In my [tag]softball[/tag] playing days as a young child, I always resented being stuck in the [tag]outfield[/tag] because my [tag]coach[/tag] did not sufficiently emphasize the importance of a strong outfield. So I picked daisies from the grass, missing numerous power hits and pop-flies instead of developing the skills and mental discipline required of a successful outfielder. Had my coach run some of these [tag]softball coaching drills[/tag] at practice, maybe I would have developed into an outstanding outfielder, which is a crucial element of any winning team.
The first softball coaching [tag]drill[/tag] for outfielders is called the ‘Pop-Up Pile-Up’. This drill is very simple. Divide your team into groups of three. One player is the outfielder, one is the base player, and one is the batter. Have your batter hit a series of pop-up flies to the outfielder whose job it is to catch the fly then throw to the ball to the fielder, snapping their wrist for a rapid release. For added enthusiasm, this drill can easily be converted into a game similar to ‘HORSE’ in basketball where each time a player misses their catch they earn a letter in a word. Once a player has all the letters to spell out the word, they are out of the game.
The next softball coaching drill has your [tag]outfielders[/tag] practice fielding grounders. Here, they should develop two techniques: the block and down technique and the charging the ball technique. The first, which involves getting the glove low to the ground in order to block the ball’s trajectory, should be used when there are no runners on base. The second, where the player runs at the ball that is being propelled towards the players, is to be used to stop on-base players from gaining extra bases or bringing in runs.
For the [tag]grounder[/tag] drill, keep your players in groups of three with one as batter, one as outfielder, and one as base player. Have the batter hit a series of grounders towards the outfielder, calling out either “no runners on base” or “runner on 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc” as they hit the ball. This will develop your outfielder’s ability to make a snap judgment on how to field the ball according to the number of players on base, if any.
The most glorious day in any outfielder’s catching days is when they make a successful dive catch. Coaches can run specific drills that aid their player’s skills in making these tricky plays. For this softball coaching drill, pair off your outfielders and have them stand approximately 10 feet apart. Each player is given 10 balls. They take turns throwing balls at each, varying whether the balls fall to the left, right, or short in front requiring a dive. In the beginning, your players may want a mat in front of them to protect their stomachs while practicing dives but after some time and practice they will be sliding on the ground like professionals and wearing their grass-stained uniforms with pride!