Covering First Base:† Drills
†Drill 1:† First Basepersonís One-handed Drill
1. Purpose:† To help the first baseperson gain confidence and competence in using one hand to stretch for the ball.
2. Organization:† Players work in groups of two; players within each group are spaced 60 to 90 feet apart.† Players stretch with the glove hand to receive a thrown ball while keeping the throwing hand in their back pocket.† Throws should vary from side to side, and from high to low.
3. Coaching Points:† The first baseperson should always stretch to the ball.† When catching the ball, the glove-side arm should be slightly flexed in order to absorb the force of the ball.† The first baseperson should not jump in order to catch the ball unless absolutely necessary.† If a jump is necessary, the first baseperson should propel the body upward with the glove-side leg and land on the throwing-side foot.
4. Comments on the Drill:† This drill can be modified to include moving to the bag from base position.† The player could stand off the base and then move to the bag as the other person prepares to throw the ball.† Just repeatedly following the motions may help a player to remember his or her position in an actual game.
†Drill 2:† First Basepersonís Scoop Drill
1. Purpose:† To facilitate throws in the dirt.
2. Organization:† Players throw softball back and forth so that all throws bounce in the dirt.† Players should practice stretching to the ball and fielding the short hop.
3. Coaching Points:† The glove should be open and low to the ground.† The arm and hands should absorb the force of the throw.† The eyes should follow the ball into the glove.
a. Infielders can throw the ball into the dirt to the first baseperson during regular infield practice.
b. Other infielders involved in force plays can also participate in the drill.
c. Dressing the first baseperson in a catcherís mask and shin guards to eliminate the fear of fielding the balls in the dirt.
d. Use tennis balls for less-skilled players.
5. Comments on the Drill:† I really liked this drill for the modification that it offered as well.† I think these progressive steps are accurate, precise, and helpful.
Drill 3:† Fielding Bad Throws
1. Purpose:† To develop skills to catch bad throws at any base.
a. A tosser sets up with a bucket of balls ten to fifteen feet away from a player at the base, and the fielder positions his or herself at the base with his or her body and feet facing the tosser, as if he or she was ready to make a force out.† This drill can also be practiced with infielders at their respective bases with multiple throwing partners.
b. The tosser throws the balls that either hit the dirt or are wide to one side of the bag.† As the ball is thrown, the fielder shuffles his or her feet to catch the ball in the center of his or her body.
c. Rotate players throw ten times each, allowing them to successfully field eight or ten bad throws.
3. Coaching Points:† If the ball is wide but not in the dirt, the fielder should shuffle to the proper side and then kick back with his or her right foot (for right handers), the player can switch feet and kick back with the left foot to field a ball thrown severely to the right.† If the ball is thrown in the dirt, the fielder should kick back with his or her right foot; step out with his or her left leg; bend his or her knees, touching the ground if necessary; reach out with his or her glove hand, keeping the glove flat with the pocket facing up (as when fielding a ground ball); and scoop the ball as he or she would a grounder.† He or she should give with the ball, bending his or her elbows back toward their body with soft hands.† As soon as possible, the player should place his or her throwing hand on top of the ball.† If necessary, the player must leave the base to get the ball to stop an errant throw.† Players must not allow the ball to get past the base.
4. Comments on the Drill:† This is by far my least favorite drill, but I think with some adjustments it could be a very helpful drill.† First of all, have the first baseperson set up in his or her fielding position.† Then have the tosser smack his or her glove to signal the first baseperson to move to the bag.† The first baseperson moves and the tosser purposely makes an errant throw the first baseperson.† The first baseperson then makes the appropriate decision and stops or catches the ball.
Craig, S. & Johnson, K.† (1985).† The softball handbook.† Champaign:† Human Kinetics Inc.
Elliot, J. & Ewing, M.† (1992).† Youth softball:† a complete handbook.† Dubuque:† Brown & Benchmark.
Joseph, J.† (1998).† Defensive softball drills.† Champaign:† Human Kinetics Inc.
Kestner, J.† (1992).† Coaching youth softball.† Champaign, Human Kinetics Inc.
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