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Two Drills for Improving Infielder Footwork

Behind every great infielder is an inordinate amount of preparation to have not just silky, smooth hands, but great footwork. Just ask Nerissa Myers, an All-National Pro Fastpitch infielder for the ScrapYard Dawgs. Myers made just two errors over the final 26 games of the 2016 regular season in leading the upstart Dawgs to the NPF playoffs in their inaugural season.
“All of your training has to be about getting faster,” said Myers before emphasizing three key words, “Footwork, footwork, footwork! Eliminate unnecessary steps and work on short quick releases … under pressure but in control. Trust your instincts.”

Meyers has always been a superb infielder, committing just 39 errors as a shortstop for the University of Louisiana-Lafayette in 227 career games. A multi-talented player, the Petal, Mississippi native shared some of her thoughts on improving the skills of a middle infielder.

One of the first things Myers shared was to focus on drills that improve a player’s footwork. She outlined two drills that may prove especially helpful.

Boudro Switchfoot Drill

In this drill, there are a series of four cones that are lined up in a straight line. 

  • At Cone 1, players shuffle back and forth as fast as they can for 10 yards.
  • On a coach or partner’s cue, players then sprint to Cone 2.
  • As they are sprinting, the coach points either right or left.
  • Once players get to the cone, they then switch their feet as fast as possible in the direction that was indicated.
  • Then repeat the shuffle drill side to side, and continue the same pattern to Cones 3 and 4.

The goal of the drill is much more than how to field a ground ball on the move. Spending 5-10 minutes a day on this drill will improve lateral movement and move the fielder one step closer to mastering the art of knowing the position of their feet without ever having to think about it.

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Once a player has fielded the ball, then comes the skill of exchanging the ball from glove to throwing hand and getting off a quick, accurate throw. A quick exchange is particularly critical when turning a double play. One of the most important things is for the fielder to square his or her body to the target and make a smooth exchange from glove to hand. Myers says that the more players practice this, the more relaxed they will be and it will become second nature in a game situation.

Four Corner Flips

The Four Corner Flip drill is an effective way of teaching players the quick release that they will need when big moments arrive. 

Have four infielders stand in a square about five to seven feet away from each other. Players roll a ground ball to the fielder directly across from them. He or she then fields it and flips the ball underhand to the player to his or her left.

Although there are many more drills available to improving the footwork of a middle infielder, whichever one you choose should include repetition and lots of live scrimmaging to prepare for in-game situations. Practice doesn’t necessarily guarantee perfection, but it will make better ballplayers as the season goes on.

From GameChanger and Lou Roesch.

Softball, Softball Tips & Drills