To ace baseball, you will have to know the fundamentals first. And the ground ball work is most certainly one of the primary things to master.
Whether you are a beginner or simply trying to level up your game with new approaches, these drills will be of immense help so that you never skip a grounder ever.
1. Triangle Drill
The triangle drill is pretty straightforward. It is a very suitable one that beginners can practice. You can start by drawing a triangle on the ground, or you can use the baseballs as a marking point as well.
The infielder must sit in such a way that the knees form the foundation of the triangle. Then, he should place the ball in the apex position, which the infielder has to guard.
In the triangle drill, the knees remain stationary—wrist alignment with the elbow and the forearm matters a lot. Position your fingers downwards, but do not make it too steep or touch the ground.
Now make the base wider by taking an athletic stance while keeping your palm ready to grab the ball. Take a step with the right foot and lower your body for retrieving the grounder.
As soon as you do so, reposition your stature and prepare yourself to throw it promptly. To do this drill, per person will require about fifteen minutes of time.
2. Drop Step Ground Ball Drill
This one is quicker if you compare it to a ‘triangle drill.’ This particular drill is simple to perform. Here the fielder drops steps backward in order to get ahead of the baseball.
The pitcher who is rolling the baseball to the infielder throws a grounder in the direction of the infielder.
The aim should be set from about 10 feet from where the infielder is standing. It is of immense importance that at this point, the player must focus on the ball solely and lower their body to retrieve it.
The possibilities of notching up the intensity of this drill are many. For instance, the partner can increase the distance so that the infielder has to pace up in order to get ahead of the grounder.
The infielder can also enhance the difficulty of this drill by not using gloves. They can as well switch between using single and both the hands to perform it. Partners should practice it for ten times.
3. Ground Fundamentals
The infielder places three baseballs in designated spots so that it forms a triangle. He positions the top ball a tad on the left side. Now taking stutter steps, the infielder comes forward towards the grounder. He stops taking the stutter steps and takes the first real step.
At this point, he has to remember to place the thumb in the outward direction and not upwards.
The infielder's chest should be right above his toes. The feet must be gapped wide, and the chest has to be semi-touching the thighs. Players must keep their backs flat. In case the fielder isn’t doing well, he can try pointing his Adam apple towards the baseball.
Their hands have to be right in front of their cap's brim. If he compromises with this, he will miss the sight of the ball in an instant.
As the player retrieves the ball, he must align his body with the left eye. This will render the left hand for a better give. The infielder must understand that aligning his body towards the left is essential as the direction of the baseball game is Left.
If the infielder’s body is not properly aligned, and the grounder slips from the glove of the player, it has a high chance of going in the right direction, which can hamper the game as it is not the direction of the game.
4. Left-Right Catch Drill
You need just one object for this one— a baseball glove, that’s all! The main purpose of this ground drill is for the player to remain close to the field and perfect the posture. Take one step with your right foot towards the ground. Let your left foot follow. The player moves on the field as though he were about to receive the ball.
When the player is ready, he taps the glove for two times on the field. You don't need any ball for this drill. It’s actually more about mock fielding. Here, perfecting your stance stands prime. Now repeat what you have just done— right foot forward, left foot follows, tap-tap!
In this drill, the player chooses to move in any direction, vertical or horizontal. You should practice making your body stay in a low position in which you are comfortable receiving the ball.
The back must remain flat. Your arm should be ready and lie just above the ground. You should make sure that the fingers do not contact the ground. In such a case, you will require more time to retrieve if the ground ball hops off in an unanticipated angle.
5. Momentum Infield Drill
The purpose of this ground ball drill is to take your momentum around the grounder notches higher. The infielder can do this drill with or without an assisting partner. First, take three cones and then keep it at an equal distance from one another so that they form a triangular shape. The distance can be anywhere between five and seven feet.
If there is no throwing partner, take the baseball and position just a foot ahead of the triangle's tip. The infielder stands in front of one of the cones at the base and gets in the ready posture.
If the dominant foot of the player is the right one, then this drill calls for a right-left footing arrangement. The infielder does not run straight towards the ball. Instead, he goes about the triangle to get to the apex. If there is a thrower, they will roll the ball so that the player can perfect their momentum.
6. Stationery and Movement Ground Balls Drill
For this drill, one needs multiple balls as well as one exclusive throwing partner. Here, the infielder is at a distance of 10 feet from the actual thrower. The fielder positions himself low and without gloves. Now the throwing partner rolls balls in succession.
It is the job of the player to grab each grounder and roll it in the direction of the thrower. Then he is met with another similar throw from the other side.
If one wishes to increase the intensity, they can add a horizontal movement. During this time, the back has to be flat, and the chest should almost be touching the thighs. They must focus on their feet. Due to the horizontal movements, it is easy for the player to skid. You will have to be careful as this can hamper the form of the infielder.
7. On Knees Fielder Drill
As the name suggests, the ‘On Knees Fielder Drill’ requires a player to be on his knees. There are two prerequisites to it— a baseball and one throwing partner. The infielder should posture his knees in a relatively wide manner. Before the thrower rolls the grounder, the infielder should practice some mock fielding.
It gives him the zeal and shapes his form. Once the infielder has performed it a few times, then the thrower can roll a grounder.
The player should still be on their knees. It is best if the thrower is within a range of 10 to 15 meters from the fielder. The player must do it without any gloves. An infielder can also shuffle between doing this drill with a single and both the hands.
Once the player fields the ball, he must bring it towards the center of the chest and keep his elbow out while doing so.
8. The Line Drill
There are two ways to perform the ‘line drill.’ First, the player can use a tape to draw a line. Second, they can simply mark a straight line on the ground. Now position a few balls along the line. These balls should have the same distance between them.
The infielder stands a couple of feet far from where the line begins. The player will have to pre-pitch clear himself by getting into the stance first. An ''L'' shape pattern must be followed to approach the ground ball by the player.
The infielder engages their right foot to step forward and then their left foot to bring themself on the left side of the demarcated line. Their back must be flat, and the body should be low. Once he fields the grounder, he shuffles two times to the left, while he still has the baseball in his glove.
The infielder can also take the help of a throwing partner to throw the ball. In such a case, he would approach the ground ball in the pattern of the "L" shape. All the while, he shall concentrate so that his left eye perfectly aligns with the ground ball.
9. Ladder Infield Drill
The 'ladder infield drill' is partly similar to the 'line infield drill.' You need five baseballs and an agility ladder for it. Lay the ladder down and keep the baseballs on a single side of the athletic ladder in a line. The balls should have equal gaps between them.
As the player advances towards the ladder, their right foot should lead, followed by their left foot. He has to place a foot in a horizontal position within a single square of the athletic ladder at a time. Once the player reaches the still ball, he does not engage in funneling it.
The infielder steps outside the ladder, with the right foot first. The infielder must repeat this rap until he arrives at the finish point of the athletic ladder, where the fifth baseball is placed. He throws the fifth ball towards the target.
10. Backhand Drill
You will need a glove and tennis balls for the ‘backhand drill.’ First, put on the glove and get into the posture. This part mainly focuses on developing your posture. Hence, this includes some mock backhand playing, without the use of a real ball.
The hands of the player should be very close to the ground and remain in that position throughout. The majority of the weight of the infielder's body should be on their back leg.
The 2nd part involves tennis ground balls. The thrower pitches the tennis ball from a distance of twenty feet. A tennis glove is not worn by the player. As the ground ball is retrieved by the player, he taps it right back towards the throwing partner by using his hand or fingers.
The 3rd part includes tapping the tennis ball in a backhand position in the drill. You can also increase the difficulty quotient with another part. In this part, you pitch the balls on either side, instead of rolling a regular grounder.
11. Ladder Variation Drill
The drill requires a baseball and one agility ladder. The throwing partner and the infielder must stand at the opposite ends of the athletic ladder. After this, the player skips hops and jumps through this ladder by doing several, well-defined feet exercises.
A few of the exercises that the player can do in this drill are shuffle, in and out, toe taps, high knees, and quick feet.
When the infielder reaches the end of the athletic ladder, the thrower rolls a grounder. The player might or might not be using the gloves. Or, he can switch between using it and fielding without it. If the player practices toe tabs along the ladder horizontally, the thrower can pitch a backhand ground ball in the direction of the player.
To get it just right, practice backhand groundballs for 15 minutes and dedicate another fifteen for the regular ones.
12. Infielder Toss Drill
This drill mandates having two infielders along with a baseball. It is relatively tougher than all the others we have discussed so far. This drill might not be the best choice for teaching beginners. If you have some experience, you can start right now.
Two infielders stand at a distance of twenty feet. Both the players must not leave their fielding position. Each acts as a pitcher to the other. All the throws must be in close proximity to the ground. However, they might touch the ground once in a while, but not frequently.
The players can switch between using a baseball glove and setting it aside. They must concentrate upon catching the grounder with just one hand at a time. The pitches are rapid in this one. Hence, this drill requires a high degree of focus and stamina.
13. Infield Shuffle Drill
Having a thrower is a mandatory thing for this type of drill as well. Of course, you will need a baseball too. The pitcher and the infielder stand at a distance of about twenty-five feet.
Next, the thrower pitches the ball either towards the left or the right of the player. The player must constantly change his direction and run to get behind the grounder to keep up with the pace.
Once retrieved, the fielder rolls the ground ball back to the partner. Then the partner rolls in another ball in the opposite direction. The infielder must promptly change his direction to retrieve the other ball. It does not require the player to use a glove.
14. Knees with Backhand Drill
This drill requires some expertise before one can start practicing it. You would need a thrower for this drill. The distance between the throwing partner and the player is about thirty feet. In this drill, the infielder stays tall while kneeling.
After the position is set, the fielder and the thrower practice fielding for a little time, then add backhand fielding to their practice. This gradually turns up the dial of intensity and helps to gain momentum.
The pitcher rolls the ground ball, and the infielder retrieves it. He promptly returns the ball back to the thrower. The infielder must keep in mind that his fingers should be steeping towards the ground so that the ground ball does not hop away. This drill takes about 15 throws or more.
15. Stationary Ball Line Drill
Draw a straight line on the ground and then station four balls on it. The gap between the balls should be five yards. This drill involves mock funneling. The player approaches the balls and pretends on funneling it.
Then he does the same with the next ball. This continues until he reaches the fourth baseball. On reaching the final one, the player shuffles away, leading with his right foot.
After the repositioning, the ball lies opposite to the glove. The player needs adjustment in his fielding and posture with each change. He has to get behind the ground ball quickly for a better throw. His left eye has to be aligned with the ground ball, even if he is towards the left side of it.
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