Does your team need help with their fielding? Want to eliminate errors and improve your defensive execution? Try this fielding-themed practice plan!
It starts off with a Warmup, then takes your kids through three fun and effective Fielding Stations to help improve their defensive skills. Finally, we’ll finish up with two situational fielding drills for Game Preparation.
Phase 1: Warmup (25 mins)
Dynamic Warmup (5 mins)
Jog & Skip Forward & Backward, High Knee Runs, Carioca, Walking Lunge
Beat the Clock (10 mins)
Can be done using the infield bases, or by setting up 4 cones in the outfield, 60 feet apart. Have one player at each base with the rest in line a safe distance from the bases. The player at home will start with the ball.
- The player at home will begin the drill by making the throw to 3rd. The coach will start his stopwatch as soon as the ball leaves his hands.
- The ball will go around the infield, with each player following their throw, rotating over 1 base, with the 1st baseman headed to the back of the line and a new player stepping in at home.
- Keep track of the fastest throws around the bases! Nothing motivates players like trying to achieve record times.
Make sure the receivers are showing a target box for the thrower.
This is a great drill for footwork – players get a great chance to work on catching as they move their feet toward the base they are throwing to.
This drill can be done anywhere, all you need is an object in the distance for the runner to focus on – in the case of the diagram, a water bottle on a garbage can. The team will be split into three lines, about 90 feet away from their object of focus.
- The players at the front of the line will all take their lead off and explode out toward the object, keeping their eyes focused on it as they run.
- When the player in front of them is halfway to the object, the next player in line takes off.
The key here is actually in the players feet! If they run flat footed, the object will bounce around and make it very difficult for them to focus on it – they need to run up on the balls of their feet to keep the object as still as possible.
Phase 2: Stations (36 Mins)
Split the team into three groups and rotate through each drill for 15 mins
Split the team into two groups, with half of them lining up in left field, and the other half lining up in right field. You will also need two coaches in center field, lined up as you see in the diagram. All players will need a baseball and their glove.
- The first player in each line will run towards the coach and then flip him the ball as they approach. The coach will catch, turn, and throw a fly ball out ahead of the player for them to chase down and catch on the run.
- The player will then give his ball to a teammate and go to the back of the line they started in.
Keep the pace up! The next in line should be leaving just as the toss to the coach is being made.
Keep track of catches and errors! First team to 20 catches wins!
Shoestring Drill (12 Mins - Outfield)
Depending on number of coaches, you can have players grab their gloves and form either 1 or 2 lines in the outfield. The coach will kneel about 10-15 yards in front of the line with a bucket of baseballs.
- The first fielder in line will charge at the coach, running as fast as they can.
- When the player is about 5 feet away, the coach will flip a ball out just in front of the player, forcing him to extend out to make the catch.
- After the player makes the catch, he will drop the ball off next to the coach and head to the back of the line.
Make sure you’re making the players have to really give it their all for the catches – you can even give ratings for the best ones!
Have the team split into two groups, forming one line in left field and one in center. The coach will be at home plate with a baseball, and can either bat or throw balls for this drill.
- The coach will hit a hard, low ground ball into the outfield.
- Depending on where the ball is hit, one player will take an angle towards the ball, while the other takes the angle to cut behind, to play safety in case the first player makes an error.
- After the players have learned the drill, you can make it a fun challenging game by splitting the team into four groups. Play for 5-10 minutes, with players recording a point for each ball that does not get past both players.
The key to player success in this drill is communication – players must quickly establish who will be angling behind, and who will be moving up to the ball as soon as it is in play to be successful.
Phase 3: Game Preparation (50 Minutes)
The next part of this youth baseball practice plan focuses on making catches and good throws in the outfield, and getting the ball into the infield.
Team Fly Balls (25 Mins)
- The coach will begin by hitting a fly ball to the 1st outfielder on team 1. That player must catch the ball, and then make a good throw to the catcher at home.
- Next the coach will hit a ball out to team 2, who’s player will do the same – catch and throw.
- Award a point for each catch and a point for each good throw – the first team to reach 25 points wins!
When running this drill with younger or inexperienced players, you can use tennis balls or soft-core balls for safety.
Have players form a line in each outfield. The first two players from each line will step up, with two stepping up as infielders and the players behind them playing outfield. A coach will also be at home with a bat and balls.
- The coach will hit a ball deep into the outfield, as if a batter just hit a double.
- The outfielder who’s side the ball was hit to, will go scoop the ball. The infielder on his side will step up into the outfield between 2nd and the ball to act as cut-off. The other infielder will step onto 2nd.
- The outfielder will throw to the cut-off, who will then throw to 2nd.
- After each ball hit, outfielders will move to infield, infield moves out, and two new players move in to be outfield.
Any ball hit to the right side in the 2nd baseman’s cut-off responsibility. Any ball hit to the left will be the shortstop’s responsibility.