Baseball Fielding Drills
Baseball is all about practice. The skills required to thrive in the game can be learned and taught outside of actual in game experience. This article will focus on practice drills that can be done to improve an infielder's glove. These drills will be divided into two sections: individual drills and group drills. Individual drills are practices that can be done by yourself while group drills are drills which require more than one person to do.
Most people think that in order to play or practice baseball, you need more than one person. This is not necessarily true. In fact, there are many drills that can be done by yourself that will improve your game. One of my favorite drills is really simple. Just find a ball (preferably a hard rubber ball, or a tennis ball) and a brick wall that you aren't afraid to break. Stand six to seven yards from the wall and toss the ball against the wall. Field the ball as it bounces back to you. Then pop up and again toss the ball against the wall. Get back in your stance, field the ball and repeat. Be sure to keep your body squarely in front of the ball and stay low. Also, make sure you pop into your throwing stance every time. As you continue to do the drill you should naturally get closer and closer to the wall. This is because when fielding a baseball, your momentum should always be moving forward. This will generally reduce the number of bounces a ball makes, which will reduce the probability of the ball taking a bad bounce. You can make the drill more difficult by throwing the ball harder. This drill can be done with or without a glove. I recommend learning to do the drill without a glove, as this will improve your hands.
Another thing that can be done by yourself is just familiarizing yourself with a baseball. Keep a ball with you at all times. If you are bored pull it out. Get used to how the ball feels in your hand, learn to toss it around. Learn how to quickly grip it with your throwing hand. Perhaps try to learn to juggle two or three balls. Being familiar and comfortable with a baseball is key to being a smooth and relaxed infielder.
These drills are really invaluable for use on your own time when you don't have a partner. If you are lucky enough to have someone to practice your fielding with, the group fielding drills below are for you.
These drills are great if you have more than one person to practice with.
One of an infielder's most valuable tools is his hands. One of the most fun and competitive ways to improve those hands is a game called flips. In this game, players stand in a circle and "flip" the baseball to one another. The game starts when one player tosses the ball at another. The player at which the ball was aimed must touch the ball ONLY TWICE. Its kind of like volleyball in that each player must not catch the ball, but hit it with hands, chest, or any other part of the body. The player must accurately "flip" (hit the ball) to one of the other players in the circle. The ball must be returnable (above the waist, and not too far away from the receiver), or the returning player receives an out. Each player receives three outs before they are retired from the game. The last remaining player wins. Outs are received when a player fails to hit the ball, hits the ball only once, hits the ball more than twice, or fails to hit the ball within another players reach.
This game can improve a players hand-eye coordination. It can also "soften" a players hands; making his on the field glove more of a soft landing place, rather than a hard rebounding wall.
There are several drills that can be done between two players playing catch. Players can practice single hops by purposely throwing the ball short to each other. This is especially good practice for first baseman, as they must properly learn to pick a short hopped ball.
One of mine and my brother's favorite catch games is to try and purposely make the other miss. We throw the ball to each other in such a way that it will bounce and be difficult to field. If the ball gets by the fielder, the thrower gets a point. The ball must be thrown in a way that it is possible to field. It must be within the reach of the fielder, if it is not, no points are given. This game can utilize a player's competitive nature to help improve his fielding skills.
These drills are not meant to replace the tried and true practice of getting out on the field with a bat and a ball. However, these practices can supplement the average player's practice repertoire and help to improve his hands, eyes, and feet.