his pocket to pull out whenever the team needs a push. One of his favorite drills is the fence drill.
The Fence Drill
- Player stands a few feet in front of the outfield fence between two poles (or marked off area between cones), with their back towards the wall. **Can have three different lines - left, center and right field.**
- Coach stands about 20 yards out in the field in front of the player.
- Focus on blocking the ball at all costs and not allowing it to touch the fence.
- Description of the drill
- Coach hits player 10 ground balls or line drives in a row, player must not allow the ball to touch the fence in between the next pole to their left or right side.
- If player successfully stops all 10 balls, they are done!
- If at any point in their turn the ball touches the fence, they’re done for that round and have to run a lap around the field and get back in line (or one of the other three lines).
- The drill is not complete until everybody on the team fields 10 balls in a row without letting it hit the fence.
This drill not only works on defense, but naturally adds an aspect of accountability and competitiveness. The players who might usually take a more casual approach to fielding the ball will instead exert extra care when the ball approaches them.
“It just gets to where eventually they’re just trying to block the ball as if they’re hockey goalies. They’re trying to be better than the softball,” Hornsby said. “That’s what we always tell them: Who’s tougher, you or the softball?”
The drill has sparked the competitive fire of the team and has paid dividends when game day rolls around.
“Our girls actually love doing this drill just because they want to see who can get it done the fastest,” Hornsby said.
From GameChanger and Rolando Rosa
Want to view other defensive practice drills like this? Check out Fast and Furious Roulette Drill Will Sharpen Defense in Crunch Time.