Winning baseball games requires good hitting and good defense. If a batting lineup has power gaps, or the bottom of the batting order is weak, team hitting needs to be improved. In the meantime, games can be won when you have a stellar defense that limits the amount of runs the opposition scores. Individual and team fielding improves with practice, and high school baseball fielding drills will raise the skill level of your infield and outfield.
Once your team masters fielding fundamentals, you can move on to more sophisticated drills that work on executing double plays and cutoff throws. Drills help improve players’ quickness and reflexes so you can limit runs scored by the opposing team.
Each player infield player needs to develop a skill set that is unique to the position they play. First basemen should be able to stretch and catch on hop throws from shortstop and third base, and picking off runners leading far off the bag. Shortstop and third base must be able to catch barehanded and backhanded and be able to throw accurately to first and second.
Pitcher Covers First Base Drill
This drill is for the pitcher covering first base after throwing to home. Once the pitcher is able to run off the mound to the first base foul line, you can try a game simulation using a baseball and a runner.
The pitcher stands at the mound and the coach is in the first base area of the field. This drill can be performed in under ten minutes and should be repeated up to ten times. The more repetitions, the better your pitcher will execute the play.
- Pitcher moves as if he is pitching to home
- Then he turns and runs straight towards the foul line along first, to the first cut in the infield grass.
- Once he reaches the foul line, he moves parallel to it towards first base.
- The coach tosses the ball to the pitcher on the bag.
- Pitcher touches the first base bag with his foot for the out.
Make sure that when your pitcher runs parallel to the foul line towards first, he takes small, choppy steps to the first base bag. The pitcher should always focus on the game going on around him and less on the play he’s in. He should be aware of the location of the runners, and be able to think about where to throw the baseball after he tags first with his foot.
His hands should always be up to give the ball thrower a large target to throw to. The pitcher should stay out of the path of the runner and avoid drifting toward the baseline.
Infield Momentum Drill
For this drill, you will need four traffic cones. The drill requires your infielders to approach ground balls from the sides, instead of simply running towards it and waiting to catch it. Side approaches give your players more momentum and helps prevent fielding errors.
The cones are arranged anywhere on the field on grass. Place the cones about five feet apart in a reverse L shape. Place a baseball next to the third cone of the reverse L, which the fielder will approach as he runs around the cones towards it.
- The fielder stands in ready position behind the first cone (the horizontal tip of the reverse L).
- His legs spread apart on either side of the cone.
- The coach says, “Go,” and the player runs around the next cone and approaches the ball at the third cone.
- The fielder bends and simulates picking up the baseball barehanded, and throws to his left.
- Last, he runs back to starting position and waits while the next infielder performs the same drill.
This momentum drill is designed to force the player to approach the ball from the side by going around the cones.
Three Cone Footwork Drill
For this drill, you will need three traffic cones in the shape of a triangle. The middle cone is closest to the coach, who will throw ground balls to his players. The cones behind the middle cone which completes the triangle are placed 9 feet behind it.
The player stands three yards behind the two cones and the front middle cone is directly in front of him. This drill focuses on the player’s footwork.
- Player stands in ready position, middle cone directly in front of him.
- The coach points to one of the three cones where he will throw the ground ball.
Throw to Middle Cone
- Right Handed players approach the ball from the right, left handed from the left.
- Staying inside the triangle, the fielder runs to his right, then crouches and fields the ball
- Player throws the ball in his best throwing position.
This part of the drill develops your fielder’s backhand throw, emphasizing footwork and soft hands.
- The coach points to the back left cone and throws a ground ball.
- Player places his glove on the grass backhanded
- Standing, he takes the ball out of his glove and throws.
- Coach tosses ground ball to the cone to his right.
- Fielder places his glove on the ground
- The ball goes into his glove.
- The fielder spins his body, turns and throws the ball in throwing position.
Catching a ground ball requires excellent footwork and coordination. Infielders must set in the ready position in order to can field and throw quickly. If your infielder can save even one second retrieving the ball, it can mean the difference between a single and an out.
The ready Position Drill can be done anywhere on the baseball field. Gather together your infielders and coach them in the proper ready position as a team. Players should stand about three feet apart from each other. The coach watches to make certain they get into ready position. Players stand on the balls of their feet. Check for the following:
- They are bending at the knees, legs and feet spread. Their stances should be wide enough so that they can’t be pushed over.
- Make sure each player’s butt is low.
- The glove hand is down on the ground as well as their free arm. It should almost be touching the ground.
You as the coach simulate throwing the ball to your players. The moment your arm is raised to throw, your fielders will squat into ready position. Observe each infielder one by one. legs spread, rear down low, and gloves are on the ground.
Remember: when infield players field ground balls, their bodies should be low.
Ready Position Throwing Drill With a Wide Stance
Infield players line up on the infield dirt, at the edge of the grass. Coach stands 15 feet away, and has a bucket of baseballs.
- The first fielder crouches, legs spread wide apart, and in ready position.
- You toss a ground ball directly at the fielder.
- The fielder places his glove on the ground while the ball goes into his glove.
- Now the fielder throws the ball back to the coach, remaining in his wide base stance.
- Player then runs to the back of the line.
- Coach throws to the next player who assumes the same crouch stance and retrieves the ball.
Make sure each infielder has 10 attempts to crouch and throw back to you. This drill should last about 10 minutes.
Double Play Drill – Shortstop and First Base– Outside of Second Base Bag (7-6-3)
The shortstop position is key for most of the double play situations that occur in a game when there is a runner either on second base or running towards second from first. When the shortstop is in top defensive form, he will execute double plays well. The game’s momentum can change when double plays are successful. Turning a double play requires split second reflexes, fast reaction time, skilled footwork and awareness. It’s also important to avoid injuries as the shortstop moves, spins to throw and stays out of the way of base runners.
In this drill, the coach uses his shortstop and first baseman. You can either bat balls or throw them to your fielders. The focus here is on the shortstop and how effectively he touches the second base bag before he throws to first. The first baseman also trains to extend his leg to the bag when stretching his body to catch the thrown ball in his glove.
Your first baseman and shortstop in place. You hit a ground ball to first base. He fields it and throws to the shortstop going to the bag at second.
The shortstop steps toward second base with good footwork, catches the ball, taps the bag with his left foot for the first out, then throws the ball cleanly to the first baseman in ready position. This is the execution of a 7-6-3 double play drill.
Charging the Ball Drill
Fielding a ball correctly can be broken down into several steps. Having a tight infield that works well individually and together will make them work well as a single unit when trying to throw out runners and turn double plays.
This drill requires every infielder to be at their positions by the bases. The coach stands at home with a bat and a bucket of balls.
First, show your infield players how to creep slowly onto the infield grass. They do this by taking a small step with their right foot, followed by a small step with the left. As he creeps forward he opens his hands. He is now in his ready position, his arms are spread, and bent as he creeps up.
The coach now hits a ground ball to the first baseman and watches as he charges the ball. Players approach the ball quickly in controlled movements. Charging should be slow and studied and not fast. A slow approach will prevent fielders from over running a hit ground ball.
To field the ball, infielders spread their legs shoulder width apart, their heads down. The bare hand of the fielder is on top and his gloved hand is on the ground. When he reaches the ball, he traps it between his glove and the infield grass.
Now that it’s in the infielder’s glove, he takes his right foot, steps inside his left, squares his shoulders to the target. Hips square with the knees, now he can make a good strong throw.
Leaping Catch Drill
This drill helps players catch a ball that’s hit over their heads. These are either high line drives or poor throws that came from other fielders.
The coach arranges two players about 10 yards apart from each other.
- Player one tosses a high throw to player two.
- Player two jumps and catches it, then throws a hgh line drive to player one.
- Repeat, and little by little, as each player throws higher and higher line drives to each other, increasing the challenge.
Once your players become adept at catching high line drives, place a base bag between them and have each catch high line drives and land with their feet on the bag. This is especially useful for first basemen.
Relay Throw Drill
In this drill, an outfielder sets up in an outfield position. One infielder sets up at the edge of the infield dirt. A second infielder sets up in the middle of the infield dirt.
- Infielder 1, at the edge of the infield, throws a fly ball to the outfielder.
- Outfielder catches the ball and throws the ball with speed back to Infielder 1.
- Infielder 1 catches the ball, then spins towards Infielder 2, in the middle of the infield dirt.
- Infielder 2 catches the ball, turns around and makes a relay throw to the catcher at home.
- Catcher catches the ball and simulates tagging a runner out at home with a swiping motion of his glove.
- Catcher moves to a squat position. Now, pretending there is a runner trying to steal second base, he makes a relay throw to Infielder 2. He, in turn, relay throws to Infielder 1.
- Infielder 1 has the ball, and the relay drill repeats. He throws a ground ball or a pop fly to the outfielder.
It’s important for this drill that the players assume they are in a real game situation. When the outfielder retrieves the ball, he throws quickly to Infielder 1, as if there are runners moving on the bases.
It’s a good idea that the throws are short so your players can get a lot of repetitions and practice in making relay throws.
Outfield Footwork and Throwing Drill
Set three traffic cones in an open area, about a yard apart. The player faces the first cone.
- Right handed players, with their gloves on, hop over the first cone with their throwing side (right foot), followed by the glove side foot.
- He lands with his body square to the target ahead.
- Next, he hops over the next cone, now leading with his throwing side foot.
- As he brings his glove foot over the cone, he turns his shoulder sideways.
- Now he points his glove in the direction of the target and raises up his throwing hand. He gets in position, ready to throw position.
- Finally, the player lowers his glove to the ground, ready to simulate fielding a ground ball.
- He goes through the complete motion he had done in the previous step.
Make sure the player lands on the balls of his feet, not his heel. Once they improve their moves over and around the cones, make them work through the drill faster.
Infield Relay Warmup Drill
This is a fantastic team drill that players really enjoy. To set up, place your players at every infield position, including your catcher.
When everyone is ready, this team drill begins.
- Using a fungo bat, the coach hits a grounder to the third baseman.
- The third baseman fields the ball and throws it to first base.
- Third baseman moves into the shortstop queue.
- The first baseman throws the ball home.
- Catcher fields the ball and tosses the coach another ball
- Now, the coach hits a ball to shortstop.
- The shortstop fields the ball and throws to first base.
- The shortstop moves to the second base slot.
The sequence repeats with each infield player. The coach now hits to the second baseman, who fields the ball and moves to first base.
- The first baseman now moves to the catcher position.
- The catcher rotates up to third base.
The drill is over when all the players are back in their original positions. The main idea in this drill is that there is a lot of player movement, quick and precise, and there is also always a ball in play. The coach can decide to wait to hit the next ball until the first one in play was returned to him.
There’s nothing more important than players assuming the correct fielding position. This drill works on the fundamentals of proper stance infielders take to field rapidly hit ground balls hit directly or o the left or right of them.