February 23, 2011 • BaseballSoftball

Baseball: The infield drill series

As a high school baseball coach, I used to find it difficult to coach everyone at the same time. And I often struggled to get my infielders a lot of repetitions in practice.

That was until I found out what could be done with one fungo hitter, a bucket of balls, and an idea — that an infielder could do something with every ground ball that he fields, either throwing it across to first base or working on a double-play feed.

If you have an infielder who also pitches, you will need to adjust based on when he last pitched and how many pitches he threw. I also believe that middle infield is a position, and that every middle infielder should be able to play both shortstop and second base.

All these ground balls should be played at game speed, with the timing being adjusted to which part of the season that you’re in. Each of these infield plays is executed in 2 to 4 minutes.

3B, SS, 2B, throw to 1B; 1B throws to 3B (3 minutes)

The fungo hitter hits ground balls to each infielder, who must throw to first, where the first baseman throws to third base.

5-4-3; 6-4-3 (4 minutes)

The fungo hitter should alternate ground balls to the third baseman and shortstop, then hit two balls in a row to either position. If the fielder misses the ball, move on to the next fielder. The first baseman should take these throws and drop the baseballs into a bucket beside him.

Slow roller to 3B; 4-6-3 (4 minutes)

To give the third baseman some rest between reps, the fungo hitter should hit two ground balls to second for each one hit to third. The first baseman should take these throws live, and then drop the baseballs into a bucket beside him.

5 unassisted — 3; 3-6-3 (4 minutes)

The fungo hitter should alternate ground balls to 3B and 1B. The ball should be hit to the third baseman’s back hand so he can tag third and fire across to first. The first baseman holds the runner on, and the second baseman joins the shortstops. If you have only one first baseman, assign someone to take the throw from third.

Double plays (3 minutes)

Set one player at each infield position, extra players at the edge of the outfield grass, the first baseman holding the runner on, and the middle infielders at double-play depth. The fungo hitter can hit the ball to anyone, and the fielders will go for two. If an infielder bobbles the ball, he should pick it up and throw to first.

Pop-ups (2 minutes)

Set a player at each infield position and have the fungo hitter hit infield pops at random.

The drill program improves the players’ fielding and strengthen their arms. Taking ground balls with a purpose prepares your players to make the play when it matters.

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