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Outfield Drills

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Outfield drills are some of the most difficult drills to find.  As you get familiar with the game and use your imagination, you will be able to design your own outfield drills.

OUTFIELD DRILL:

Have players stand 10-15 feet away from each other with one ball. Have player 1 throw to player 2 a med high fly ball. The purpose is for the out fielder catching the ball is 3 things.

  1. Catch the ball with 2 hands

  2. Catch the ball on teh throwing side in outstanding throwing position

  3. Most important is have the fielder already 1/2 way through his crow hop in the air as he/she catches the ball so the time it takes to get the ball in is extremely fast

KEYS

  1. You have to make the catch, have to use hands

  2. Know the situation….who’s on base, how many on base, score, how many outs, your arm strength, inning, ect.

I have been teaching this for 2 years at the HS level and teams rarely run on us because we get the ball in faster than another team in the conference.

OVER THE SHOULDER DRILL:

Out fielders have to catch balls that are thrown by another team mate or coach over their shoulder on the run.

HOP STEP THROW DRILL:

Outfielders stand 100ft. away from coach who is hitting with a fungo bat. They should be standing in a line each taking turns fielding balls that are hit to them. When they field a ball they should perform an exaggerated crow hop. Not some little wimpy hops, but ones where they get their whole bodies into the throw. They should also be able to make a decent throw to a player who is standing by the coach.

Round 1: pick up balls from ground

Round 2: field balls that are hit to them head high

Round 3: field fly balls

Coaches make sure every player get in a good crow hop!!!

LONG TOSS DRILL:

Have players get with a partner and have them stand about 250 ft. away from each other. Play catch like this for about ten minutes.

RIGHT/LEFT #1 (ZIG ZAG) DRILL:
Purpose: To work on their footwork when going back.
Equipment: Softballs and a glove for each player
Procedure:

  1. Coach has the balls.

  2. Players are lined up about 15 feet in front of coach.

  3. The players watch the coaches arm, as she moves it to the right.

  4. The players drop steps and goes right, then as she moves it to the left, the players drops and goes left.

  5. Coach throws a fly ball that the player can run under and catch.

  6. The next player in line does the same thing.

  7. This drill should be performed for a prescribed period of time or a designated number of repetitions.

Coaching Points: Emphasize strong, accurate throws. Emphasize getting around the ball into a good throwing position. Emphasize drop setting properly.

COMMUNICATION DRILL:
Purpose: To work on communication among the fielders.
Equipment: Softballs, a bate and a glove for each of the players
Procedures:

  1. Have the fielders take their positions.

  2. The coach will hit fly balls between the fielders that are catchable.

  3. The players will call the ball and if they do not catch it back up the other player.

  4. This drill should be performed for a prescribed period of time or a designated number of repetitions.

Coaching Points: Emphasize strong, accurate throws. Emphasize getting around the ball into a good throwing position. Emphasize calling the ball early and backing up each other.

LONG THROWS:
Purpose: To work on the arm position and release point.
Equipment: Softball and a glove for each player
Procedure:

  1. Have the players with a partner and a ball.

  2. They start on one knee and close together.

  3. Start off throwing the ball lightly, then move back as they start to warm up.

  4. Eventually, they will be on their feet throwing the ball a fair distance to their partner.

  5. This drill should be performed for a prescribed period of time or a designated number of repetitions.

Coaching Points: Emphasize the release point. Emphasize the long arm.

CLOCKWORK
One drill I use with outfielders is called “clockwork”.

A cutoff-approx. 50 ft. from the catcher. And 5 or 6 outfielders-each spread out from right to left, approx. 50 ft. from cutoff. I start be hitting a ball to the girl farthest left, she throws to cutoff, cutoff throws home. After throwing to cut of the fielder then runs to take her spot, the cutoff after throwing home, runs home to become catcher, and the catcher is to run to the open spot in the outfield. In a short amount of time fielders get to field in all outfield positions,work on throws, and get some conditioning.

CONES
Set out some small cones in an arc in the outfield and then hit grounders to the outfielders. They must round the cones before reaching the ball. This teaches them to go to the path of the ball and not directly at the ball.

FOOTBALL FLYS
This drill has worked well for youth (U12). In order to have them practice catching running fly balls over the shoulder we use soft footballs.

They run out like a football receiver from the coach. The coach throws the football and they have to catch it over their right shoulder or left shoulder using both hands up and bringing in the ball. They cannot turn around and back up. This helps with hand-eye coordination also. After several successful catches we put their gloves on and they catch the football with the glove on. They always use both hands. After more successful catches we move to the softball.

This drill is fun and has really improved out fly ball catches.

OUTFIELD FLY
There is a drill I have been using for the past 3 years for outfielders. Place half the team in left field and the rest in center. The coaches hit a flyball in between the first two outfielders.

They both go for the ball with one catching it and the other properly backing up the fielder. If the ball happens to get by both fielders then they will use a relay throw to get the ball back to the coach.

This drill has helped greatly in backing up on all balls, and easy to do before games.

OVER-THE-HEAD
Have the players line up and have one of them selected to field a ball hit over her head. Hit or throw the ball over her head and to the right or left. Make sure that she does not run with her glove up, but rather put the glove down and run to catch the ball and then get her glove up and make the catch.

Also, when doing these drills, make sure the fielder catches the ball in front or to her throwing side so she can make a quick release of the ball to an infielder.

STAR
My name is Kate Earnest and I play for Galloway High School. I attended a fastpitch camp this summer and one of the drills that we learned was the star drill for the outfielders.

The fielder stands about 20 yards away from the thrower. The fielder runs to the right and makes the catch, then drops the ball and hauls it over to the far left, makes the catch,drops the ball, then runs away from the thrower for the long ball, catches it, drops it, and runs straight towards the thrower for the shallow ball and that’s it.

OUTFIELD COMMUNICATION
This drill is done with everyone, but the main intent is for outfield and communication.

We have all of the athletes make two lines about 100 feet apart. We then throw a ball in the air. We make the players call ball by yelling ball, ball, ball, and then we have the other players acknowledge by saying you, you, you. This does two things. First, it reduces injury and makes sure the ball is going to be caught. Secondly, it gives the athlete confidence to catch the ball with the acknowledgement of the other player.

Both of the players go hard to the ball at all times until one finally calls for it and the other acknowledges. This communications is essential for confidence and reduction of injury. We also tell the athletes to never acknowledge until the ball is called. In other words, do not say you, you, you until someone calls for the ball. We don’t want a player making a decision for another.

BASEBALL OUTFIELD DRILL
Have players stand 10-15 feet away from each other with one ball. Have player 1 throw to player 2 a med high fly ball. The purpose is for the out fielder catching the ball is 3 things.

  1. Catch the ball with 2 hands

  2. Catch the ball on teh throwing side in outstanding throwing position

  3. Most important is have the fielder already 1/2 way through his crow hop in the air as he/she catches the ball so the time it takes to get the ball in is extremely fast

KEYS

  1. You have to make the catch, have to use hands

  2. Know the situation….who’s on base, how many on base, score, how many outs, your arm strength, inning, ect.

I have been teaching this for 2 years at the HS level and teams rarely run on us because we get the ball in faster than another team in the conference.

INCOMING LINE DRIVES
A very difficult play for outfielders is charging and catching a screaming line drive. Depending on the spin of the ball, the ball may dive, sail, or even knuckle. As an outfielder approaches a low line drive, it is often advantageous to slide to keep the ball closer to eye level.

To execute this drill, the coach takes a knee with a bucket of balls directly in front of him. The outfielders are lined up about 30 feet out in front of the coach. On the coaches ‘go’ signal, the first player sprints to you and begins a slide (to your side), just before they reach you. A slide here is identical to a slide into a base… feet first with one leg tucked under. As the player begins to slide, the coach should toss a ball into the air (straight up, 2 to 3 feet) to your side. The player is then to slide underneath the ball and make the catch.

Certainly, you can take this drill and make some variations to make it more difficult for older athletes. We make this drill a little more fun every once in a while and wet the grass so the players will slide longer and faster.

MONKEY IN THE MIDDLE
A good drill for outfielders is what I call “Monkey in the Middle.” You need four outfielders lined up in a row. The two inside men are the ones who start the drill and are the cutoff men. The two outside men are the outfielders. The drill uses one ball and a continuous ball movement from outfielder to infielder, back to outfielder and finally returning to the infielder.

To start the drill one of the inside men will throw a ground ball or fly ball to the outfielder on his side. As the outfielder gets ready to catch the ball, the inside man who threw the ball gets in position as the cutoff man. The outfielder catches the ball and throws through the man who started it to the other inside man (throwing through the cutoff man). Once the second inside man catches the ball from the far side outfielder, he turns and does the same thing to the outfielder on his side. You keep doing this until the coach says stop.

Things to look for in this drill are the outfielders getting into proper position as they field the ball, using a proper crow hop, their throwing mechanics, and height of the ball on the throw. Every once in awhile either the coach or one of the inside men can yell “Cut” to make sure the outfielder is throwing a ball that can be cut off. Then have the guys switch positions and the inside men can go to the outfielders positions and outfielders can go to the inside positions. After you have developed better arm strength you can move this drill to the football field to get longer throws.

OH-MAN!
This is a combination drill. The drill works on position for the fly ball, footwork, throwing, picking up the ball in flight, speed, hitting the cutoff, and throwing accuracy.

The drill starts with a coach, a bucket of balls (at least 8), a catcher, and a cutoff man (Coaches may fill in these roles also). The rest of the players line up at or close to the outfield fence (usually left center or right center). The cutoff man goes to his regular position (ss or 2nd).

The object is for the outfielder to actually place the ball in the catchers glove at home plate with out making a single miscue of either throwing or catching. The key is accuracy of the coach that is hitting with the fungo.

Note: On smaller fields the coaches may throw the ball instead of hitting, this works very well for the younger players.

The coach will hit/or throw the first ball in the air high and long. The player should not have to move much. The player uses proper technique in catching then throws the ball to the cutoff man. Before the ball has left the fielders hand, the coach will throw another ball (throws or hits it), but this time it is not quite so high and shorter in length. Now the player must be on the move to catch the ball. Again, after he catches the ball, he must hit the cutoff man and continue moving towards home plate. Once again, before the ball leaves the fielder hands, another ball is on the way being a line drive or a short hop. Determined by the players position on the field, the player fields the ball and throws to either the catcher or the cutoff man. The player needs to keep moving toward the catcher at the highest rate of speed, but yet still under control. The coach keeps hitting ground balls to the player and now the player should be on the dirt infield and throwing the ball to the catcher, still moving forward until he places it in the catchers glove.

This drill can be modified for strict or lenient guidelines as to throwing accuracy. But, if the player misses just one ball…then to the back of the line and “OH-MAN” he/she has to do it again.

The drill is fun and the kids enjoy it. As the kids get better (and the coaches hitting accuracy) we hit balls faster and harder and tighten up the guidelines to throwing accuracy. I have used this drill for ages 8 to 18.

PLAY 500
During mid season when all your offense and defense’s are installed and your practices are basic maintenance, a good competitive drill for the outfielders is called “500”. It combines as many skills as you want as well as being fun for the players. We usually break it down into 2 days so the drill itself doesn’t get too repetitive.

On day 1 the four skills are ground balls to the left and right around cones, line drives and fly balls against the fence. On day 2 it is deep fly ball to the left and right, do – or – dies and sliding catches.If the player does the skill correctly and completes the play then they get 25 points. If they don’ t execute the skill correctly or don’t complete the play then they get a -25 points. If a player makes a spectacular play on the sliding catch, for instance, the then coach can give them an extra 5 to 10 points.

You can obviously use any combination of skills that you want for any of the positions. I suggest that you include at least one skill that is fun for the players like the sliding catch drill. We usually let the 1st and 2nd place winners choose their field cleanup chore. When we do this drill the other position players can also be “playing” this drill.

It is a great drill because we can get something productive done and the players don’t get bored.

STRIDE DRILL
The Stride Drill is primarily focused on the ability of the fielder to catch balls on a dead sprint.

Have your fielders line up about 40 or so feet out in front of you and about 40 or so feet to the left (or right). You will have three balls in your hands, and at your “go”, the first athlete in line will sprint on a line that is parallel to you. You as the coach then get to play QB. You try to lead the athlete by throwing balls so they can catch them on the run. Tell your fielder that as they catch the ball, to just drop it immediately and find and react to the next ball which you will throw as they drop the previous ball. Do about 3 balls, if you do any more they end up getting too far away from you. Of course you can vary the distances . Then have them sprint back to pick the three balls up and bring them back to you and form another line on the right side (or left depending on which side you start from).

What I like to have them do, is to do about 3 or four of these as a group and then I tell them that I am going to challenge them. So when I throw the 3rd ball, I am going to try to throw it so they have to dive for it. The kids stop thinking they are tired and try to make a great play… its fun for them and they get a good workout in the interem.

At younger levels this is a great tool because a player’s coordination is beginning to gel and it is difficult to run and do anything else at the same time. Youth coaches will relate that the younger kids have a hard time with their point of focus bouncing up and down as they run. This drill helps players to become more comfortable.

TAG-UP THROW DRILL
This teaches the outfielder the proper step forward as he catches the ball as well as practice the correct fundamentals of throwing.

Procedure:Put a runner on second or third base. The outfielders will be in their outfield positions and coach stands behind second base throwing fly-balls in all directions and telling them what the situation is and where the throws should go. The outfielders should try to attempt to get behind the ball with their drop-step and throw to the right base. Remember, if he throws with his right hand he will be stepping forward with his right foot as he catches the ball and vice-versa if he is left-handed.

This drill provides the necessary momentum and arm-leg coordination needed to make the throw strong and accurate without wasting to much time with additional steps.

THE BOUNCE
This is used to develop the outfielders ability to throw low and put the correct backspin on the ball and to throw overhand.

Procedure: The outfielders can pair-off and face each other about 100-125 feet apart. Each pair has ball to bounce back and forth to each other to see who can get the longest bounce. Remember to have them check their throws, if the ball goes left or right after the bounce, they are not throwing overhand or keeping their fingers on top of the ball. They want to achieve backspin on the ball.

As they develop, they can gradually move out to about 175-200 feet.

THE REBOUND
This will help develop the skill of fielding a ball that hit the fence, then turning toward their the gloved hand and throwing 100-125 feet to a relay man with no bounce.

Procedure: Have the players form a single line, the first person becomes the fielder and a coach or the second person in line throws the ball past the fielder up against the fence. The play is made, then the second person in line becomes the fielder and the original fielder goes to the end of the line.

Remember to check if the fielder is turning toward the gloved hand and that the throws are at head height. Make sure their arms are warmed up and in condition and don’t let them make to many throws unless there as some rest in between.

ATTACK THE BALL…
When the ball is dead, and not moving…attack the ball. So, when you pick it up you are in throwing position.

Note: Push the ball into the ground when picking it up. It lessens the chance of the ball slipping out of your hand. A bonus is….picking up the baseball with a 4-seam grip.

OUTFIELDER’S STAY LOOSE
When outfielders have been standing around quite a while due to an “infield game”, timeouts (injury or otherwise), pitching changes, etc., they run the risk of hurting their arm if they have to really uncork a throw.

I have coached them to hold their glove in their throwing hand and do arm rotations and simulate throws. The weight of the glove helps to provide some muscle resistance and keeps things warm and stretched out. They also keep their legs warm by jogging in place and doing some light stretching.

All of this helps to reduce injury when they are involved in an outfield play.

Just a note; be sure to have your pitchers check and signal all fielders before pitching.



Summary
Outfield Drills
Article Name
Outfield Drills
Description
Outfield drills are hard to find as we all know. Here is a compiled group of drills that you can use right away.
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Publisher Name
Softball Tutor
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