The unpredictable weather that comes with the early part of the softball season — including the ice and snow that has recently gripped large parts of the country — can wreak havoc on practices. Some teams are fortunate enough to have indoor facilities. Some teams have to make do with basketball gymnasiums. Either way, coaches have to be ready to adjust to an indoor space that limits their practice plans.
“We’re very fortunate we have an indoor facility,” Piedmont (Ala.) High School softball coach Rachel Smith said. “We can work some small defensive stations if we need to work defense.”
Smith said the Bulldogs can’t recreate a full infield, but they can run defensive drills, work on fundamentals and have batting practice in their turf room.
“We can do ground ball drills in there, but there’s no bad hops on turf,” Smith warns. “Not like you’re playing on a real field.”
The Bulldogs do have enough space to have four pitchers throwing.
The Hendersonville (Tenn.) High School Lady Commandos also have access to an indoor facility. Their indoor space is a little bigger, and the team can set up a full infield.
“It’s very nice to have this facility and be able to get some work in,” said coach Jeff Serbin, whose team was indoors for the last two weeks of February. “Lots of schools around our area don’t have that opportunity. I talked to another coach a little north of here and they haven’t done anything (in practice).”
Serbin said his indoor practices usually include an hour of defense before setting up four hitting stations — for drills such as front side toss and balls on a string — plus the big batting cage. The team’s pitchers also get plenty of work in the bullpen or in batting practice.
Sharing the Space
Both Smith and Serbin said their teams share the indoor facility with their schools’ other sports.
Being courteous, patient and flexible make it possible for all teams to have access to the practice space.
“We alternate days with baseball,” Smith said. “We have a really good working relationship with our baseball team. If it’s our day and we get in and out, we let them know (the space is empty) if they still have guys that need work.”
Smith said her team can also practice at the school’s football stadium if the weather doesn’t cooperate. If the softball field is too wet to practice on, the Bulldogs can use the turf football field.
“We can throw down some bases and work some defense out there,” she said.
Smith is also able to send her players homework even if they can’t run a full practice. They can review drills or watch video of their mechanics at home so they come prepared to work the next day.
You don’t need an indoor facility with a turf floor to run practice.
Here are some suggestions for indoor practices:
- Hit off a tee and focus on mechanics
- Hit off a pitching machine
- Use the 3-2-1 Drill to improve bat speed and reaction time
Fielding and Throwing
- “Four corners” for crisp throws and quickly getting the ball out
- Fielding without a glove to focus on body position
- Practice transferring the ball to glove before throwing
- Force runners to make quick decisions as coach calls out different types of hits