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Thursday, June 10, 2010

My Favorite Team Fielding Drill - Catching the Fun of Baseball

My Favorite Team Fielding Drill - Catching the Fun of Baseball
By Jack Perconte

As every baseball coach and parent knows, kids love to hit and pitch. Getting players to practice these skills is relatively easy. However, many youth ball players do not enjoy working on their fielding nearly as much as they do their hitting and throwing. Of course, fielding often requires a great amount of physical exertion, which is why players do not enjoy working on it as much. As I continually tell young players, there is only one designated hitter in a game and that position is usually reserved for a power hitting player who has little mobility. This is especially true of teams at the high school level. Therefore, it is important for young baseball players to learn, work at and practice fielding as much as the other parts of their game.

Good coaches have a way of teaching the game where players do not realize how much and how long they are even working at a skill. They make practice fun and challenging at the same time, where kids do not even realize they may be getting tired or bored. Additionally and most important, players are learning the fundamentals as well as the language of the game. Following is one of those drills that is fun and challenging, where coaches can get a good 10 to 15 minutes of good work and much repetition for their team without players getting bored. It is one of my favorite defensive baseball drills for teams.

I call it the "players teaching players ground ball drill." It goes like this: Divide players into two groups and line them up one behind the other. Set each group about forty to fifty feet apart. One ball is used and the drill gets started by one of the players at the beginning of the line rolling the ball to the player at the beginning of the opposite line. After releasing the ball the player runs to the back of the line where he rolled the ball to (opposite group) - however when he releases the ball he is expected to yell out (to the player he is rolling the ball to) a fielding instruction, beginning with "Stay Down."

Easy enough - after everyone has gone through a few times with each player yelling stay down as he releases the ball, the coach then instructs players to yell "Stay Down, Line It Up" the next round. After a few rounds the coach adds a new instruction for kids to yell to their teammate as they release the ball - "Stay Down, Line It Up, Two Hands "- is the next instruction. The next would be "Stay Down, Line It Up, Two Hands, Look It In." The last one for kids to yell would be "Stay Down, Line It Up, Two Hands, Look It In, Get Rid of It." By the end, as you would guess, kids are all tongue tied, confused, and laughing as they attempt to say all those things as they are rolling the ball to their teammate. Remember, players take off running to the back of the opposite line after rolling and while yelling out instructions.

Of course, the point of the drill is that kids are learning the correct fundamentals and baseball terminology as well as helping players perform the correct fielding basics. Coaches are there to make sure that the fielders are fielding the ball correctly and should stand at the back of the lines so they can inform players of what they may be doing wrong, and what to try when their turn comes up again. Finally, coaches can have players doing this drill for different types of ground balls - slow, fast, left right, bare hand plays, glove only, etc... This drill can even be adapted to fly ball drills, too.

Former major league baseball player, Jack Perconte gives baseball hitting tips and batting practice advice for ballplayers of all ages. His baseball playing lessons, books and advice can be found at Jack is the author of two books, The Making of a Hitter and Raising an Athlete - his positive parenting advice and books can be found at

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Hello Baseball Friend,
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Have a great day, Nick