Baseball Fielding Drills
Catching, Throwing and Fielding
They are the 3 areas to developing yours and your teams defensive game.
Fielding drills come in many different shapes and sizes and will need to be planned accordingly depending on the position you’re coaching.
There are 3 fundamental areas you should focus on when trying to develop your or yours players fielding skills:
For catching, the ability to stop ground balls as well as catching fly balls are paramount to keeping a solid defense.
Developing catching skills requires hand-eye coordination, footwork and not being afraid of the ball – something especially useful to combat in a young players game.
For throwing, it’s easy to start judging quality by the distance the balls thrown. However, putting a focus on accuracy and injury prevention will build a solid base to work from.
Finally, for fielding in general, it’s important to not only to have a great first step but to also already have a good positioning and fielders stance before they’ve even made the move to stop the ball.
While you certainly can get a great session out of using mininal equipment there will come a time in yours or your players development where adding a few extra bits of equipment can make all the difference. Training aids such as; rebounders, fungo bats and maybe some sort of training net will be hugely beneficial.
That said however, you don’t need to spend a fortune and certainly don’t need everything. A couple training aids to compliment your development will be more than enough.
Baseball Throwing Drills
Throw The Goalie
Why This Drill? This drill introduces your players to catching, getting down low to make the stops and help them understand and read different throws
Details: Real simple setup with this one – have one player stand between 2 cones with a glove. Have another player stand opposite and throw balls towards the player in ‘goal’. Ensure the thrower throws different throws both in the air and along the ground.
Progressions & Regressions: Move the cones further apart. You could also change the distance the thrower is from the ‘goalie’.
Moving square gets players to develop their throwing and catching skills under more realistic conditions.
Setup: Place 4 cones or markers down that create a square shape. Place one thrower in the middle and another player at one of the cones.
- Start with a simple throw and catch drill
- Then you can move onto a throw, catch, run to the next cone repeat sequence.
- Further progressions to this for older age groups:
- Have the thrower name the cone the other player should run too
- Have the catcher try and catch the ball as they are running
Ready Aim Throw
Ready Aim Throw is a throwing game that helps your players develop their throwing accuracy.
Setup: Setup a ball on top of a batting tee. Then place markers or cones down for the different throwing distances. If a player hits the baseball on top of the batting tee, they then move back to the next distance.
Progressions: If you’ve got a few players to work with, you can turn this into a mini-competition between players. You can also use a ‘chain’ setup – this is where if a player hits the target they move back a distance. If they miss at the next distance then they must move forward again to the cone nearer to the target. For this game you might want to give each player a number of ‘lives’ before they concede a cone and move back.
Bucket Aim is another throwing accuracy game. If you don’t have any buckets you can use other targets too hit.
Setup: Set up 3-5 targets around the thrower. The thrower must either hit the targets or get the ball inside the bucket to score a point.
While not necessarily a drill per se, Ball Familiarity is a great way to get young players familiar with throwing, catching, the flight and weight of the ball. You can start this drill with younger players using a tennis ball to help them grow confidence and not be scared of the ball.
- Progression 1: Players work individually throwing and catching the ball. Can use bare hands and the progress to using gloves.
Progression 2: Introduce a partner and a throw and catch scenario.
This is another throwing and catching drill where both players have to work together to build a ‘chain’ of catches at different distances.
Setup: Start by placing 3 markers down at different distances for each player. Both players start on the same opposite marker with a baseball glove. To move back to the next marker they must make 5 successful throws without dropping the ball.
Ages: Youth Players (10+)
This drill is particularly useful for getting your players to develop the skills needed to field line-drives while using a crossover or drop step. Remember, a slow crossover step isn’t going to be very effective so it’s important to emphasize the explosiveness of the movement. For a drop step we want to eliminate backpedaling at all costs.
Setup: Setup 3 players. Player A is the thrower. Player B is there to catch the ball and Player C is the Interceptor. Player A and B are about 45-55 feet apart with Player C facing the coach about 30ft away. Player A throws a line ball towards Player B. Player C (or the interceptor) must use a crossover step or dropstep to successfully catch the ball. If the interceptor manages to catch the ball before it hits the ground, they then use a crop hop throw to return the ball back to Player A.
Depending on the age and the ability of the group, as the coach you might want to throw the balls. For older age groups however you can choose another player.
Mistakes happen. Sometimes we miss-read the bounce of the ball and sometimes we drop the ball. Revive works on these very scenarios by introducing a recovery drill to help players ‘revive’ themselves after a mistake.
Setup: This drill involves 2 players. Have each player stand about 40ft apart. To start the sequence; Player A rolls the ball out in front of them to trigger the recovery move.
Player A must get to the side of the ball, pick it up and then throw the ball to Player B. Player B then repeats the sequence.
This can be progressed to involve a 3rd player that adds more realism into the first throw and the drill can also be used with reaction balls too.
For younger players you can cut out the movement all the ball altogether and have a player move to the side of a stationary ball.
Through The Legs
This is a great fun drill that focuses on getting your young players to position themselves in front of the ball and get familiar with tracking the ball and shuffling side to side.
Setup: Coach rolls balls towards players. Players must shuffle to get in front of the ball and let the ball go through their legs.
You can progress this by getting players to work in pairs and taking turns to roll the ball towards their partners.
You could also set up markers behind the opposite player for each thrower to aim for. This progression not only helps develop the player who is tracking the ball but also works on developing the hand eye coordination of the thrower too.
Finally, once they get the hang of tracking the ball you can introduce picking up the ball up both bare hands and using gloves.
This drill’s a great one for both small and large groups. Players are encouraged to throw the ball as far as they can and use markers set out to measure the distance of their throws.
Setup: Mark out a starting throw line. And then measure upto 50 yards in distance placing a marker at each 5-10 yard interval. Players must throw the ball as far as they can and measure the distance by where the ball first bounces.
They then collect their balls. I’d recommend, if you’re coaching a large group to do this all at the same time to avoid any safety issues.
To speed up the setup phase, look at using the yard lines on a football pitch.
Ages: 7 Years +
A game that we’ve all played some variation of at some point in our lives. Wall Ball can be used to simulate different types of balls such as; line drives and short hops. It’s also can be used in large groups too as a knockout competitive game.
Setup: Start by getting your player to face a wall with a glove in hand.
They must throw the ball at the wall and then get into position to successfully catch the ball. To progress this drill a little further have a second player throw a ball at the wall to add more realism to the drill.
Get In Front
Fun drill, with the idea originally taken from ZONEDSportsAcademy.
The idea is simple; get your player to stand on a bucket or a chair to force them to stay in position and catch the ball without being scared.
By getting your player to stand on something you take away their ability to reactively move out of the way of the ball and build confidence in staying in front of the ball and their ability to catch the ball.
Setup: Get a bucket or chair and have your player stand on top. Start to throw balls to them. The player must catch the ball with their glove hand. You can progress this drill in 4 stages:
- First: Use a tennis ball: Get your player to tap the the tennis ball away using the palm of their hand with their fingers facing the sky.
- Second: Get them to progress to catching the ball with their glove hand
- Third: Use a glove
- Fourth: Progress to using a baseball
If you want to improve your fielder quickness and reaction skills – Drop Ball is a great drils to use. It can be done with 2 players or a coach and a player. For this example we’ll just call them Player A and Player B.
Setup: Setup Player A and Player B anywhere between 4-8 ft away from each other. Have player B hold a baseball out laterally by their side.
As Player A starts to move Player B drops the ball. Player A has to get to the ball before the ball drops to the floor.
There are a few other variations you could try with this drill:
- Have a third player / person say a trigger word. On the trigger word the drop starts and Player A must make the the catch
- Another variation is a question an answer game. Player B asks a simple baseball question. When Player A answers the correct answer he moves and the ball is dropped.
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