Fielding Curriculum by Jeff Kane
Fielding: Basic Curriculum
This beginner’s Fielding Curriculum has three basic components: Walk-in to Breakdown, Fielding Position, and Funnel to Balance/Throwing Position. The drills provided are geared towards younger infielders, but I will be happy to provide more in-depth drills for more advanced players if needed. Please feel free to ask any questions at the end of the presentation.
Walk in to Breakdown
- Creep in—start deep and creep towards home plate
- Break down—as ball is crossing home plate
- Knees bent (stripe forms letter “L”)
- Show the ball the palm, elbow in
- Balance—weight on balls of feet, ready to pounce
- Show ball/home plate the palm, glove out front, “on a hinge”—NO FLIPPING!!!
- Knees bent—emphasis on “playing low”
- Why??— The lower we play the further we can field the ball out in front, the better we can judge hops on balls hit right at us (same plane as ball), the softer our hands are.
- Always field ball “out to in/down to up”…soft hands
- Why field ball as far out in front as possible??—we can see the ball better, we can be softer w/ balls hit harder, better chance to adjust, easier transfer
- Top hand working all the time (not off to the side)
- Back Flat/Head on Ball—back shouldn’t be arched
- Feet Square to the Ball (or left foot slightly ahead)
- Field ball “Middle or Better” (preferably off the glove-hand eye). Also called “triangle or better”, meaning they should try and make a triangle w/ both feet and where they field the ball
- Why “middle or better”??—fielding the ball in the middle or off the glove hand eye ensures that our glove stays OPEN…letting ourselves field balls off the right foot slightly closes the glove. Also, it makes for a tougher transfer, and takes away our momentum through the ball
Funnel to Balance/Throwing Position
- Always funnel to the middle of the body (belly button), not off to side
- Why??—middle of body is where we have BALANCE---balance=good feet=accurate throws.
- Checkpoints for throwing: feet square to target, shoulders square to target, BALANCE, use glove or elbow as a scope
- Always Crow hop by either replacing the feet or going in front
- Why?? Crossing over in back takes us AWAY from our target
- Try and throw w/ Arm up—reduce tail on ball as much as possible
- Finish w/ momentum towards target (no falling off or recoiling)
- Why??—the more momentum we have to our target, the more life on the ball....falling off to one side or another (or backwards) costs us velocity
Fielding: Advanced Curriculum
As players get more advanced in age, skill and ability, these are some of the themes we can touch on…I will be more than happy to answer questions or provide drills for these types of themes if we have time.
- Footwork/Momentum through the ball—focus on infielders getting more momentum towards first base, leading to better accuracy and velocity on throws and starts them thinking about “creating angles”.
- Learning to read hops—always want to get yourself the best hops possible…either long hops (balls at the apex of their bounce or on the way down), or short hops. Never field the ball on the way up!
- Double play turns and footwork
- Slow-roller approaches—glove down, two hands down or bare-handed, extreme focus on footwork and throwing on the run…very difficult for beginner and intermediate players.
- Forehand/Backhand Approach—focus on footwork and hands for forehands and backhands
- Creep drill- simulate a pitching wind up and have players creep and breakdown right about at release point
- Two knee bare-hand drill—focus on showing palm, using two hands and filling in, fielding in “middle or better” and back flat
- Variations: have player use his glove, make sure it is “on a hinge” meaning it’s not flat on the ground
- Standing bare-hand drill- same as previous drill, but now on feet, working on same themes but including lower half
- Variation: have players use glove, funnel in, move feet and square to target, w/ hands together in middle of the body
- Short hop drill—get player in fielding position, throw short hops out in front and to middle
- Variation: work forehand and backhand, but only if player is told how to approach each
- Pick ups—have players play low/stay low moving side to side w/ a quick cross-over first step, field ball in middle, funnel up
- Still ball drill: place ball out in front of player, simulating where they will field the ball, and have the player move to the ball and get into the correct fielding position
- Walk in/ Roll Drill—make sure player gets in good fielding position and fields the ball “middle/triangle or better”.
- Variation: have player funnel in and set his feet. Also can incorporate the crow hop/replacing the feet and gaining momentum to target. This can be done w/ glove, bare hand or paddles
Mass Drill for Infielders (for use at practices)
Keys: Do your best to make sure that all players are active and there is very little down time. The best way for young players to learn the game is by repetition. You must find a way to maximize the number of repetitions of the correct drills and actions in order for players to improve. Always use balls that won’t injure or scare players (usually softies or tennis balls) and will build confidence.
Set up as many lines as needed, w/ each focusing on a different aspect of fielding
Line 1: Barehanded Fielding
Line 2: Wooden Paddle Fielding
Line 3: Balls hit right at them (w/ glove on)
Line 4: Balls to right (w/ glove)
Line 5: Balls to Left (w/ glove)
Line 6: Claws
Mass Drills for Outfielders
Partner Drop-Step Drill- emphasis on footwork, leading w/ glove foot, and “getting behind the ball”
Partner Look Away Drill- emphasis on finding the ball
Over-the-Shoulder Football Drill- emphasis on catching on the run
Athletic Plays Drill- emphasis on dives/layouts
NOTE: ALL THESE CAN BE DONE W/O USING A BAT!!! LOTS OF REPETITION AND LOTS OF FUN FOR THE PLAYERS!!!
Live Fly Balls—w/ bat, but variation can be w/ tennis ball/racket
Live Ground balls
- Safety Stance- glove knee down (only w/ nobody on)
- Regular Infielder Stance (w/ runners on but no immediate play
- Do or Die- field outside the glove foot