One of the most important things in being an infielder is being able to set your feet properly to be able to throw a strike to the target.
Bases Drill Series
The drill involves your player picking up a ball and being able to set his or her feet to the designated base that you call out, switching it up between the bases.
The next progression of this drill series involves the ground ball. Your player will field it and make the throw to first base. You’ll want to have a person at first, sitting on a bucket.
In every drill series that we work with the infield and the outfield, they all have a short throw, a medium throw, and a long throw. So in every series, we try to cover each of those areas when they’re throwing to the target.
The next series of ground balls, your player should field and throw to second base. When you work the very short throw, your player’s going to do a shovel toss. Your player should focus on not putting the ball or his or her hand above the shoulder. By doing that, keeping it below the shoulder, your player’ll throw a strike to the intended target.
He or she won’t even snap the wrist because we don’t want a rise ball. It’s actually the speed of the legs driving the acceleration of the toss.
Then do a medium throw where your player will throw three-quarters; then we’re going to put him in the 5-6 hole where he has to come over the top and make a longer throw.
The key on the long throw is that he’s going to transfer his weight. So he catches the ball on his load side, transfers it on the go side. The load side is the back side. The go side is the front side.
The drill series that goes to third base will incorporate the short throw, the medium, and the long throw.
Now we’ll do the three throws – the short, medium, and long throw – to home. The key for the infielders throwing home is make sure that you throw a strike to the tag side. Make it as easy on the catcher as possible.
Tag Drill Series
We want to show you two styles of base coverage on the tag.
For those of you that have a catcher that may not be throwing with great strength or velocity, you can go ahead and set up shallow as a shortstop.
The key is to receive that ball and make sure you can tag the front or the side of the bag for that person that may try and go back door. But this is a nice position for a team that may have a catcher that doesn’t have good velocity. The down side, you don’t have good coverage on the side back part of the base.
Another style for the shortstop to try is straddling the base. He’ll have coverage both in the front and the side. He should wait to receive the ball and make a vertical tag.
One of the most common things that we do wrong as infielders making tags, we have a tendency to go out and reach for the ball and bring it in and down. Or we receive the ball and we go out towards the base runner.
As an infielder working on tags, always remember: If you have the velocity on the throw, the speed of the ball traveling to your glove is the quickest way to get into a tag position. So don’t go out and grab it and then bring it in; that takes too much time. Get right in your receiving position, receive the ball, and make a vertical tag.
There’s no need to go out for the runner because we know he has to end up right here at the base. You go out to tag him, you put yourself in a vulnerable position with the umpire.
Because now the umpire has to judge did the tag occur before her feet arrived at the base. A vertical tag has the ball, the glove right where the feet are going to meet.
Now focus on a more traditional base coverage where the shortstop actually straddles the base and places the tag.
And it’s a preference per coach and strategy on whether you want to drop down that right leg and block the base. Some teams don’t want to put their shortstop in that vulnerable position; others play more aggressive and block that base with the right leg.
Right now we’re going to go ahead and work double-play footwork. Your player should work on receiving the first throw of the double-play. Right now he just wants to work footwork. He’s going to go ahead and work a series of base coverage, receiving the throw from the second baseman who’s deep at his position.
The second half of these throws should come from inside the baseline. Your shortstop should work the inside of second base on receiving the first throw of a double-play ball.
He should have fingers up, waiting for that ball to get into his physical area. He shouldn’t reach out and get the ball.
On the next set, the double-play footwork is going to be incorporated when the ground ball is hit more shallow and your player’s going to place his left foot on the inside portion of second base.
Fly Ball Drill Series
The next drill series with the shortstop involves the ball over the shoulder, the fly ball. But we incorporate the outfielder, so they’ve got to do a good job of communicating with one another.
We have to have somebody claiming, calling that ball, by the time that fly ball reaches peak flight. If two people call it or nobody calls it, then we have the responsibility, the outfielder taking that ball.
The key in communicating once you’ve decided that you’re going to catch the ball is to make sure that you call it at least three times.
If you have both fielders calling it, the outfielder takes it.
When the shortstop doesn’t catch the ball, he should move very closely to the outfielder just in case he bobbles and drops the ball.
This three-part baseball fielding drill series is ideal for running with your shortstop. Did you like this post? Take a moment to share it with your fellow coaches and players if so.