Baseball Fielders Come with Different Personalities
Coaching youth baseball fielders is often like coaching baseball hitting – what I have one player do is completely opposite from what I have the next player do. The reason, of course, is that every player has a different baseball personality, leading to different baseball habits. Good coaches adjust to their personnel and design drills that help players overcome bad habits.
Most youth-baseball fielders fall into one of two categories. Half of youth baseball fielders are too aggressive – charging balls immediately, when they should not charge them, or by not getting set when they get to the ball and having to throw off balance.
Other youth baseball fielders are very unaggressive, always laying back and letting the ball play come to them. Finding that happy medium for baseball fielders is the job of the youth baseball coach.
Most coaches prefer the aggressive fielder because kids, who lay back and let the ball play them, risk getting bad hops and risk not having the time to throw the runner out. However, over aggressive baseball fielders often play themselves into bad hops also or are out of control when getting to balls.
- As implied, over aggressive fielders charge first, creating bad angles when getting to balls – to help this, coaches draw two lines in the dirt, slightly in front of the players, with one to their right and one to their left. The lines should be about three feet long. Coaches then hit or roll balls to players left and right, having players not cross the lines, so they have to go around the line first. Over aggressive fielders charge balls before lining them up first, so this drill has them think of lining the ball up before charging it.
- Coaches have players freeze when they catch ground balls, before yelling “now,” when players then proceed with their throw. In this manner, coaches make sure players have the correct fielding footwork and are under control to make a strong throw to target.
With implementation of these fielding drills, over aggressive fielders will line the ball up first and are under control before making their throws.
Helping Un-aggressive Baseball Fielders
Many youth are very un-aggressive baseball fielders, always laying back on ground balls. With these type players, coaches should implement the following fielding drills.
- Coaches draw a line about 10 to 15 feet in front of the player and have them try to catch every ball in front of that line on balls hit or rolled to them. Beginning with slow hit balls is best for this, so players get the idea of charging the ball immediately.
- Coaches set three or four balls on the ground in front of players and on the coach’s command, players run up and see how fast they can pick the balls up. This is a good fielding drill for players who seem fearful of the ball, as setting balls on the ground can help get rid of their un-aggressive and fearful attitude. Along the same lines, using softer balls, as rag balls or tennis balls, with fearful players, is a good idea, too.