The single best way to improve fielding is intuitive. By actually fielding ground balls on the baseball field, players are able to work on their mechanics and refine this important skill. Below is an outline of position-specific fielding drills.
Player Position Drills
- Catchers should practice receiving the ball, footwork for throwing to all bases and blocking the ball. Fielding bunts and popups are also great drills for this position.
- Pitchers should focus on fielding bunts, double plays as well as routine ground balls. The importance of practicing the pickoff move cannot be overstated.
- Infielders should focus on footwork drills (moving side to side, charging slow rollers, backhands) for not only fielding ground balls but also getting their feet set on cutoff throws and turning double plays.
- Outfielders should focus on hitting cutoff men and tracking down fly balls.
Lateral Force Production
Fielding is a skill that needs to be mastered through practice, but baseball players also need to improve their athleticism—and more specifically, their lateral force production. Many coaches believe that basic agility drills with ladders and cones will improve lateral quickness and improve fielding range, but this is wrong. To improve lateral force production (and thus fielding range), athletes need to learn how to apply force to the ground while moving laterally.
The agility ladder may have merit for young, uncoordinated athletes. However, most high school baseball players master these drills too easily to get any benefit from them. Also, these drills work on developing quick feet, not force production. I recommend that high school athletes use lateral jumping drills. This is the ultimate way to improve a player's fielding range and ability to move his feet side to side.
Below are my top three weight room drills to improve this important skill:
Lateral Broad Jumps
- Start in athletic position
- Push back foot to ground and jump laterally as far as possible
- Perform reps as quickly as possible
- Start in athletic stance
- Load up back leg and then explosively jump off leg
- Land on opposite leg; repeat movement
Lateral Reactive Jumps
- Start in athletic stance
- Do two small lateral jumps as quickly as possible
- Immediately perform two larger lateral jumps as quickly as possible
- Finish with two Heidens
Sets/Reps: 3x2 each jump
Add these drills into your training program. I guarantee your fielding range will improve. Do you have a question or comment? Send me an email at Joe@MeglioPerformance.com and I will get right back to you!
Joe Meglio is a strength and conditioning coach at the Underground Strength Gym in Edison, N.J. He is STACK's Expert of the Month for February 2012. Mentored by one of the brightest minds in the strength and conditioning industry, Zach Even-Esh, Meglio has worked with athletes at the high school, college and professional level. He specializes in training baseball players. Besides being a strength coach, Meglio competed in his first powerlifting meet in 2010, setting the New Jersey state record for Squat, Deadlift and total in his weight class and division. He graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University in May 2011, following his final season as captain of the baseball team. For more information, please go to MeglioFitness.com.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock