As a coach, you want your players to get better by practicing. But you don’t want them to get bored.
That’s why you need to put just a bit more thought to picking the softball infield drills you use, so that your infield players can progress properly.
The drills must suit the playing level of your players, so that means you can’t use college softball infield drills for 10-year-old newbies.
Here are some key drills that are fun which can help your infielders deal more effectively with grounders and other situations.
Blind Wall Infield Drill
This requires at least 3 players, so you won’t have too many players getting bored on the sidelines.
This drill requires cones, and if you want to add to the challenge you may want to use paddles or soft-hand gloves.
With this, your infielders can learn the right fielding mechanics, improve their footwork, and throw the ball for double pays and to 1st base more accurately.
You start by setting 2 cones about 20 feet apart. A player stands at each cone with an empty bucket, while a third player stays in the middle as she faces the wall.
If you’re the coach, you can then stand behind the middle fielder with a bucket of tennis balls.
As the fielder deals with each ball, she will then alternately throw the ball to the left and then right player.
This can be very tiring, so you can run the drill for 45 seconds for each fielder.
The catch and throws should be very quick, and at the end the drill should really tire the fielder out.
Rapid Fire Drill
You start this like the setup of the Blind Wall—2 cones 20 feet apart with players to act as catchers, plus the infielder in the middle.
The goal is to have her field about 25 or so grounders which she can then toss alternately to the catchers on the side.
Plenty of infield softball drills require having a fielder drill with partners. The partner stands about the same distance as a hitter, ready with about 20 balls.
The “triangle” name comes from the shape made by the fielder’s stance. The base points of the triangle are her feet, with the glove extended in front of her pointing to the throwing partner.
The partner should then throw to the forehand side for 20 grounders, which the fielder needs to gather into her stomach before she makes an accurate throw back.
Here the throwing partner must make sure that the grounders are not easy to field. She or he has to throw short hops and hard grounders.
The partners can switch after 2 grounders, and then on the second round the grounders can then be aimed towards the backhand side of the fielder.
Rundown Throwing on the Run
It’s always good to use softball drills for infielders that can involve the whole team so everyone is engaged.
Here the drill is to practice throwing on the run, so the players can run down the opponents running the base path.
It’s about moving and throwing very quickly, because some base can reach 1st base in less than 2.5 seconds!
The drill has your team players with 2 lines, with the head of each line throwing to the other line.
Each thrower should run while throwing, and the aim is to throw to the throwing side of the catching player.
The throws should be quick and accurate, to beat the 2.5-second mark.
If you’re looking for fastpitch softball infield drills for your whole infield, you can try this one. Here are the positions of the players involved:
The catcher sets above the plate with her glove low. She should be poised as if she’s aiming to tag a runner out at the plate.
The 1st and 3rd base players should slowly creep in towards the batter’s box.
The SS and 2nd baseman are in front of the baseline.
You (if you’re the coach) will then hit grounders to each of the infielders. Each infielder must field the grounder, and then throw the ball accurately enough that the catcher’s glove doesn’t even have to move.
Video: The Everyday Softball Drill
Middle Infield Defense
The goal of this drill is to help train your middle infielders (the shortstop and 2nd baseman) to keep the ball in the infield.
You don’t want to let the balls go past to the outfield. (That’s always a bad thing!)
This is a drill that requires only your 2 middle infielders. You can stand at home plate and then hit grounders to your players.
You can hit them with all types of grounders, whether it’s straight at them, up the middle, or in the holes.
The rule for your players is that they must keep the ball from getting past the dirt. So they have to do everything they can to succeed, including dive, slide, and run like hell to stop all the grounders.
To motivate them, you can have them run a lap for each missed ball. Take note of their progress, so that you can eventually have them preventing all your grounders from getting past them.
Triple Infield Drill
Here’s a drill that again involves all your infielders with the catcher. This is a drill that you time, and as you keep practicing the time the team takes should improve.
With everyone at their proper positions, you can start with hitting a grounder to each infielder. The infielder then fields the ball to the catcher who tags an imaginary base runner.
For the next round, you again hit a grounder to each player. The player must field the ball and throw to 1st base for the out.
For the last round, you imagine that the bases are loaded. You again hit grounders to each player.
The player fields the ball and throws to the catcher.
This time, the catcher just tags home plate for a forced out, and then throws to 1st base for a double play.
Around the Diamond
This again involves all your infielders including the catcher.
- Stand on home plate, and then hit the ball to your shortstop.
- The SS fields the ball and throws to 1st base.
- 1B catches the throw, and then throws a hard grounder to 3B.
- 3B fields the grounder, and throws to 2nd base.
- 2B fields the throw and then makes a sweeping tag, and then throws to the catcher.
- The catcher catches the throw and makes a sweeping tag, finishing the drill.
This takes a bit of practice at first, but after becoming familiar with this drill it’s a thing of beauty to see. Even players appreciate how things can go really smoothly with teamwork!
Video: The Top 25 Drill – Carol Bruggeman
Covering the Bunt
Your infielders should practice what to do if the opposing hitter bunts. You can act as the hitter, but you can have another player run to 1B.
Another player should also be on first base, trying to steal a base. Then there’s also a runner on 3rd, trying to score home.
If you’re the coach, you can’t just hit bunts all the time for this drill. You need to hit grounders so the infield can’t just cover the bases before the bunt is hit.
You can aim your grounders to your SS or 2B so they’re always alert.
With this drill, you can focus on getting the out on first base as the priority.
Here are some ideas that you should keep in mind:
Always try to change things for your practice drills. You can add a new one to replace an old drill, or even have a different sequence for drills. You want your players engaged and not bored.
If you’re using a new drill for an old one, make sure that the new drill focus on the same aspect of infielding as the old drill.
It’s better to have really intense drills that run only for a short amount of time. The key is that the players must take the drill seriously!
Warm up your players properly before you do drills. A good warm-up will let them move more effectively, and it will help prevent injury.
Invest in a few paddles, as they can help make drills more interesting and challenging.
You can also look for drills that help improve camaraderie instead of just their skills. Teammates, especially infielders, have to trust one another.
It’s always a challenge to keep things fun while you also want your players to take your softball infield drills seriously.
But this is a challenge that many coaches welcome!