By Shelley Whitaker, A-Game Sports Softball Instructor
Excellence is not derived from an act, but a habit. And a habit is developed from repetitive practice. Therefore, the best players practice the basic skills of their game every day. The best way to accomplish daily glove work is through the following sequence of “partner dailies.”
Line one person up on the first base line and have a partner stand about 8 feet in front of them with the ball. On the coach’s command of “down,” the player on the line assumes the infield fielding position (feet a little wider then shoulder-width apart, knees bent, weight on the balls of the feet, glove out in front).
- “Roll ’em” – the player with the ball rolls a slow grounder to the player on the line in the center of their body. The fielder uses good fielding technique (glove fingers out creating a triangle between their feet and glove, looking the ball into the glove, covering the ball with the throwing hand while staying low) and then flips the ball back to the partner. This continues for 10 rolls with the fielder staying “down” the entire time.
- “Go” – The player with the ball tosses a one hopper (using an underhand toss about 10 inches in front of the fielder) to the center of the fielder’s body. The fielder fields the ball using good technique and flips the ball back to their partner. (Repeat 10 times)
- “Toss ’em” – The player with the ball tosses a one hopper to the fielder’s glove side. The fielder fields it and flips it back to the tosser. (Repeat 10 times then do the same to the fielder’s backhand 10 times)
- “Back it Up” – The player with the ball moves back to a distance of about 40 feet. On “go” the tosser throws a slow roller toward the fielder. The fielder must charge the ball hard, field it and give an easy flip back to the tosser. (Repeat 10 times)
- “Pop Up” – At the same 40’ distance, the tosser throws a pop up to the fielder. The fielder moves under the ball, turns their body sideways so the glove shoulder is pointing back at the target, catches the ball on their glove shoulder and makes a good throw back to the tosser’s chest.
The focus of these drills is fundamentals – technique over speed. The fielder and partner switch after each portion of the sequence. Remember, repetition builds confidence and confidence is the key to success!