Help Your Players Improve Their Drop Step and Catching Skills with This Softball Fielding Drill
A number of fielding drills focus on building the skills of your infielders. That’s certainly important, but outfielders also need work. There are specific moves that outfielders must learn by heart, and this drill will help teach two of those – the drop step and catching over their throwing side shoulder. Like the infield wall drill, this one is very simple, and requires very little in the way of equipment. It does require pairs of players (or a player and the coach).
A Look at the Drill
The outfield wall drill is a variation of the infield version. It uses a Zip Ball, as well as a brick wall (or other hard surface wall). Note that none of your outfielders should have their gloves. Start off as a pair – you (the coach) and one outfielder. You should both be positioned about five feet away from the wall. Throw the Zip Ball at the top portion of the wall, so that it bounces off as a fly ball. You may need to throw it hard to get it to bounce off with the right arc. You can also have the outfielder move closer to the wall to catch the ball in its natural arc from a softer throw, but be aware that this brings elements of obstruction aversion into the drill (yet another bad habit that needs to be trained away).
The first part of this drill is simply to help the outfielder work on her drop step while catching the ball (drop step in both directions). Once they have become comfortable with that, you can add in the second element, which is drop stepping back on the ball while catching over their throwing shoulder. Finally, combine both elements into a single drill.
You can set your outfielders up in pairs for this drill (leaving you free to observe). Have one player throw the ball, and the other field it, then throw it back, with the previous thrower now becoming the fielder. They can go back and forth as many times as possible – time each pair to add a little more challenge to the mix. Don’t let them wear gloves until they have become very comfortable catching it with their bare hands.
You can change things up with this drill very easily as well. Form your outfielders into a line and have them field and throw to each other, with each player throwing hard at the top of the wall, to ensure it arcs out properly as a fly ball.
Players that miss balls or fail to adjust their body correctly (limiting backward momentum before throwing forward) should be penalized. Keep these fun and enjoyable, but enough that the player knows they’re being penalized.
Tips and Tricks
Like the infield wall drill, the outfield wall drill is ideal for use in a variety of situations. It can be easily tailored for indoor use in a gym, and it can be done with a player and a partner during off-field time as well. Make sure that players are using Zip Balls during any practice off the field, though, and that they are using hard-surface walls. Wood fences and the like can serve in a pinch, but you’ll find that brick and cinder block surfaces provide the best rebound with little absorption of force.
Players who want to attempt this type of drill at home during solo practice will need a partner to throw the ball at the top of a wall (any partner will do, including parents and siblings).