Wednesdays Web Gems

Developing defensive baseball instincts

Developing baseball instincts takes time. By time, I mean having a clock in one’s head, which tells players exactly how much time players have to get the ball to where it must go, on time.

Some baseball coaching methods seem so obvious and yet they are rarely used. Such is the case with this defensive baseball coaching method.

One of my favorite college baseball practice memories involved defensive baseball practice. Our practice ending drill had our coach hitting ground balls, position by position, with the goal on all plays completed to first base in 4.3 seconds, or under, or practice did not end. This time restraint held whether we were turning double plays, fielding slow rollers or on normal ground balls. This was quite the challenge and many practices did not end until well after sunset. Of course, this defensive baseball practice drill helped us learn to work efficiently but its intent went beyond that.

Good baseball players develop baseball instincts in all phases of the game. These instincts are just as important for defensive baseball as for offensive baseball. For infielders, these instincts involve developing an acute sense of timing, 4.3 second to be exact, for college level ball. Players begin to learn how much time one has on different paced balls, from slow rollers to double plays to balls in the holes. Defensive baseball drills are necessary to help players develop those necessary baseball instincts that help them know when to hurry and when to take a little more time, as well as how hard to throw balls.

Defensive baseball instincts drill for developing great timing

In an effort to make defensive baseball practices as game-like as possible, youth baseball coaches should take out their stopwatch for infield practices to help players learn exactly how much time they have on all types of ground balls. Of course, because of the various distances on youth ball diamonds, coaches should first time players running to first base. Once times are gathered, teams take their normal infield practice and yell out the time it took players to complete their throws to first. Over time, players develop the necessary sense of timing on all different ground balls, which is a great start with baseball instincts development.

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