In softball, fielding is an essential defensive skill that begins with the very basics of throwing and catching. As young players increase their softball knowledge and skills they learn how to handle grounders, slow rollers, bunts, pop-ups, fly balls, and line drives. They learn about throwing hard to first, throwing to the cut, shooting for home, under hand flips, and glove flips. As they get older, they start to specialize in regard to position play. You’ll have those that are better in the infield, those that prefer the outfield, and your pitchers and catchers.
This page will be a jumping off point to help you find fielding drills to help you develop your players.
Good defensive fielding is often the difference in the outcome of the game. In order to become a good defensive player young players need to learn proper fielding technique. Whether playing infield or outfield, it is important to start with a balanced base in order to quickly react to the ball when it is hit. That means feet should be about shoulder width apart, and most of their weight should be on the balls of their feet. Players’ knees should be bent with a slight lean forward at the waist, and with their backsides low to the ground.
Infielders should have their glove hand extended out in front of their body, with their glove upright on the ground (like they are ready to scoop up a ground ball). This position is typically called ready position. As players get older you can teach them how to take prep steps before getting into ready position. Prep steps involve taking 1 to 2 steps forward as the pitcher is in her wind up and then getting into ready position in order to pounce on the ball when it is hit. Players need to be taught to field ground balls out in front of their body with their non-glove hand covering the ball when it enters the glove. For younger players, this is typically called feeding the alligator or alligator arms to help them remember the motion and what they are supposed to do with their arms.
Outfielders, on the other hand, should have one foot slightly back. This foot will generally act as a pivot foot in order to the fielder to take a drop step to either her left or right depending upon where the ball is hit. For young softball players, 8u, there, generally, won’t be much opportunity to field fly balls in the outfield but you can teach them how to get used to pop ups by getting under the ball, putting their hands up, and catching with two hands. For this age, it is important to use soft, foam balls for these types of drills or even tennis balls until the players start improving and becoming more confident.
Once your fielder has the ball in her glove she needs to transfer it to her throwing hand, pivot so that her glove arm shoulder is facing the direction she wants the ball to travel, and bring the ball up to make the throw to where she’s aiming it. For younger players, accuracy is going to take some time but you should start working with them on the basic form and work on throwing progressions to help with development in this area.
Keep in mind that this is a general introduction to throwing and that we’ll have more tips and drills coming your way.