The fielding yips can happen to anyone, no matter their skill level, and when they do players suddenly find they can’t field easy groundballs.
The next time it happens to one of your players, make sure you know how to help them.
I’ve seen Olympians and Major Leaguers all of the sudden become unable to field simple groundballs. Sudden is pretty much how quickly it can happen – one day they can field everything in sight, and then suddenly they can’t even field a simple ground ball. Why this happens is beyond me, although I’ve got to believe that a large part of it involves confidence and belief. Bobble one groundball and it’s an error, bobble two and you’ve got a problem on your hands. Once you think you’ve got a problem that becomes all you think about. And one thing is for certain – you are what you think about.
Why the yips happen isn’t as important as knowing how to fix them. The best drill I know of to fix the yips will also help your young infielders overcome the fear of getting hit by grounders. The drill is called “Counting Bounces” and works like this:
- Have your player go to their regular infield position (with their glove on). Have a coach with a bat and a bunch of balls at or near home plate.
- The coach hits a grounder – to the player, and the player will COUNT THE NUMBER OF BOUNCES OUTLOUD!
That’s it. It’s simple, yet very effective. Don’t be surprised when your players don’t count very loudly at first, that’s normal. But ask them to try to count the bounces as loud as possible.
Once your players can effectively count the bounces using a regulation softball, then hit them Zip Balls® and have them count those – Outloud! The smaller size of the Zip Ball® will really force players to narrow their focus on the ball, and take their mind off missing the ball. The whole idea of counting bounces is to focus on the ball instead of thinking about bobbling the ball. The correction won’t happen immediately, but within a few days the yips will be gone, and again, this is a great drill not just for your player with the yips, but for ALL your players!
For more ways to help your fielders check out the following: