Practicing with the team can determine how good or bad their defense is. If you started with a bucket full of balls, then end up with an empty bucket, chances are the defense is making several errors such as overthrows or booted balls. Your coach can simply tell his or her team about those things, remind them to make good throws or execute efficient fielding mechanics. However, these won’t let them feel the intensity of the message.
Hence, conducting drills which will improve the team’s defense is the good place to start. As a team, all of the players should be in sync in terms of movements and strategy and which techniques work best for them.
Below are some defensive drills to try with your team to build camaraderie, trust and strategic play.
Infielder Technique Drill
This drill aims to teach infielders especially beginners, to make it a habit of centering a ground ball. It will also help build the infielders’’ skills. Make the fielders line up behind the third base without gloves with the coach at the home plate and a catcher. There should be also a player positioned on the short left field to serve as the back-up.
The coach should have a bucket of balls and a softball bat. The coach will shout “go” as he or she will simultaneously hit a ground ball between the shortstop and the third base. “Go” will be the first player’s signal to run for the ball, but instead of fielding it, she will “straddle” it.
The player will allow the ball to pass between her open legs without hitting her feet. The goal here is for every player to know how to center their bodies on a ground ball. Repeat the drill until all the players can successfully execute it.
Rundown Drill is an activity to try to lessen or even eliminate errors in a rundown. To do this, set-up at least eight to ten players. Positioned two players at each base, including the home plate. Then, position a runner between the home and third base and another runner between the first and second base.
The drill will start when the runner who is positioned in the first base will run at the second runner, which is in between the third base and the home plate. The player who has the ball will try to prevent the runner from scoring.
The runner needs to keep going as fast as he can. The player in the home and third stations who will receive the ball next will be the runner now. Infielders should understand what to do in rundown situations as the execution of the play can happen fast. These situations may not happen frequently, but it can determine the result of the game.
The rundown drill has many variations and works on several principles. We suggest you read more to have a better understanding of this drill and how to successfully execute it.
The objective of the drill is to teach players how to position themselves when there is an overthrown ball or a bad throw. While infielders should be prepared in fielding the ball on their own, they still need to work as a team. Anything is possible during a live game thus, every team should be prepared for the unexpected things.
Position the players in their normal places and give the ball randomly. The player will now choose who she will throw the ball to but it should be out of reach of her chosen fielder. This will cause the player to back-up the fielder.
After that, the back-up player will then overthrow the ball to another person. That person’s back-up will field the ball and the drill continues like this. It is ideal to run this drill several turns per player to get them used to being proactive and becomes their teammate’s back-up.
These are just some of the drills that teams and coaches find effective in keeping their teams into a single unit. Other drills such as loop drill, desperation throw drill and the likes can also help you and your team to work as one and improve the team’s defense. Just make sure that each player will get a fair amount of time and opportunity to play and practice the drill.