Proper Catching and Throwing Techniques
Outfield drills work on your team's ability to not only catch and throw the ball, but also how to set up and execute relays, where to know to throw the ball given the situation, and where an outfielder should position herself to properly back up a play.
Many of these concepts were reviewed on the softball practice drill page, the softball tips page and the bunt defense page. Please refer to those pages for a refresher on where to teach outfielders to be, given certain situations.
Many coaches also use the tried and true outfield drills method of hitting the ball to the outfielders repetitively to teach them how to move back on the ball, how to expect the ball to act, and so forth. For instance, a right fielder should expect a ball to tail towards the foul line if hit by a right handed hitter, since the ball was likely hit off the end of the bat. A similar situation occurs for a leftfielder when they see a left handed hitter.
Below are specific outfield drills to teach certain techniques necessary for your team to be successful. Each will be highlighted below.
Name of Drill: Pop Up Drill
Who: Primarily Outfielders, but good for entire team
Duration: 10 minutes
Explanation: The object of this outfield drill is to teach your players to quickly get into position, find the ball, call for the ball, and make the catch. You will need two players and a coach. The two players lay face down on the ground. The coach stands at the feet of the two players. The coach throws a pop up and yells, "BALL!" This is a signal for the two players to get up on their feet find the ball and the one who spots it first yells, "I got it!", properly position her feet to be ready to make a throw (glove hand foot forward, throwing hand foot back with her shoulder towards the direction of the throw) and makes the catch. Do this repeatedly, rotating the location of the ball. Although a simple drill, the getting up and down is a form of conditioning for the players.
Worked on: Finding a pop up, properly calling for the ball, team work, proper foot work in handling and throwing the ball.
Competitive Game: Proceed as above and see how many in a row the pair can catch, having properly called for the ball and positioned their feet to make the throw.
Name of Drill:
The object of this outfield drill is to have your players know how to position themselves to take a relay throw and be able to throw with a minimum of movement. Look at the two pictures.
The picture to the right shows the proper stance your player should be in when receiving the ball from her right and throwing to her left (such as a throw from right field to second base). Notice as soon as she catches the ball, she already has her feet set and can throw the ball.
Similarly, the picture to the left shows the proper position when receiving a throw from the left and throwing to the right (such as from left filed to second base). Again, as soon as she catches the ball, she will be ready to throw simply by rotating the top half of her body.
The Indian Run is designed to drill this proper footwork into your players. Divide your team into groups of six. Set up six markers (we typically used balls) in the outfield about 10 years apart. The object is to have each player, in proper position (let’s say the ball is going from right to left, so the players in the middle should look like the first picture above), throw the ball (direction A) to the player next to them and so on down the line. Once it gets to the end of the line, the players in the middle reposition themselves to receive the relay properly (as in the second picture) and the ball is thrown (direction B) to each consecutive player back to the original player at the beginning of the line. When this happens, player 1 (run C) goes to the back of the line, with player 2 (run D)moving to where player 1 was, player 2 to player 1 spot, and so on. If a throw is missed either because it was inaccurate or the player did not catch it, the ball goes back to the player where the errant throw originated and the drill continues.
Accurate throws, team work, proper foot work in handling and throwing the ball, conditioning.
As above, except, when the original player (player 1) is back to the first spot, that team sits down. The first team to do this wins. The team that wins this competition is rarely the team that has the hardest throwers, but rather the team that positions their body to quickly throw it to the next teammate and makes accurate throws that are all caught. To win, the team must be technically sound.
Name of Drill:
The object of this outfield drill is to work on how to track down a ball that is over the players head and make the catch. The basic technique being taught is that when a ball is hit that is over your head, you turn your shoulders in the direction the ball is going and run like you normally would with your glove down, bringing the glove up to catch the ball at the last second. Despite the picture, you do not want your players running with their gloves up in the air. It makes them slower, and it makes for hard hands, meaning the ball is likely to bound out of the glove. We used a nerf football for this drill to change it up. The players should use their gloves for this drill. Split the team in half, with half going to the third baseline and half to the first baseline. A player from the third baseline goes to short and a player from the first baseline goes to second. The coach stands on the pitcher’s mound. The coach throws the nerf for the shortstop first and throws the nerf as a pop up over her head either towards third or second base. The player must turn her shoulders and run and make the catch. After the catch, the next player on the third baseline comes out to short. The coach then does the same thing to the player at second, throwing towards either second or first. After the catch, the next player comes out from the first baseline, and the coach now throws to the player at shortstop and so on.
Proper turning of the shoulders and running for the ball, bringing up the glove when needed to maximize speed to the ball, bringing up the glove at the last minute to create soft hands, proper foot work in handling and throwing the ball.
Challenge the team to see how many in a row each side can catch.
Hopefully this will be a start in building out your collection of outfield drills. If you have a few outfield drills that you find particularly useful and are willing to share, please enter them below. Your fellow coaches will appreciate your contributions.
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