Teach Your Players to Move Fast and Field Accurately with this Softball Fielding Drill
The loop drill teaches speed, fielding accuracy, throwing and helps build stamina. However, it’s a complex drill that does require a full softball field. As such, it’s not one that can be adapted to solo or two-player practice off the field. With that being said, it’s an excellent way to help get your players moving faster and fielding more accurately.
A Look at the Drill
You’ll need the coach (you), a bat, and at least two softballs (a bucket of balls is better). You’ll also need someone to play catcher at first base. Line your fielders up in foul territory behind third base, and place a ball in the pitcher’s circle (just set it down – you don’t need a player here).
To begin, you will hit a ground ball to the first player in line behind third base. She will field it, and throw it to the player at first base. Once thrown, the player must run to the pitcher’s circle, retrieve the ball there and throw it to first base as well. Finally, she should loop around second base and take up the shortstop position before you hit another ball.
Next, the fielder fields the ball and throws it to home plate, while the catcher rolls a ball to the charging fielder, who scoops it up and throws it to first base (this is the last throw of the player’s turn – she should move to the next position). You’ll rotate through each player in line, giving each one the opportunity to go through the entire drill. Each time a player completes the drill, she moves to the first base position, and the previous first base player moves to the catcher’s position. The catcher moves to the back of the line.
Change Things Up
The goal of the drill as outlined above is to hit groundballs to each player, helping her build her fielding skills. However, you can change things up a bit to keep your players on their toes. Start off hitting smooth groundballs that roll easily on the field, but once each player has gone through the drill, change things up a bit. Rather than smooth grounders, hit rough ground balls that bounce several times on the way to the player. This helps teach the importance of keeping her eye on the ball, and improves performance.
You can also add penalties to the game to increase the stakes. Any player who misses the ball (whether smooth or rough bouncing ground balls) should be penalized. Failure to throw accurately to first base should also be penalized. Penalties can be virtually anything you want, but it’s a good idea to keep those penalties fun. Rather than running laps or sitting out their next turn, have players juggle three softballs, or run a ball from home to third base as fast as possible within 30 seconds. It’s really up to you. Penalizing players reinforces the importance of the skills being taught, but you don’t want to take the fun out of practice or the game.
Tips and Tricks
With a little ingenuity, this drill can be combined with others, including the popup fly ball drill that teaches players to overcome their fear of colliding with an obstacle while fielding popup balls. Simply hit the ball toward the fence and have the player field the ball there rather than at third base. The rest of the drill will remain the same. The increased throwing and running distances will help build endurance, stamina and accuracy.