Good fielding requires lots of technique, such as scooping up grounders and making pinpoint throws to first. However, none of that can happen if you don't get to the ball. Thus, infielders need to focus part of their training on developing agility and quickness.
Tyler Jorgensen, University of Georgia softball strength coach, emphasizes lateral drills performed on a single leg. He says, "We do exercises dealing with single-leg planting. The players have to be able to plant on one leg and make a play on a ball."
The Bulldogs perform Single-Leg Hurdle Jumps, which train explosive movement side to side, so they're able to move more quickly to scoop grounders in a broader range.
Single-Leg Hurdle Jumps
Place two 10- or 12-inch hurdles two feet apart
- Begin in athletic stance with hurdles to right side
- Step laterally over first hurdle with right leg
- Step over first hurdle with left leg
- Step over second hurdle with right leg
- Shift weight onto right leg and raise left leg off ground
- Lower left leg to ground and step back over second hurdle with right leg
- Repeat in opposite direction
- Repeat for specified reps
Sets/Duration/Rest: 3 x30 seconds with 60-90 seconds rest
Coaching Points: Keep knees up while stepping over hurdles // Go through movement as quickly as possible // Maintain balance throughout exercise // Perform entire pattern in continuous motion using arms to keep moving as fast as possible
In addition to developing quickness, it's essential to improve your footwork. Good footwork makes it easy to get into position to field a hard hit ground ball and throw the runner out.
Bonnie Tholl, associate head coach of the University of Michigan softball team, takes her players through an Agility Ladder Circuit that improves their footwork when moving in multiple directions. "This drill encourages quick changes of direction while maintaining balance. It develops quick feet, good balance and reaction to the ball," she says.
Agility Ladder and Field Circuit
Drills: One-Foot In, Two-Feet In, In-In Out-Out, Lateral Two-Feet In, Ickey Shuffle
- Perform specified drill down length of ladder with partner 8 to 10 feet from end of ladder facing you
- When you exit final rung, partner rolls ball to your left or right
- React and field ball
Sets: 1x each movement
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