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Outfield Drills

Price: $0.00

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SIDELINE TO SIDELINE

PURPOSE

To improve conditioning and to work on catching the ball out in front on the glove and nonglove side.

ORGANIZATION

A coach with a bucket of balls faces a line of outfielders on the left-field sideline.

EXECUTION

The First fielder steps up to the sideline.  She begins running to catch a coach tossed fly ball in left field.  She makes the catch and throws the ball back to the coach (or to a player standing next to the coach).  She then runs to centerfield to catch another tossed fly ball; again, she makes the catch and throws the ball in.  She then proceeds to right field and repeats the process.  After throwing the ball in, she jogs around the outfield, returns to the left-field line, and takes her place at the end of the line of players.  The next player then steps up and performs the drill.  After several repetitions for each player from the left-field line, the outfielders move to the right-field line to run the same drill.

VARIATIONS

This drill can be done with ground balls or without a throw in from the fielder.  It can also be done in a smaller area or even in a gym.

COACHING POINTS

Watch for proper mechanics on the catch and throw.  Outfielders should sprint to get ahead of the ball and watch it into their glove.

 

LOOP

PURPOSE

To help players improve at fielding line drives on the run.

ORGANIZATION

You’ll need two coaches (or tossers), two buckets of balls, two empty buckets, and two lines of players

EXECUTION

A coach tosses a line drive to the first player in line.  The player sprints to catch the ball, makes the play, and continues running to the other line, where she puts the ball into the bucket and takes her place at the end of the line.

VARIATIONS

Position the line of players on the other side of the tossers so they can catch balls on both the nonglove and glove side.  Add throws from the fielder to the coach (or a player standing next to the coach).  This can be done indoors or outdoors.

COACHING POINTS

Make sure outfielders are sprinting to the ball and not “timing” their catches.  Each outfielder should catch the ball out in front of her body and watch the ball into her glove.

 

ZIG ZAG

PURPOSE

To learn to use the drop step properly and practice changing directions while keeping eyes on the ball.

ORGANIZATION

A coach is behind 2B with a bucket of balls; a line of players is behind the coach.  One player steps out and faces the coach.

EXECUTION

Facing the player, the coach holds up a ball and points it to either the left or right.  The player drop steps in that direction.  The coach then holds the ball on the other side so that the player changes direction using a drop step.  The coach changes direction one more time; the player drop steps and changes direction.  The coach then throws a fly ball in that direction for the player to catch; the player makes the catch and then gets into position to throw back to the next player in line by the coach.  She then takes her place at the end of the line, and the next player steps out.

VARIATIONS

This drill can be done in a small space or a gym.  You can have players change directions as many times as you like.  You could also do a blind drop step on a ball that’s thrown farther away from the fielder on the last change of direction.  (A blind drop step is turning your back on the ball and finding it after it has been thrown.)

COACHING POINTS

The goal is to execute a proper drop step and hustle to get behind the ball so it can be caught as a routine fly ball.  Getting into position to make a good throw is key.  Players also need to keep their eyes on the ball.

 

T

PURPOSE

To work on conditioning in position using proper technique and mechanics.

ORGANIZATION

A line of fielders stands behind a coach who is near 2B with a bucket of balls.  Three players are needed in the field.:  one playing 2B, one at SS, and one near the coach to field throws.  All other fielders are in the line facing the coach.

EXECUTION

A player steps out of line to face the coach.  The coach says, “Go!” and the player turns and runs straight out to catch a ball that the coach tosses over her head.  She catches the ball and throws it to the player near the coach.  She then runs to her right to catch another tossed ball, which she throws to the player at SS.  She then runs to the left to catch a ball tossed to her left; she throws this ball to the fielder playing 2B.  She then runs back to the point where she fielded the first ball over her head, and the coach tosses a slow grounder for her to charge, pick up, and run back to the coach.  She then takes the place of one of the fielders, and the next player in line steps out.

VARIATIONS

You can do this drill with a fly ball over the head followed by a line drive to the left or right or balls over the shoulder to the left and right.  This drill can be done in a gym or a small area as long as there’s enough room for fielders to use proper technique.  The drill can also be done without throws to a receiver, or throws can be to a target if other players aren’t available.

COACHING POINTS

Make sure players are using proper technique.  Hustle is the key.  Beating the ball allows the fielder to be more successful.  Make sure throws are accurate and that the player always comes back to the point where she made the first catch over her head.

 

AROUND THE CONES

PURPOSE

To work on speed and getting behind a ground ball to field it properly and make a good throw to a receiver or target.

ORGANIZATION

You need two cones and a coach with a bucket of balls.  The coach is at 3B.  A single-file line of outfielders is on the left-field sideline.  One cone is about 10 feet directly in front of the line of fielders, and the other is 10 feet to the right of the first one.

EXECUTION

The first fielder takes off toward the cone directly in front of her.  The coach tosses a ball slightly to the right of the cone so that the fielder goes around the cone before catching it.  She returns the ball to the coach (or to a player near the coach who’s fielding throws).  The fielder then continues to go around the other cone and catches another tossed ball from the coach.  She throws it back and jogs back to the end of the line.  The next player in line begins.  After several repetitions, the line starts on the other side of the cones.

VARIATIONS

You can run this drill in a gym or smaller area, and you can go without the throws by the fielder.  If you use one cone instead of two, players can stay on that side of the cone and create a new line coming back from the other direction for the next round.  You can run this drill with ground balls just as easily as fly balls and line drives.

COACHING POINTS

Watch for proper footwork.  Sprinting to get to the ball and, after the catch, planting to make a balanced, accurate throw is essential. 

 

BALLS IN BETWEEN

PURPOSE

To work on playing team defense in the outfield; to practice taking charge and communicating; to learn to recognize who has the best angle for a throw to a base; to train or practice proper back-up technique.

ORGANIZATION

Two lines of fielders stand at centerfield and left field.  The coach is behind 2B with a bucket of balls.  A fielder is at the2B position with an empty bucket to receive thrown balls.

EXECUTION

The first player in each line steps up.  The coach hits or throws a ball in between them, either on the ground or in the air.  If the ball is thrown on the ground, one fielder calls for the ball while taking an angle to cut the ball off, while the other fielder becomes a backup.  The fielder who fields the ball makes a throw to 2B, simulating an attempt to get a base runner trying to stretch a single into a double.  If the ball is thrown in the air, one fielder calls it and simulates throwing to catch a runner tagging up at 1B.  Players switch lines after going for the ball or backing up.

VARIATIONS

This drill can be done with fielders in center and right field or just two lines the same distance apart (if space allows) as those in the two outfield positions.  The drill can also be run in a gym with less distance between but still using the skills of cutting a ball off,

backing up, and getting into proper position to make a throw to a specified receiver or target.  If you choose to do fly balls in between, make sure fielders decide who will take the high level and who will take the low level in case they have to dive for the ball.

COACHING POINTS

Communication is key in this drill.  Watch for players taking the proper angle to the ball.  Getting on balance and making a good throw after changing direction is also important.

 

BACKUP

PURPOSE

To work on outfielders making adjustments to the angle and speed of throws to infielders when the outfielder is acting as a backup; to back up outfielders and infielders on hit balls.

ORGANIZATION

Use a standard field setup with a team defense in place.  A coach hits situational fungos for players to field.  A pitcher pitches balls to the catcher, but these balls are not swung at.

EXECUTION

The coach designates where throws should go when a ball gets hit to each position.  The pitcher throws a specific pitch, just as in a game.  The coach fungos a ball into the field as though he or she has hit the pitch.  The catcher catches the pitch and tosses the ball off to the side, out of the way.  If the fungoed ball goes into the outfield, the outfielder purposely misses the ball, and the outfielder backing her up makes the play and throws to the designated location.  If the ball gets hit into the infield, the fielder misses the ball purposely, and the outfielder backs her up and makes the play.  Subsequent balls hit into the infield will be fielded by the infielder, who throws to the designated base.  The receiver intentionally misses the throw, and the backup makes the proper play.  If the ball is hit into the outfield, an outfielder fields it and makes a throw to the designated base.  Again, the receiver intentionally misses the throw, and the backup (could be an infielder) makes the play.

VARIATIONS

You can have as many intentionally missed throws as you like to asses every play that could possibly happen as a backup.  You may also add base runners.

COACHING POINTS

Proper backup procedures can save a game.  Stress the recognition of the proper angle to back up and the differences in speed and distance of thrown balls to the bases.  The speed of hit balls also needs to be read properly to give the player enough room to be an effective backup.

 

ONLY LINE OF DEFENSE

PURPOSE

To practice seeing the ball off the bat and getting a good jump on the ball

ORGANIZATION

Use a standard field setup with one outfielder in each outfield position.  You’ll need a pitching machine for this drill.  No infielders are needed.

EXECUTION
Have hitters take turns hitting sacrifice fly balls off the pitching machine.  Outfielders will make the plays and toss caught balls to a shagger behind 2B.  The number of repetitions will depend on the number of outfielders available and what they need to work on.  After a set number of reps, substitute the first three outfielders with others.

VARIATIONS

Add players at 2B and 3B to practice throws with base runners.  If you have several outfielders, put two outfielders in each position; whoever gets the best jump on the ball gets to make the play.  This makes the drill more competitive.  You can also do this drill during live batting practice.

COACHING POINTS

Emphasize good communication and reading the ball off the bat.  Make sure that the outfielder who’s not catching the ball becomes a proper back up.  Players hustling back into helps the drill run smoothly.  If you add a throw with base runners, the quality of reps is more important than the quantity.

 

AT THE FENCE

PURPOSE

To help outfielders get more comfortable playing at or near the fence; to work on preventing balls from going over the fence.

ORGANIZATION

You’ll need a bucket of balls.  As the drill progresses, a coach and someone to catch throws from a group of outfielders should be included in the setup.  Run this drill at the warning track at the fence.

EXECUTION

Each outfield has a ball for self-toss.  Each outfield finds enough space to self-toss a ball to go for at the fence.  After they’re comfortable with this, have each outfielder make a self-tossed catch at the fence, one at a time.  After they catch their self-toss, they throw to a receiver in a relay position.  Now a coach tosses a fly ball to the player close to the fence; she catches it and makes a throw, either to a relay person or to a base.  The final progression is to have a coach fungo a fly ball; the fielder catches it, makes a throw, and goes to the end of the line so the next fielder can start.

VARIATIONS

On each of the three phases, the player may or may not make a throw.  If you want to make sure the fungo balls are consistent, use a machine to shoot the balls to a specific area.

COACHING POINTS

Plays at the fence don’t occur frequently, but when they do occur, the ball must be caught to prevent a big hit.  Watch for good communication skills and field awareness among your outfielders.  You might need to make sure fielders are using proper technique before adding balls to the drill.  Stress safety – you don’t want players getting reckless near the fence.

FIELDING THREE WAYS

PURPOSE

To work on using a knee-down and staggered-feet technique for fielding a ground ball, depending on the speed of the ball.

ORGANIZATION
A coach with a bucket of balls either throws or hits ground balls to one fielder at a time.  The coach is at 2B; fielders are lined up in centerfield.

EXECUTION

One player steps up and faces the coach.  The coach either hits or throws a slow-moving ground ball to the fielder, who uses either a glove-leg forward stagger or a throwing-leg forward stagger to field a slow-moving ground ball and makes a throw back to either the coach or a designated receiver.  The fielder then backpedals or sprints back to her original position.  The coach now throws or hits a hard ground ball.  The fielder uses the “knee down” technique to make sure the ball doesn’t get by her; she then makes an easy throw back in to the coach (simulating a situation in which the runner is not advancing).  The coach then hits or throws a slow-moving ground ball, and the fielder uses whichever technique they did not use on the first ball to field a slow-mover.  She then makes a throw back to 2B.  The fielder runs to the end of the line, and the next player begins the drill.

VARIATIONS

Draw colored dots on the ball to make sure the fielders can call out the color as they are fielding the ball; this will encourage the athletes to watch the ball and track it all the way into the glove.  The throws can be made to bases other than 2B after fielding the ball.  Add runners to the drill if you wish.  If you’re doing the drills indoors, use softer balls.  Eliminate the throws if limited space makes throwing dangerous.

COACHING POINTS

The outfield is the last line of defense.  This drill must be done correctly and intensely.  Watching the ball into the glove and the accuracy of the throws can make the difference in whether a runner is safe or out.  Use this drill to help your fielders learn to recognize which fielding technique is best for them to use in a given situation.

 

OFF THE FENCE

PURPOSE

To learn to read how a ball will come off a sideline or home run fence and play it appropriately; to work on keeping a runner from advancing an extra base because of a misplayed ball.

ORGANIZATION

You’ll need a bucket of balls and two empty buckets.  Two lines of outfielders line up in centerfield and left field.  A coach has a bucket of balls behind 2B.  Players are stationed at 2B and 3B with empty buckets, ready to receive throws from the outfield.

EXECUTION

The first player in each line steps into center and left field positions.  The coach hits or throws a ball into the air or on the ground into the left centerfield fence.  Both players go for the ball.  One calls for the ball while the other communicates where to make the throw.  The outfielder who calls for the ball takes the proper angle off the fence to put herself in the best position to make a throw to that base.  After completing the throw, players switch lines so they have the chance to field from both positions.

VARIATIONS

This drill can be done with right fielders and centerfielders.  Add relay players if you want to work on relay throws.  You can also do this drill on a sideline fence (simulating an overthrow from the infield).  If you use base runners, make sure fielders are aware of the speed of the runners.  This drill can be done in a gym, using the walls to get an angle.  The throws might be shorter, but the footwork and technique are the same.

COACHING POINTS

Outfielders should focus on clear communication and playing the best angle possible to be on balance for a good throw to the designated base.  If using base runners, the fielder not fielding the ball should take a peek at the runner to communicate what base to throw to and get into position to back up the fielder as she fields the ball off the fence.