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P.L.A.Y. Fastpitch 2012 Winter Fielding Clinic Plan

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1 P.L.A.Y. Fastpitch 2012 Winter Fielding Clinic Plan

2 Instructor Guidelines
Time will go by quickly – try to stay on schedule and maintain a good pace We can adjust the schedule after the first session if necessary Coaches should try to apply or adjust drill to ensure they are age & skill appropriate As you observe group skills, you may want to divide the group to allow for more skill appropriate instruction and drills This is a must if safety is a concern for less skilled players When teaching mechanics – explain the “how” and the “why” the mechanics are important Provide “personalized” feedback on things that a player may be able to work on at home or at open gyms to improve their skills Why learning and skill development is the top priority, try to maintain player interest levels with a incorporating a fast pace and some fun

3 Typical Session Summary Schedule
5 Minutes – warm ups (throwing) Coaches observe throwing mechanics 10 Minutes – throwing mechanics and drills 20 Minutes – infield mechanics and drills 20 Minutes – outfield mechanics and drills 2- 3 minutes wrap-up, review, and “do at home assignments”

4 Throwing

5 Throwing Schedule – 10 Minutes
Younger / less skilled players should focus only on basic mechanics during the throwing session. Players will get more throws in the fielding sessions. 10 Minutes: One drill focused on basic mechanics Footwork Glove position Transition to throwing position Older / more skilled players can use one of the more advanced skill drills if desired (slide labeled additional throwing drills) 10 Minutes: One full motion/progression drill

6 Throwing Basics Continued on next page
Source: Responsible Sports Web Site: ASA Softball: ACE Coaching Manual GRIP **Training Tip**
Draw a stripe on the ball with a black marker. (Figure 1) When we talk about the “stripe” on the ball, this is what we are referring to. The player should grip the ball with two (3) fingers (unless it is a baseball, beginning grip should be 3 fingers), so that the ball is not in the palm of the hand Grip across the seams (large horseshoe) of the ball if possible. The fingers will form a backward “C” around the ball with the middle of the index finger on the stripe. (Figure 2) The little finger will “ride” loosely on the ball. Place the thumb under the ball; the thumb should be underneath the pointer finger. The fingers should cross the seams where the knuckle closest to the fingertips are. This is so the fingers can pull down on the seams during release. The pressure on the ball from the fingers that cross the seams should be evenly distributed. **Coaching Tip** A tight grip on the ball will inhibit your ability to spin the ball. the grip should be firm, but not tight allowing your wrist to stay flexible and create backspin. Figure 1 Continued on next page Figure 2

7 Throwing Basics – pg. 2 ARM CIRCLE AND RELEASE
**Coaching Tip**
When explaining things to young players, talk in terms of “ball side” (throwing hand side) and “glove side. The throwing hand travels in a downward and back motion so that the thumb passes by the thigh, keeping your hand on top of the ball, reaching a position where the palm is facing away from the target above the shoulder (“fingers to the sky”). The back foot begins to pivot and turn the body sideways. The throwing arm is long and loose (elbow not locked); the elbow should be at the same height or slightly higher than the shoulder and the hand is above the head (Figure 3). At this point the front foot has landed and established a firm front side. As the weight transfer (from the back to the front) begins, the elbow leads the arm into the release position above the head in line with the shoulder. The palm has begun to turn forward and the elbow is slightly higher than the shoulder in a vertical line from the elbow to the wrist. There should be a separation that remains even from the head to the elbow all the way to the wrist. The path of the arm circle, from the starting point to the release point, is on the “power line” (straight to the target). For example, the throwing arm should not fall behind the head or body. As the ball is released, the fingers should pull down with force across the seams of the ball (intensity of grip across seams increases during the pull down). The transfer and throw should be against the firm leg. **Coaching Tip**
The thumb leads the hand down toward the ground on release. Follow–through: The hand follows through down and toward the glove-side (opposite) knee. The back leg should continue following through (releasing the back side) The goal at release is to create complete vertical backspin on the ball. The glove-side (non-throwing) arm extends toward the target. The glove-side (non-throwing) shoulder stays on the power line to the target as weight transfer and release occur. Keep the glove hand close to the body through the release and follow-through. **Coaching Tip** When teaching young players, use the phrase “thumb by the thigh, (2)elbow high,(3)fingers to the sky, (4)wave bye-bye, (5) and release the back side” Figure 3

8 Throwing Clinic Progression
Primary Focus Basic Mechanics – 10 minutes Coach Instructions: The throwing segment of the clinic should focus on developing proper throwing mechanics. This segment is only 10 minutes long because players will have the opportunity for more throwing during the other fielding drills. The basic mechanics of throwing a softball were covered on the previous two slides and additional tips are included in the videos. Video demo: How to throw a softball - - UCF Head Coach Basic throwing mechanics drill: do this at the first couple of clinics (or as needed based on player comprehension) Have players pair-up First isolate the upper body by having the player kneel on one knee (throwing-side knee down) Focus on mechanics of grip, wrist snap, ball rotation, arm rotation and extension (“thumb to thigh, reach behind, elbow high, let it fly”) Next have the players stand to work on including the lower body Have the player do a no step throw – rotate glove shoulder to the target, point glove at target, follow-through Finally, the feet are added in the last part of the drill First step (throwing side foot) at 45 degree angle, second step (glove side foot) toward target Note: use the isolation steps above as needed to continue to reinforce good mechanics. Other videos for reference: These could be used to mix up the routine if desired. Mike Candrea - Throwing fundamentals Throwing a Softball - The Fundamentals - Marc Dagenaise ( Wrist Snap Drill - Marc Dagenaise ( This can be done from one knee also (glove side knee up/throwing knee down) Arms only throwing - PlaySportsTV via After wrist snap, this drill isolates that proper arm motion during the throw One knee drill - Marc Dagenaise (

9 Additional Throwing Drills
Coach Instructions: If you feel that your players have a good grasp of the fundamental mechanics, you could use some of the drills below or on the following pages to add variety to the clinic while still developing and coaching throwing mechanics. Throwing on the run - Jennie Finch - Throwing with balance drill - playsportstv via This drill can help players produce more throwing power Softball wall throws - Marc Dagenaise (

10 Additional Throwing Drills
Speed Throwing Drill Divide the team into groups of two. If an uneven number of players are present use a coach to fill one group. One member of each group stands on one baseline, the other member on the opposite baseline. Space groups appropriately to allow for safety. Each group has a ball. On "GO" each team begins throwing the ball back and forth across the field. Each time a team completes one throw and catch they count one point. If the throw is bad, or the ball is not caught, the teams score goes to zero. Allow thirty to sixty seconds for the round and call "STOP". Each team gives its score. The team with the highest score wins and each of those two players gets one point. Then rotate to the left so that all the teams are different. When all teams are set and have a ball, start another round as above. Run as many rounds as the time allotted for the game will allow. At the conclusion the player(s) with the most points are the winner (s). Teaching points: some players will try to keep their throws soft so as not to make an error and have their team score go to zero. Stress that the objective is to throw as hard and fast as possible and develop throwing and catching skills, not just get the best score in this game. Concentrate on developing a good rhythm of moving to the ball to catch it and continuing on with the throwing motion. This is also a good time to watch your players and see who uses two hands and catches the ball properly. After running this contest for several practices the best fielders will almost always end up with the highest number of points.

11 Infield

12 Infield Schedule – 20 Minutes
Choose one drill for each segment below: 10 Minutes: One drill focused on basic mechanics (hand-toss/rolled ball): Footwork Glove position Transition to throwing position 10 Minutes: One full motion/progression drill (batted ball or coach rolled ball– complete motion mechanics)

13 Fielding A Ground Ball – Basic Mechanics
Source: Responsible Sports Web Site: ASA Softball: ACE Coaching Manual While hand-eye coordination is not as crucial in fielding a ground ball, fear of the ball is a big problem. Most kids are scared to death of getting hit by a ball that is bouncing sharply, heading directly toward them. Softballs are not soft and they can hurt young (and older) kids.

The best thing you can do to improve your players’ ability to field ground balls is to remove their fear of the ball by using softer, safety balls. Use safety balls, whiffle balls, tennis balls or any softer ball, that won’t hurt the player if it takes a bad bounce and hits them. Pain and injury are two things that will certainly keep your players from paying attention long enough to ever learn how to field correctly. And with all the great safety balls available now, it doesn’t make any sense for you not to use them. If you are the type of coach who thinks kids just need to take a few grounders off the face until they learn to “stay down on the ball and keep your body behind it,” you are in for a surprise - those days are over. Kids have many choices now as to what sport they want to play and it doesn’t take much - fear, injury, boredom - before they choose to go play something else. So be compassionate and use safety balls when teaching your players how to field ground balls. Here are the basics for fielding a grounder: “Athletic” Ready Position: Knees slightly bent, weight on the balls of the feet, with balance slightly forward. The shoulders, hips and feet are square to the ball. Bend at the knees, not at the waist, to lower the body into good fielding position. Let the arms hang in a relaxed position, fingers down. Hands start in “neutral” position – approximately waist high, thumbs up, palms facing each other. Approach the ball like an airplane. Try to get your players to imagine that they are airplanes coming in for a landing when they approach a ground ball. This will help them get lower to the ground the closer the ball gets to them, instead of approaching the ball like a helicopter and plopping down on top of it at the last minute. If they approach it like a helicopter they will either miss the ball completely or field it behind them. Just prior to gathering the ball into the glove, make sure the tips of the glove are touching the ground (you never want to have to go down for the ball at the last minute – it’s quicker to have the glove close to the ground in anticipation of fielding the ball). (Figure 1) Field the ball with hands in front of the body, palms facing the ball, elbows in front of the knees, elbows slightly bent. Field ball on the glove hand side of the body Gather the ball using “soft” hands. Field the ball with your hands, not with the glove. (Figure 2) Gather the ball through the middle of your body to the throwing side as you move your feet to a throwing position, stepping toward the target. Figure 1 Figure 2

14 Infield Clinic Drill Progression
Basic Mechanics – 10 minutes Coach Instructions: The primary focus of this section is to develop proper ground ball fielding mechanics. The coach or high school player should demonstrate and explain the proper mechanics (per previous slide) so that players see the correct stance, glove position, fielding location (draw a triangle between your feet) throwing transition, etc. Video demo: How to field a softball - - UCF Head Softball Coach Basic “straight-on” mechanics drill: do this at the first couple of clinics (or as needed based on player comprehension) Have players pair-up - they will take turns rolling the ball to each other (10 each then switch – do this for 2 – 3 sets) Note: for younger players you may want to have one player in a good fielding position – the other kneeling with a ball this person acts as the “coach”, ready to roll it to the fielder: The “coach” instructs the fielder to start – watching for good form The fielder begins her step with the foot on her throwing hand side, her glove begins to move out in front of her glove side (Note: have the player pause here before rolling the ball if they are struggling with the mechanics) The fielder then steps with her glove foot, her glove coming down to the ground (like an airplane, not a helicopter) on the throwing foot side of her body – pauses for “coach” to observe proper form – if OK - the “coach” rolls the ball to her The fielder completes the movement by fielding the ball can stepping into a good throwing position Switch positions if using the “younger player approach” so that both players have a chance to field the ball Pick up the pace as skills improve Basic “forehand” mechanics drill Perform the same way as the drill above except that the ball rolls the to the fielder’s glove-hand side Fielder uses proper footwork Get proper knee bend and get the glove on the ground, forehand, in front of the glove-side foot to field the ball Basic “backhand” mechanics drill Perform the same way as the drill above except that the ball rolls the to the fielder throwing-hand side Get proper knee bend and get the glove on the ground, backhand, in front of the throwing-side foot to field the ball

15 Infield Clinic Drill Progression
Full motion field drills – 10 minutes Ground ball progression drills. Video demo: Ground ball drill progression - Mike Candrea, USA Softball Coach Instructions: Explain the basics of the drill with an emphasis on utilizing good mechanics, quickness, and accuracy. Encourage the players to talk and cheer for each other. I have used this drill with my teams and the girls like it because of the fast pace game like situations. Recommendation is to use these drills or variations at all of the clinic sessions Use two or three buckets for the drill and have a coach or assistant rotate the buckets (as in the video) to keep the pace going All coaches should watch player mechanics and provide instruction when mechanics need to improve Catch and throw drill (first drill in the video): always hand roll the ball for this drill Players line up and the coach rolls a grounder to the players, the player throw to a coach positioned about 20 feet away, the player then rotates to the back of the line. The coach then rolls a grounder to the next player. Be sure to simulate a variety of ground balls (straight-on, forehand, back hand, slow roller, one hop, etc.) Note: This drill can be effective at any age. For younger or less skilled players, you may need to reduce the speed and/or complexity of the grounders. Rotate several times through the line until each player has seen each of the various grounder types several times. Note: if you have enough coaches you can break the team into two groups s to increase the pace of the drill Catch and throw drill (second drill in the video): this drill can be varied by either rolling the ball (early clinics) or hitting the ball and by throwing to “second” or “first” base Slit the group in two. One group lines up at “third base” the other at “second base”. The coach rolls a grounder to the players, the player throw to the player at second, each player rotates to the back of their line (player at second drops the ball in a bucket. The coach then rolls a grounder to the next player who throws to second, etc. Rotate several times through the line until each player has seen each of the various grounder types several times, then have the groups switch between “third” and “second” and repeat the drill

16 Additional Infield Videos
Coach Instructions: These videos are primarily for reference. If you feel that your players have a good grasp of the fundamental mechanics, you could use some of the drills below or on the following pages to add variety to the clinic while still developing and coaching fielding mechanics. That said, every session should include at least one “basic” drill that breaks down the fielding mechanics. John Tshida (UST coach) - Building infielder confidence A drill focused on isolating the mechanics of fielding grounders in a confidence building progression. The Everyday Drill - The Fastpitch Softball TV Show - NFCA Camp This is a good drill to isolate the glove position and ball exchange on various types of grounders and could be used as a “basic” fielding mechanics drill. Soft hands fielding drill - Farmington HS coach This is a variation on basics mechanics drill that uses bare hands to emphasis players using soft hands Ground balls from the knees drill - Mike Candrea Basic mechanics drill the helps players learn when to turn the glove up and when to use the backhand (could do this is pairs) How to eliminate fear of the ball - Marc Dagenais - A talk on how to reduce fear of the ball. A more in-depth discussion of what John Tshida covered in his video. No drills in this video. Fielding the slow roller - Mike Candrea Improve softball footwork - MarcDagenais -

17 Additional Fielding Drills
Butterfly Relay Drill Divide your players into two equal groups. Each group will "run" the relay course against the clock or the other group. Player vs. player can be fun and exciting but also runs the risk of players colliding and falling. Running against the clock is less risky. The relay course is set up as a square using four small red cones or the bases. The course would have four corners 60 feet apart if the bases are used or you can set the cones at whatever distance you choose. A forty feet square is about the shortest distance for a good relay (shorter distance is recommended for younger players in the clinic). Players are lined up at the starting cone or base. The first player begins when the coach says "GO". Each player runs the course as shown in the diagram below. When a player finishes the course that player tags the next player in line who then "runs" the course, and so on until all players have run. If you are running player vs. players the first team to finish wins that relay. If you are running vs. the clock the faster time wins. Each player on the winning team gets one point. Then mix up the teams and run another relay (time permitting). Keep the time of each winning team. At the end of the drill determine which team had the fastest time. Each of the players on that team receives an extra point. When all relays have been completed determine which player(s) have the highest number of points. That player(s) are the winners for the day. (simplify the score if desired) Objectives:
- Utilize the element of competition.
- Work on quickness and footwork. How Many Bounces Drill This is a simple drill many coaches use to emphasize keeping your eye on the ball. Basically, the player calls out the number of times the ball bounces on the way to their glove. You may have seen it used for younger players learning the basics. But it's a good way to get back to basics for older more experienced players as well.

18 Outfield

19 Outfield Clinic Plan Choose one drill for each segment below:
10 Minutes: One drill focused on mechanics (hand-toss): Footwork Glove position Transition to throwing position 10 minutes: Second drill (longer toss – complete motion) Fast pace drills with run – catch – throw complete motion

20 Fielding A Fly Ball – Basic Mechanics
Basic Mechanics – 10 minutes Video overview: Basics of catching a fly ball - via Coach Instructions: Demonstrate the proper mechanics of fielding a fly ball using the information from the video above. Glove open like a plate, not like a taco Thumbs up and hands in front of the body Catch a ball below the waist with slight turn down of the glove (“balls down then fingers to the ground”) Catch a ball above the waist with a slight turn up of the glove (“balls high then fingers to the sky”) Balls hit right at the waist…keep thumbs up to catch the ball Line up the bellybutton to the ball (feet in position to throw if time allows) Catch the ball with two hands with glove and hands in front of your body (i.e., don’t reach back over your head) Additional Basic Mechanics: ASA/USA Softball Fundamentals of Outfield The concepts in this video should be used after you are comfortable that the players understand the basics above. In addition to discussing the qualities of an outfielder, the video covers Set position Ready position First step (getting a jump with the drop step) Crossover step Pump your arms when you run Angles to the ball Squaring shoulders to make the play (time permitting)

21 Fielding A Fly Ball – Basic Mechanics (cont.)
Coach Instructions: This video covers the mechanics and methods of fielding a ground ball and fly balls in the outfield. This is purely optional, only progress to these fundamentals when if you feel that your group is ready for more advance instruction. Only older or more advanced skilled clinic groups should focus on this. Younger and less skilled players should focus on the mechanics on the previous slide. The ground ball work done in the infield sessions should be sufficient for younger players. Video: Fielding outfield grounders and catching fly balls - USA/ASA softball - John Rittman and Leah O'Brien-Amico Three methods of fielding a grounder in the outfield Infield style – see infield section of the clinic for the mechanics “Do or die method” - used to try to throw a player out on a ball hit to the outfield (e.g., a player at home plate) Option 1: Charge the ball and field the ball outside of glove side foot, come-up with one step and throw Option 2: Change the ball and field on the inside of the throwing side foot, take an extra step (gathering step) before throwing the ball Go down on one knee – to be sure you keep the ball in front of you Go down on your throwing hand knee (glove hand knee up) and form a blockade for the ball – field the ball Stand, square-up to make an accurate throw to the target Catching fly balls – finer points covered here and are probably only applicable to more advanced clinic participants: Getting behind the ball 3 steps before catching it Judging fly balls and changing direction (if necessary) to make the catch

22 Full Motion Drills – 10 minutes
Outfield Full Motion Drills – 10 minutes Drop Step Drill Video demo: Drop step drill - Jennie Finch - Coach Instructions: You may want to break the players into two groups. Demonstrate the proper mechanics of fielding a fly ball using the drop step information from the video above. Each player should have a ball if possible (speeds the drill up if you don’t have to throw) Take a hard drop step Pump the arms when running (don’t run with your glove up – it slows you down) – never back-peddle Go straight to the ball Avoid the shutter step A variation on the drop step drill: Drop step drill - You may want to use this drop step drill for some variation

23 Full Motion Drills – Variation
Outfield Full Motion Drills – Variation Coach Instructions: You should teach the drop step drill before using this drill. This drill can be used as a variation after the drop step drill is covered and the players show at least basic proficiency. Hustle Drill Video demo: Must have outfield drills - - Carol Bruggeman (U of Louisville) Note: the video is a little long but this drill is the first one described in the video. There are other drills in the video. The drill is described below. This drill is described and demonstrated on a stage at a coach’s clinic in the video above. Basically this combines a drop-step drill with a low-ball (below the waist) or a dive drill. It also requires the player to hustle to make the 4 catches in the drill. Space permitting, you may want to break into two groups. Encourage good mechanic (drop step, proper glove position, good throw) as well as hustle Include throwing / tossing after the catch to drill the entire fielding and throwing process. The coach throws 4 throws to each player who rotate in rapid succession (break into two groups if space permits) Steps: First throw is a drop-step over the head throw Second throw is low – below the waist Throw is a drop step, over the head throw Final throw is below the waist (dive if possible) Note: player makes a good throw back to the coach after each catch 1 3 Over head throw Below waist throw Over head throw Below waist or dive throw 4 2 Start Coach

24 Other Outfield Drills Catching on the run drill - Jennie Finch -

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