Help Your Players Prepare for Anything and to Support One Another with This Softball Fielding Drill
Infielders must be prepared to field the ball solo, but they must also work as a team. In addition, they have to be prepared for the unexpected – anything can and will happen during a live game, and you need to incorporate that element of the unexpected into your practices. The overthrow drill is a great way to do just that, while also encouraging your players to trust one another and to work as a cohesive unit.
A Look at the Drill
The point of the overthrow drill is to teach your players how to position themselves in case of a bad throw or an overthrown ball (both of which are very real possibilities in any game). It’s actually a very simple drill, but it does require that you have an actual softball field, as well as all of your players. Each player should have her glove, and you’ll need one ball (just one).
Position your players on the field in their normal positions, and give the ball to a random player. She then chooses who she wants to throw to, but she cannot throw it accurately. The player must throw the ball out of reach of the chosen fielder on purpose. This forces the player backing up the fielder to run for the ball.
Once the backup player fields the ball, she should then overthrow the ball to another player (which will be caught by that player’s backup). The drill should continue like this for as long as necessary. Every player should have at least one turn fielding and throwing, but many coaches find it helpful to run through several turns per player. The longer the drill is allowed to run, the more your players will come to appreciate the importance of being proactive backups for one another, as well as the need to pay attention and remain alert on the field. No player knows when they will be needed, so they all have to pay attention.
If you want to really mix things up, replace those standard softballs with softies or Zip Balls, and make your players leave their gloves behind. They’ll need to throw a bit softer, but this can help build better fielding focus (without the players relying on their glove to do all the work).
Tips and Tricks
While the overthrow drill is best suited for use on the field, it can be performed in other areas, so long as there is sufficient space. An indoor gym is a good location, as long as your team has it to themselves. It can also be performed in a back yard with enough room. Players will not be able to do this drill solo, but it can be performed in smaller groups (ideally, five or more players at one time).
Add It In
While the overthrow drill is an excellent option to occupy the majority of a practice session, it can also easily lead into or bookend other drills. The scatter drill is a good choice for either situation. In this companion drill, you’ll scatter a bucket full of balls around the shortstop position and in short right field. One player at a time will pick a ball with her back toward home, and then throw to either second or third base, or to home (you’ll need catchers at all three locations, of course). You (the coach) should call out where each player is to throw the ball. Run through this drill until each player has had several chances to throw the ball.
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