Thursday, July 26, 2012

Softball Practice Drills - Move It

Purpose: This activity combines the many bunting varieties, baserunning disciplines, and conditioning. Variety of drills must be done when coaching softball.

Procedure: Prepare bases, bats, helmets and balls. Pitch from the mound with one person bunting at home plate. Another three people run from each base. On contact the three runners attempt to advance to the next base. The bunter the sprints to first base. A bunter who misses of fouls the pitch off should run to first anyway. Players advance one base at a time. After reaching home, those runners become bunters and so on. No sliding. All participants should be running bunting at the same time. Move into the next round only after person has bunted and been to each base. Obviously the runners have different agendas as opposed to the bunters. Work individually on the specific disciplines. Adjust to the age levels. Sessions may include:

Round 1:
Bunter: Sacrifice (run through first base and turn right after the bag)
Runner at First: Steal of second base (work on a quick first step)
Runner at Second: Steal of third base (take a lead in the base line)
Runner at Third: Squeeze (wait for the pitcher's front foot to hit the ground)

Round 2:
Bunter: Drag (simulate a base hit by making a wide cut to the right)
Runner at First: Hit-and-run (midway down the line make a quick look into home plate).
Runner at Second: Steal of third base (start from a 2-out lead behind the bag)
Runner Third: Score on a wild pitch (sprint from a secondary lead)

Round 3:
Bunter: Squeeze (run through first base and semi-advance on an overthrow).
Runner at First: Delayed steal (take second while in the secondary lead)
Runner at Second: 2-out lead (score on "crack of the bat")
Runner at Third: Score on a sacrifice fly (simulate tagging up).

Round 4:
Bunter: Fake bunt (square around bring the bat back; then sprint to first base)
Runner at First: Early steal (go at a left-handed pitcher's first move to the plate).
Runner at Second: Wild pitch (advance to third while in the secondary lead)
Runner at Third: Safety squeeze (score when the ball i on the ground).

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Indoor Softball Drills - Crazed

Purpose: This indoor game teaches aggressive baserunning, the art of the rundown, and force outs. Coach's would recommend to have rundown practices as a Softball Coaching Tip. 

Procedure: Have Three gym mats, home plate, rubber ball and bat for this drill. Spread the mats across a gym floor for bases. Each hitter has a 3-and-2 count. The defense must stand around the gym with everyone behind the pitcher. At least one player must be playing each infield position including catcher. The instructor is the pitcher and umpire. Outs are recorded just as in a real game. Runs are scored for each base touched, instead of having to touch all four. The base runner must stay on the bag once the pitcher retrieves the ball (i.e on the rubber) innings end after the third out. There is no limit to the number of runners on a single base. Advancement is voluntary. However, you cannot pass a runner in front of you. A player is safe while standing on a base. Fielders can tag out any runner with the ball ("Indian Rubber" is allowed with a softball thrown below the waist). Force outs can only occur at first base.

Then try this game another way. After a hit, the batter keeps running until hearing "stop". Innings can last for three batters or the entire offensive team. The fielding team must retrieve the ball everyone must touch the ball and then yell "stop". After a few times around, ask the kids to think of better ways to work together. They first may have thrown the ball to each person. Then someone may have run around to touch each person with the ball. The goal is for everyone to run to the person who catches the ball, form a circe, and for each person to touch the ball. The hitting team (after contact) could also be scoring runs by sprinting wall to wall. Each touched wall is a run. Instead of running do push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks, or anything building stamina, endurance and strength.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Softball Baserunning Drills - Speed Trap

Purpose: Teach the art of the rundown, and how to act when you're in a pickle. An important  softball coaching tip you should remember would be making sure rundown mechanics are practiced. 

Procedure: Prepare fielding gloves, tennis balls and 2 bases. Explain the roles of fielders and base runners in the event of a rundown. Depending on available space and the number of kids, this game can be performed between first and second base, or between each of the other bases. The goal is for the "police officer" (person with the ball) to catch a "speeder" (person in the rundown). The base runner wants to safely reach one of the bases. An elimination factor can be added here by sending people to the "jail". Those "criminals" include tagged base runners, fielders who collide with a runner, the fielder closest to a runner who has successfully made it back to a base, or the fielder who makes a poor throw. the "jail" is emptied after each completed rundown since someone is always safe or out remember, "speed kills". Steal as many bases and runs as you can!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Softball Drills - Shin Guard Shuffle

Purpose: Catchers need to think of themselves as a banana: the gear is just an outer layer of skin. These drills focus on getting acquainted to the equipment, footwork, hand-eye coordination, endurance and quickness. It is important to have separate softball drills for catcher when one considers  softball coaching.

Procedure: Prepare a full catcher's gear for each person and balls. For indoor work wear wrestling knee pads instead of shin guards. Have two catchers face each other while standing in a circle. Use the basketball tip-off circle when indoors. While wearing full equipment (no mitts; mask is optional) shuffle around the circle while playing underhand catch with the ball and listening for verbal instructions. The toss should reflect most of the commands (see below). Attempt to frame every toss. Even the catcher without the ball should perform each command. After each skill, continue on playing catch.

verbal commands include:
left: rotate to the left
right: rotate to the right
up: stimulate pop-up
down: simulate a block in the dirt
push-up: do an actual push-up
sit-up: do an actual sit-up
jog: Run in place

Monday, April 9, 2012

Softball Baserunning Drills - Wisk

Purpose: Ball players should be filthy after sliding and diving and those "wisks" around the base. Sliding head first is tough skill to learn but still can be taught.

Procedure: you'll be needing throw-down bases. Wisk detergent can clean the dirtiest of uniforms.The day before playing wisk tell kids to wear uniform, pants, sweats or old jeans. this activity is best suited without shoes. Start with one giant line of people (standing on the foul line). Have a starting signal. Include five sliding stations.

First, use a per leader to demonstrate each of the five slides 1) straight leg but arms down to avoid the tag. 2) pop-up, 3) hook with either leg, 4) head first, and 5) slide past the bag and reach around to touch it. Second, have the kids perform each bent-leg slide (leg out front) as a group by only taking a few steps and then sliding. Focus on technique rather than speed. Fourth, take a full sprint towards the instructor some distance away. After a sprint, simply turn around and face the other direction. Start off in the stealing position. Fifth,have a sliding contest. Award a prize for the best slide or give a round of applause to the dirtiest person. On that hot summer day, hose down the water slide mat to practice head first dives.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Softball Hitting Drills - Peas

Purpose: This is a rapid-fire bunting drill designed to get a lot done in a short period of time. Bunting is a skill each player in a team should know how to do, coaching softballshould have bunting in their practice sessions

Procedure: Prepare a batting cage, pitching machine, jug balls, helmet and thunderstick bat. Use the thunderstick bat for purpose of hand-eye coordination and confidence. Put the balls into the pitching machine one after another. Stay in the bunting stance for each pitch. Focus on the "peas" shooting out from the machine. Bunt left. Bunt right. Lay down the sacrifice bunt drag and squeeze. Go through an entire bucket of balls. Don't worry about a pop-up. Get ready for the next pitch because there's no time to dwell on the negative.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Softball Infield Drills - Wild Pitch Runner On Third

Purpose: To develop tactics for handling a wild pitch with a runner on third base. A softball pitching tip to remember is to practice pitchers to defend as well.

Procedure: This drill needs a softball and gloves. Situate the fielding team in their regular positions. Put a base runner on third. The coach places a softball somewhere behind the catcher without the catcher knowing where. On the "go" command the base runner sprints for home plate. The catcher turns to locate the softball, and the pitcher runs to cover home plate. When the catcher locates the ball, he turns and tosses it to the pitcher covering home. The pitcher tags the sliding runner with the ball.

ProcedureThis situation occurs in almost every youth softball game and is very rarely practiced. This is an easy drill to set up and if practiced correctly, can prepare players for real game situations.

Procedure1 While running to cover home plate, the pitcher should yell to the catcher where the ball is if the catcher has trouble locating it.

2. The catcher should concentrate only on locating the ball. After doing so, he should turn and toss !he ball underhand and low to the pitcher so that the pitchers glove will be in a good position to tag the sliding base runner.

3. The pitcher should concentrate on catching the ball before turning toward the base runner.
Because this is practice, the base runner should, at first, slow up a few feet before reaching home plate so that fielders can effectively practice the drill.

4. When this play occurs, either In practice or in a game, the second baseman should move to the base of the plate to back up the toss to the pitcher. This backup can prevent additional runs if the catcher overthrows the Loss to the pitcher and there is more than one runner on base.

5. Rotate all of the pitchers and catchers in this drill.