Do you use the same infield warm-up drill over and over for pre-game warm-ups?
If you line up your infielders and hit groundballs at them during pre-game warm-ups you’ll want to discover this improved version.
We’ve all done this drill before – we line our infielders up and hit groundballs that they throw back to another fielder standing next to us. We think we’re getting them ready for the game, but are we really? While we’re no doubt helping them field groundballs we aren’t really helping them make realistic throws.
The picture to the right shows this standard warm-up drill – the infielders, after getting the ball hit to them, throw it back to the coach hitting the grounders. This isn’t a very game-like situation since it only represents a play at the plate. Instead, let’s modify this drill slightly to get a lot more out of it by having the fielders make more realistic throws.
This modified version of the standard infield line drill is something I saw Paula McGoven, former head coach of the Australian U19 Girls National Team, do in pre-game warm-ups with her team. So many thanks to Paula for putting a new twist on an old standard!
Here’s how it goes:
- You’ll still have your infielders lineup separate from your outfielders but instead of placing all of your infielders in a single-file line you’ll group them according to their positions and have them lineup in positions slightly similar to their regular infield positions. I say “slightly” similar since you can’t spread your whole team all over the infield during pre-game warm-ups so you’ll have to squish them up space-wise. Check out the picture to the right to see how your infielders will be positioned in this new twist. Keep in mind that while it might look like your infielders are really spread out they aren’t more than 20 feet apart at the widest point.
- The concept of this drill is the same as the standard infield line drill – that of hitting a groundball to an infielder who throws it back – except Paula’s Australian team had a much better twist! They had the player fielding the ball throw the ball to another one of the infielders – simulating a more game-like throw.
- Start off hitting a groundball to the first player in the 3rd base line who fields the ball and then quickly pivots and makes a short throw over to the player in the 1st base line.
- The next grounder goes to the first player in the SS line who makes the same throw over to the 1st base line.
- The 2nd baseman is next followed by a grounder to the 1st baseman who either underhand tosses to another 1st baseman inline or else to a 2nd baseman covering the 1st base area (the area of ground the 1st base was fielding in and not the actual 1st base bag itself).
- Depending on the time you have for warm-ups you can then add more throws to the middle infielders covering a phantom 2nd base or else wrap up the whole warm-up, but either way you’ve still hit grounders to your infielders they’ve simply made more realistic throws and are now ready to actually reposition their feet for a throw the first time the ball is hit at them during the game.
Note: Keep in mind this drill can also be done during practice if you aren’t allowed on the field during your pre-game warm-ups.
Use the time and space you’re given during your pregame warm-ups to be more creative and game-like in your warm-ups in order to better prepare your players for the actual game. There are always different ways for us to think about the same old things and I want to thank Paula and all her coaches (CJ, Kevin and Shane) for helping expand my brain on this one! Good on ya!
For more help on some great fielding drills check out the following: