A total defensive program.
Until baseball coaches are allowed to pitch or hit for their players, they will have to continue developing their skills through fundamentally sound and comprehensive teaching programs.
At Grimsley we spend half of our daily practice time on it. Our rationale is simple: We may not have the pitching or clutch hitting to win big over the course of a season, but if we can field the baseball and react efficiently to every defensive situation, our speed and defense will keep us competitive and often pay big dividends.
We have designed two 60-minute defensive drills - A Whirlie Individual Drill and a Grimsley Team Drill - which we alternate in our daily practices.
Since our varsity and junior varsity teams work out together, we set up all the players at their individual positions on the field, and have them work on all the plays they will be called upon to make in a game.
We believe that it helps younger players to work out with the more experienced players, especially if you have enough coaches to go around. We position one coach in the outfield, one on the right side of the diamond, another on the left side, one with the catchers, and one with the pitchers.
Obviously, you will need a generous supply of baseballs, although tennis balls can be used at stations in the individual drill series.
WHIRLIE (INDIVIDUAL) DRILLS
The individual defensive drill series is broken down into 12 four-minute segments, with one-minute intervals between stations.
Catcher: Three balls are placed behind the catcher close to the fence to simulate passed balls - one ball to the left, one ball to the right, and one directly behind the catcher.
At our signal, "Go!", the pitcher yells "Right!" or "Left!" or "Behind!", then rushes in to cover the plate while the catcher runs to the spot of the call, slides to the right side of the ball to field it, and throws to the plate in one fluid motion.
3rd Baseman: A coach hits slow ground balls to the 3rd baseman, who fields the ball and throws to the 1st baseman.
Back-Up 2nd baseman and SS roll ground balls to the starting 2nd baseman and SS, who practice turning the double play at 2nd base and throwing to the 1st baseman. The groups alternate after several turns.
Outfielders line up in center field and left field and the outfield coach hits line drives in the gaps, which the fielders attempt to cut off. Coaching point: Make sure the fielders take good routes to the gaps.
Pitcher delivers to the catcher, who rolls the ball out in front of the plate to simulate a squeeze play. The pitcher charges the ball and tosses it to the catcher, who then goes through the tagging action.
3rd Baseman fields a ground ball hit by a coach and throws it to the 2nd baseman for the 5-4 force-out or to start a double play.
SS: The infield coach hits slow ground balls that the SS charges and throws to the 1st baseman.
Outfielders line up in center and left field, facing each other, and practice charging, fielding, and throwing to each other with perfect technique on balls hit to them by the outfield coach.
Catcher receives a pitch from the pitcher and throws to the 1st baseman as for a pick-off play.
Right Fielder runs down a groundball hit toward the right-field line, and throws to the cutoff man (2nd baseman), who relays the ball to the SS covering 2nd.
Left Fielder and Center Fielder field ground balls (hit by a coach) and throw to a cutoff man (SS) or through to 3rd base. The pitcher must back up 3rd. Coaching point: Make sure the pitcher sets up close to the fence, dugout, or dead-ball area, rather than right behind the bag, in order to give himself enough room to react to a wild throw.
Pitcher delivers to catcher, who throws to 3rd to catch a runner attempting to steal. The 3rd baseman puts on the tag.
1st Baseman practices scooping balls thrown into the dirt by the back-up 1st baseman. Players alternate after several throws.
Pitcher, 2nd Baseman, SS practice pick-off plays at 2nd. Pitcher may use an inside pivot (toward throwing side) or a jump pivot (toward glove side).
Outfielders dive for low line drives hit by the outfield coach. Though we do not like our outfielders diving for balls, it has to practiced because it sometimes becomes necessary - and the players love doing it!
Pitcher, Catcher, 2nd Baseman work on steal attempts to 2nd base. Coaching point: Catcher has to focus on being quick and accurate.
3rd Baseman reacts to hard-hit balls to his glove and his backhand side.
1st Baseman catches throws up the line (from the back-up first baseman) and makes a tag on the runner's hip as he passes. The 1st basemen alternate after each play.
Outfielders: Coach hits fly balls and ground balls to OF's, who dropstep with their right foot and run at a 45-degree angle to catch a fly ball or field a grounder to their right.
Pitchers cover 1st base on any ball hit to the right side (by a coach) and take the throw from the 1st baseman.
Catchers practice blocking pitches into the dirt.
3rd Baseman: Infield coach hits fly balls over the baseman's head, using a tennis racket and tennis balls. The tennis equipment ensures the infielders of a lot of reps in a short period of time.
3rd Baseman, SS, Catcher & Left Fielder, practice two kinds of plays on ground balls hit to the left fielder by a coach. The LF fields the ball and throws to the 3rd baseman (cut-off man), who lets the ball go through to the plate or cuts it off and throws to the SS covering 3rd for a run-down play on the runner, who has broken around 3rd base. (Use back-up infielders or pitchers as runners.)
Pitcher covers 1st base on a ball hit by the coach between 1st and 2nd. He takes the throw from the man fielding the ball - enabling the players to practice their communication.
Right Fielder & Center Fielder face the sun and practice catching fly balls hit by the coach. They shade the sun with their gloves or the bill of their caps.
Catchers work on catching pop-ups behind home plate. Coach (behind the plate) uses a tennis racket and tennis balls to hit the pop-ups.
Pitcher, 1st Baseman, 2nd Baseman, SS practice the 1-6-3 and 1-4-3 double plays. A coach hits ground balls to the pitcher who fields the ball and throws to the 2nd baseman or the SS covering the bag, who then throws to 1st baseman.
3rd Baseman gets down on both knees, which forces him to get his hands out in front of his body, and fields grounders hit by the infield coach.
Outfielders field fly balls and ground balls hit by the outfield coach. The outfielders drop-step with their left foot and run at a 45-degree angle to catch the fly ball or field the grounder hit to their left.
Catcher, Center Fielder, Pitcher practice throwing a runner out at the plate. The pitching coach hits a ground ball to the center fielder who fields the ball and throws to the plate, where the catcher simulates a tag on a runner. The pitcher backs up the plate in case of an over-throw.
1st Baseman, 2nd Baseman, Right Fielder practice communicating on fly balls hit by the outfield coach to short right field and down the right-field line. (Coach uses tennis racket and balls.)
3rd Baseman, SS, Left Fielder, same play as above but with the coach hitting the ball to short left field and down the left-field line.
Catcher, 3rd Base, 1st Baseman practice the 5-2-3 double play, with the infield coach hitting ground balls to the 3rd baseman, who fields the ball and throw to the catcher, who then goes to 1st base.
Pitcher, 2nd Baseman, SS practice the 1-4 or 1-6 force out on ground balls (hit or rolled) out in front of the mound (to simulate a bunt) by the pitching coach. The pitcher fields the ball and throws to the 2nd baseman or SS covering 2nd for the force-out.
Outfielders practice catching fly balls hit in all directions by the outfield coach.
Pitcher, 1st Baseman, SS practice the 3-6-1 double play on ground balls hit by the pitching coach to the 1st baseman, who fields the ball and throws to the SS covering 2nd. The SS then throws to the pitcher covering 1st.
2nd Baseman & 3rd Baseman play in on the grass to field hardhit ground balls hit to them by the infield coach. The fielder throws to the catcher to cut down a runner breaking from 3rd.
Outfielders discuss situations with the outfield coach.
Back-Up Catchers set up close to the fence and work on framing pitches, then alternate with the regular catchers in the drill that follows.
Catchers, Pitchers, 1st Baseman practice the 1-2-3 double play on ground balls hit to the mound by the pitching coach. The pitcher throws to the catcher, who then throws to first.
Right Fielder fields ground balls or fly balls hit to him by the coach on the right side of the infield. After fielding the ball, the RF throws to the cut-off man (1st baseman).
Left Fielder, same as above, but with the coach hitting the ball to the left side and the 3rd baseman serving as the cut-off man.
2nd Baseman, SS, & Center Fielder practice fly-ball communication in short CF behind 2nd base on balls hit by the outfield coach.
GRIMSLEY TEAM DRILLS
Double Relays (5 minutes) occur whenever the SS and 2nd baseman become the relay men on balls hit into the gap over the outfielders' heads or down the lines.
Rundowns between 1st & 2nd, 2nd & 3rd, and 3rd & home simultaneously (10 minutes).
One pitcher stands on the left side of the mound and throws to 1st to start the 1st-2nd rundown. A second pitcher stands in front of the rubber and throws to 2nd to start the 2nd-3rd rundown, and a third pitcher starts on the right side of the mound and throws to 3rd to start the 3rd-home rundown. (Plenty of infielders are available to assume all the roles.)
We allow our pitchers to work on their own at each base, using their quickest move to initiate the rundown between 1st and 2nd.
For the pick-off move to 2nd, the RHP may use his inside move (pivot to his right) or jump-pivot (pivot to his left) to initiate the rundown.
To initiate the rundown between 3rd and home, the RH pitcher must use a special move, borrowing from the tricky LH pickoff at 1st base. He starts stepping toward 3rd base as if to throw to that base, then swings the leg over a bit (to stay legal) and throws to the plate.
Bunt Coverage (10 minutes), using live pitching and specific bunt defenses. We also practice pick-offs off our bunt defense.
First & Third Situations (15 minutes).
Team Defensive Situations (15 minutes), shuttling players in and out to enable them to get enough practice to stay sharp. Situations practiced.
Single to left field, center field, and right field, with nobody on base, runner(s) on 1st or 1st and 2nd, bases loaded, or 3rd base only.
Double to left field, center field, and right field, with nobody on base, runner(s) on 1st or 1st and 2nd, bases loaded, or 3rd base only.
Triple to left field, center field, and right field, with nobody on base, with a runner on 1st, 1st and 2nd, bases loaded, and 3rd base only.
These situations are also practiced on routine fly balls to the outfield, a fly ball off the fence, a fly ball off the scoreboard, and foul fly balls.
Our defensive drills can be a great asset to teams on every level. They allow you to cover all kinds of defensive situations in a short period of time.
Coaches should make sure that the players perform every drill correctly and understand that they will play defense in a game exactly the way they practice it during the week.
(The writer would like to express his appreciation for the assistance tendered by the baseball coaches at Grimsley H.S.: Kyle Hice, J. V. Coach; Greg Cain, Asst. Varsity Coach; Nick Loflin, Asst. J. V. Coach; and Malachi King, Asst. Varsity Coach.)
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|Publication:||Coach and Athletic Director|
|Date:||Jan 1, 1999|
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