Purpose:

Players practice making the play on a short chopper when they have to rush to get a player with speed out at first.

Setup:

Players line up near third base. Coach sits with a bucket of softballs near pitcher’s circle.

Player charges in to make the do or die play.

Instructions:

  1. Coach throws a short chopper toward the player, who rushes forward and tries to field the ball as fast and as cleanly as possible.
  2. In this drill, players only field the ball. They do not throw it to first.

Coaching Tips:

The key for the fielder is staying low, trusting their glove and going out and sticking it. In this type of play, the player may not have time to catch the ball with two hands.

Tips for Younger Athletes:

  • Encourage younger players to keep their eyes on the ball all the way into the glove, reinforcing the importance of focus and visual tracking in successfully fielding short choppers.
  • Practice footwork drills separately to improve agility. Quick, efficient steps are crucial for getting in the best position to field the ball.
  • Use softer balls to build confidence in aggressively attacking the ball without fear of injury, helping them to become more comfortable with the idea of sticking their glove out decisively.

Tips for Older Athletes:

  • Work on split-second decision-making skills by varying the direction and speed of the choppers. This prepares players for the unpredictability of live game situations.
  • Emphasize the need for quick, clean transfers from glove to throwing hand, even though the drill focuses on fielding. This habit is essential for making rapid plays in a game.
  • Introduce advanced footwork techniques, such as the crossover step, to reduce the time it takes to approach the ball, allowing for smoother and faster fielding on challenging plays.