Purpose:
Players practice their backhand and forehand when catching ground balls.

Setup:
Two players set up about 6-12 feet apart from each other, standing.

Players practice their backhand and forehand catches.

Instructions:

  • Players bend over to their forehand side and roll the ball back and forth to each other, fielding it with their forehand.
  • Players then reverse and bend over to the backhand side, rolling the ball to each other to field it with their backhand.

Coaching Tips:

  • Stress to players the importance of keeping their head down and trusting their gloves. This can be challenging for youth players. If players are particularly sensitive, consider using softer balls at first, then moving to regular softballs as their skills improve.
  • Ensure the glove palm is open. Watch for “glove flippers” who flip the glove over to catch the ball. Correct this by telling players to imagine they have a bowl of soup in their glove hand and need to keep it flat to avoid spilling.
  • Players should be fielding from the ground up.

Tips for Younger Athletes:

  • Teach young players the importance of proper foot positioning. Their feet should be slightly wider than shoulder-width apart for better balance. Encourage small shuffle steps to adjust their position as the ball rolls towards them, ensuring they’re always in the best spot to field the ball.
  • Focus on drills that enhance their ability to track the ball from the moment it leaves the other player’s hand until it reaches their glove. This can be practiced by having them verbally call out when they see the ball rolling and when they touch it, to reinforce visual tracking.
  • Young players often struggle with stiff hands while catching. Encourage them to use “soft hands,” absorbing the ball’s momentum as they catch it. This can be practiced by having them gently toss the ball up and catch it softly, mimicking the absorption they should use in the drill.

Tips for Older Athletes:

  • Emphasize the importance of transitioning smoothly between backhand and forehand catches. Older players should work on fluidly shifting their weight and rotating their hips as they switch sides, enhancing agility and response time.
  • Encourage players to practice quick decision-making. When the ball is rolled, they should quickly decide whether to move left or right, forward or backward. This improves their reaction time and helps them adapt to unpredictable ground balls in games.
  • Introduce the concept of “reading” the ball. Older, more experienced players should learn to predict the ball’s path based on its speed, spin, and angle as it approaches. This advanced skill will help them position themselves more effectively for both forehand and backhand catches.