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Creating aggressive infielders is one goal of youth baseball coaches and these baseball infield drills, inspired by women's fast pitch softball, work to do that. These baseball infield drills tend to liven up practices, too,offering some variety into them, which is good so things do not get stale.
One thing that one notices when watching fast pitch softball games, especially with high caliber teams as in the college and professional women's leagues, is that there is no such thing as a routine ground out, or at least they are a very rare occurrence. All plays at first base after ground balls are close, if not bang-bang plays at first. Because of the short length of the bases in women's softball and many very quick runners, fielders have to be quick and throw the ball at top speed on most ground balls to have a chance at getting runners out. Additionally, any bobble of the ball or lazy throw, often results in the base runner coming up safe.
In baseball games, at least at the more advanced levels, many ground balls are routine, when infielders catch ground balls without having to hurry or throw the ball to first at top speed. Players often get away with slight misplays and less than quick or hard throws to get batters out. The length of the bases in baseball, along with the fact that a baseball travels faster than a softball, both to the fielders and on throws, are contributing factors to more routine plays in baseball. Of course, because the ball travels faster and has more bounces to get to fielders, more bad and difficult hops are likely and the throws are further, of course, so I am not implying it is easy to field in baseball.
Because softball players have little time to make plays and no margin for error, this softball inspired infield drills are a good way for coaches to teach baseball players to focus on quickness and hard, accurate throws to bases.
The baseball infield fielding drills are simple, as coaches shorten the bases by 10% for practice, simulated games, and regular intra-squad games. For example, for regular 90-foot baseball diamonds coaches set the bases, or use temporary bases, at 81 feet and for little league field dimensions, coaches set the bases at 54 feet instead of regulation 60-foot bases.
For infield practice, coaches have extra players as runners, who take off to the shortened bases when the coach hits ground balls. Infielders will have to be quick and flawless with their fielding, and throws, to get players out with the shorter base paths. Infielders will have even greater challenges turning double plays with the shorter bases, but it makes for a good challenge, the desired sense of urgency, and fun for players.
As mentioned, this is also a good way to set up for simulated baseball games, when batters hit and run the bases, with a full infield and outfield. Outfielders will have to be quicker also, so runners cannot advance to extra bases, when they normally would not have had that chance.
Finally, playing practice baseball games with this softball inspired infield drills set-up makes the defense sharper, quicker, and more attentive to little details, not to mention more scoring. The good news is that players learn to work quickly and remain aggressive, and when back at regulation distances, they find they have a little extra time, which feels good.
After playing major league baseball, Jack Perconte has taught baseball and softball since 1988 and offered valuable coaching training too. He has helped numerous youth players reach their potential, as well as having helped parents and coaches navigate their way through the challenging world of youth sports. Jack is one of the leading authorities in the areas of youth baseball training and coaching training advice.All Jack Perconte articles are used with copyright permission.
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