Coaching Junior Baseball

Fielding Drills

Alligator (Crocodile) Arms Drill

Using two hands to catch the ball is important for younger players to learn. If you use something like Alligator Arms it will give them a better understanding of what is expected when they field a ball.

How this Drill Works: Prior to the drill starting, explain to the young ball players the idea of how an alligator jaw works. Then show them how catching the ball and fielding grounders works the same way. The ball is just like an alligator’s food, and they need to capture it with both hands. Have the children stand in a single file line in the fielding ready position. When you roll the ball, have them place their glove down in front and explain to them that when the ball reaches their glove, the other hand should clamp down to secure the ball – just like alligator jaws – but only with their arms. You can do this with waist high throws and shoulder height throws as well.

Results: With this drill, the younger players will soon learn the importance of “feeding the alligator” so to speak. They will soon learn the concept of securing the ball in their glove with two hands. This is especially helpful for younger players learning to field grounders properly.

Past Ball Drill

One of the first things you should do to teach younger players how to field properly is to get them in front of the ball.

What you Need: Gloves and ball. Two pylons about 10’ apart.

How this Drill Works: Explain to the kids they cannot let the ball get past them and cross the imaginary line between the two pylons. You (coach) will roll, or bounce the ball towards the player in an attempt to get the ball past them. Instruct them on how to shuffle their feet from side to side with their glove in front of them to get their entire body in front of the ball.

Scoop Drill

This is a great drill to help younger players learn which way to use their glove.

What you need: Plastic milk jugs with the bottoms cut out. One half also needs to be cut out. It should resemble the set up of a baseball glove, with one side cut out, so it looks like a scoop.

How this Drill Works: Since a scoop is something that is carried outside the hand, younger kids will be able to manoeuvre the scoop easier than having a glove on their hand. With the scoop shaped similar to a glove, they will begin to understand glove positioning.

When you are instructing the kids on how to use their “scoop” shows them where the scoop goes in certain situations. Shoe them grounders, waist level tosses and shoulder / head level tosses.

Rics’ Tips (not in the handouts)

  1. Fielding Ground Balls.
    Players must watch the ball into their glove – this is key. To help you to know if they are doing this make certain players are wearing caps at practice. You will be able to tell if players are following the ball as the cap will be pointed downwards towards the ground as the ball approaches. If the cap is up because they are looking at where they will throw next then they are definitely NOT watching the ball.
  2. Catching Fly Balls.
    Put two hands together pinky to pinky – this is how you catch fly balls below the waist (belly button). Put two hands together thumb to thumb – this is how to catch fly balls coming in above the waist (belly button).
  3. Catching Fly Balls.
    Make certain players are not “stabbing” at the ball (one handed) when attempting to catch a fly ball. In many cases, a player anticipates the catch and squeezes the glove closed causing a miss or deflection. Players must be encouraged to keep the glove open and let the second hand cover the ball once it is inside the glove. This does not work when trying to dive left or right for a catch.
  4. Diving Catches.
    Teach players to dive left or right safely by getting them to field balls from their knees. As coach, get on your knees approx. 10’ in front of a player (facing you) also on their knees. Slowly toss the ball to the player’s left or right. Get the player to lunge left or right (arm outstretched) to catch the ball and then roll onto their side. Ensure the player does not use their other hand to break the fall but rather rolls onto their side. Do this exercise on the soft grass.
  5. Useful Tools for Drills
    • Use bare hands or paddles (not gloves) to encourage players to field with 2 hands
    • Use rag balls or sock balls (tightly wound cloth taped to retain shape) to teach fly ball catches – players are not as scared of sock balls.
    • Use a tennis racquet to hit tennis balls to fielders – this is a more accurate way than trying to use a bat to direct a ball to a specific position for fielding practice and you can involve the parents in this – there is often a parent who is a good tennis player who would be happy to help with this activity.

Kissing Point Angels Coaches Development Course
16 October 2006      7 – 10 pm
Course Instructor:  Ric Wickham
Handout 3: Fielding Drills and Techniques

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