Are your players struggling to throw on the run? Is their short game defense a bit lacking? If so, this simple drill can help. The ability to throw on the run is essential for outfielders (and a worthwhile skill for infielders to cultivate as well). Short game defense is also essential. This simple drill can make all the difference – it requires very little equipment, and it can also be adapted for use off the field.
A Look at the Drill
To get started, you’ll need a few things. First, you need six Zip Balls. You’ll also need four players, and a brick wall. Your players will not need their gloves for this drill, but you (the coach) will need to be present.
You should stand about 10 feet from the wall with all six balls available (in hand). Position your players in a line extending to your right (at the same distance from the wall as you). You should throw the first Zip Ball at the wall so it strikes at an angle and bounces off as a groundball heading toward the first player. That player will charge the ball and field it, then throw it back at the wall so it bounces off as a groundball heading toward the second player. The process repeats itself down the line until all four players have fielded. The first player should move into position on the other side of the fourth player, allowing the last player to throw on the run as well.
This drill could conceivably continue as long as you have wall to use with the players rotating out with each catch and throw. However, it’s important to ensure that the entire drill is conducted at a run. Players should have to run toward the ball (charge) rather than just step forward and catch. Again, no gloves should be used. The reason for this is to impart the importance of focusing on fielding, before the throw. With a glove, players tend to rely on it to do the work, and focus on moving to the throw. Without a glove, they have to rely on their fingers and palm.
You can change things up by throwing two balls back to back. The first ball will go to player one, and the second to player two. Player one will charge, field and throw to player three, while the second player will charge, field and throw to player four. Each player will rotate to the back of the line as before.
If a player misses fielding the ball, she should be penalized. Have her sit out the rest of the time, or have her practice solo by throwing the ball against the wall and then fielding it herself. You can come up with other penalties as well. The point of penalizing misses is to reinforce the fact that fielding is the point of the drill. You should also penalize players who fail to charge the ball. After all, throwing on the run is the second point of this drill.
Tips and Tricks
As mentioned, this drill is very simple, and requires very little in the way of equipment. It can be set up in a number of different areas. The most important element is to have a hard wall off which to bounce the balls, and to use Zip Balls rather than conventional softballs. It could conceivably be performed in a gym with brick or block walls during rainy weather, or if the field is unavailable for practice. It can also be setup for practice at home as long as the player has a partner or two.