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05/25/2021

Best Baseball & Softball Drills

Practice makes perfect. You likely know the adage, but most people don’t realize that it’s what you practice is what you perfect. Which makes it even more important to know the best practice drills for baseball and softball players. We’re talking about the drills that can elevate your game to the next level.

In the past, we’ve discussed the tips to become a better fielder, but today, we’re going to give you the top fielding drills to use at practice. We’ve enlisted help from professional softball player AJ Andrews. Andrews played her college ball at LSU, and while playing professionally, she became the first female to ever win a Rawlings Gold Glove Award. As a bonus, we’ve thrown in our four favorite youth baseball practice ideas to help coaches plan their following drills.

Drill #1 - First Step

What you need for the drill:

  • 4 Cones
  • 1 Ball
  • 1 Tosser

Play faster. Use your feet to track down fly balls—set up your cone in a diamond shape with each equidistant from one another. Start your player in the middle of the cones and have a coach or teammate toss baseballs/softballs in the air to each cone. The player performing the drill should drive off their first step, get around the cone, and square up their body to throw the ball back to the infield. As players become more comfortable with the drill and footwork, begin throwing the next fly ball earlier to require faster reflexes and better footwork. It’s a great baseball drill to improve any outfielders’ game.

Drill #2 - Working Around the Ball

What you need for the drill:

  • 2 Cones
  • 1 Ball
  • 1 Tosser

Similar to the previous drill, this requires minimal equipment and only one other person to help assist. Stagger the two cones a few paces apart with the backmost cone about 45 degrees behind the front cone. Change the side of the back cone (left or right) after a few reps to ensure you’re proficient in going in both directions. 

The player will drop step around the cone and begin to charge the ball in a controlled manner to start the drill. The tosser will either roll the ball (ground ball practice) or throw it in the air (fly ball practice), and the player will be forced to react. If a player gets around the cone too fast, make sure they stutter step to keep their feet moving and the momentum working forward. The player should always finish each play gathering into their throwing motion. To increase the challenge of the drill, move the tosser back and have the player do everything once the ball is thrown/hit.

Drill #3 - How to Dive

What you need for the drill:

  • 1 Cone
  • 1 Ball
  • 1 Tosser

Let’s learn how to make a spectacular diving catch. Start by having the player begin on their knees. Toss the ball in the air about 2-3 feet in front of them. Without moving their legs, have the player fall forward onto their chest while extending only their glove out in front of their body. Their throwing hand should be bracing for the impact of the ground. Extend far and try to land flat as you catch the ball. AJ also points out that you want to catch the ball as low to the ground as possible. This will minimize the impact of your glove to the ground while also providing more time for you to get to the ball, which ultimately extends your range.

Once the player(s) grows more comfortable with this diving drill, have them squat like a catcher before you begin the drill. Throw the ball 4-5 feet from their body and have them slide across the ground to catch the ball. Avoid landing on their knees and work on getting as long as possible. The better they get at this, the more highlight plays they’ll make!

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4 Youth Baseball Drills

It can be challenging to develop engaging drills for t-ball, coach pitch, or machine pitch baseball players. But it’s not impossible! We’ve talked to coaches and parents about the best baseball drills for young baseball players. Master these top practice ideas, and your team and players will be well on their way to the big leagues (or at least kid pitch.) 

Youth Baseball Drill #1 - “Big Gator”

(The whole team)

The idea here is to get BIG, spread out, athletic legs, and then GATOR CHOMP the ground with your glove and throwing hand. Take two steps forward and repeat. This drill is best run from one base to another with ~10 feet between players. It practices being athletic defensively while instilling correct muscle memory as each player goes to field a ball. After a few minutes of working without a ball, start rolling baseballs to players and field them with their “gator” mechanics.

Youth Baseball Drill #2 - Knockout 

(Groups of 3 or 4) 

Line up the players on the foul lines, standing next to each other. Have a coach stand ~20 feet back in a central position to each player. Give the coach one/two baseballs. Have the players get in the ready position before randomly rolling the baseball(s) to players. As the players begin consistently succeeding, increase the rate of the ground balls and the speed they are thrown. When done correctly, this will engage the players in what is essentially ground ball practice. In the end, you can play a game where a missed ground ball eliminates each player until only one remains. 

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Youth Baseball Drill #3 - Relays 

(Groups of 3 - 6) 

Line each player up about 30 feet apart (this will vary based on skill level) in a straight line. Only give each group one ball. Starting at the end, have player A throw to player B to player C, and so on. Make sure to point out how throwing to teammates is the solution to cover a significant distance in a short amount of time. Give them about 5 minutes to practice. Then, all starting at the same time, start the race. Each team member must be sitting down at the end to qualify for the win. This can be an exciting competition, as well as a valuable drill & learning tool. 

Youth Baseball Drill #4 - Simulated Game 

(Base Defense & 2 or 3 Runners) 

Have two or three players run the bases for different scenarios as you hit balls to the defense. Always start a runner at home. Have them run as if it is a live game. You can even put two coaches at 1st and 3rd and treat it like a game. There is tremendous value in engaging a player by baserunning like a real game. But more importantly, fielders will get a chance to see the game’s motion, time-after-time, which can help slow down the “chaos” and begin to spark pre-pitch anticipation. Plus, it’s just more fun. Make sure to rotate players around often. 

We certainly hope these baseball drills and softball drills will help grow your game. If you are new to the blog, we thank you for stopping by. 

A bit about us, we’re JustGloves, and we love every sport played on a diamond. If you’re looking for a new glove for baseball, fastpitch, or slow pitch softball, we’ve got you covered. And if you’re needing to ask some questions, be sure to hit up our Glove Experts. It’s all part of us being with you from Click to Catch!

 

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