Despite appearances, there’s nothing routine about fielding a ground ball hit back to the pitcher’s mound or bare-handing a perfectly executed bunt down the baseline.
Making a play on a slow-roller is a balancing act. You’ve got to be quick and agile with an explosive first step—and be able to change direction in an instant.
STACK went straight to the experts to learn about the baseball agility drills big leaguers perform to make acrobatic plays look routine.
Baseball Agility Drills
Half Moon Fielding with Baseball
Who uses it: Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander
Who coaches it: Tigers strength and conditioning coach Javair Gillett
Gillett says: [Justin] can put himself into positions naturally, but it’s in those awkward positions that he has to perform. We’re not always working the easiest angles. They have to reach for a ground ball, and they might not necessarily be in a balanced state.
• Set up five cones in a half moon
• Sprint to each cone and field ball (rolled by partner)
• Return to center after each fielded ball
• Use hockey stop to slow down
• Get low into a wide stance
• Alternate sides each set
Sets/Rest: 3 each side/45 seconds
Coaching Point: Start slowing down with back leg first, then get on front leg; if weight is too far on front leg, you’re going to keep going forward
Ground Balls on Speed Ladder with Medicine Ball
Who uses it: Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins
Who coaches it: Chestnut Hill Academy strength coach Aaron Sistrunk
Sistrunk says: When [Jimmy] has to move like this on the field, without the med ball, it will be a lot easier. This works on body control and improves lateral movement—being able to come at a full rate of speed and then stop on that outside foot.
• Begin with left foot in first box of ladder and right foot outside to the right. Hold med ball in front
• Lower into ground ball fielding position and gently touch med ball to ground
• Quickly shuffle feet so that right foot lands in second box and left foot lands outside to the left
• Immediately lower into ground ball fielding position and gently touch med ball to ground
• Repeat continuously for length of ladder
• Perform backwards down length of ladder
Reps: 3 [down and back equates to one rep]
Coaching Points: Always keep inside foot in, stepping over as much as you can and sinking down // Make sure knee doesn’t go over big toe