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Fielding Practice as kids get older

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  • Fielding Practice as kids get older

    How do you recommend kids practice fielding skills as the kids get older? What should they be doing outside of team practice? Are there best practices?


    Context: When my son was younger, we had a great time playing wall ball or the equivalent with the pitch back. That helped build quickness and good "shortstop" style form with forehands and backhands, not to mention, it was just fun. Now, it seems, that my son will play more centerfield and 3rd base moving forward, and these positions have their own specific body movements. He has having a great time learning these techniques, but they seem more specific, so more difficult to simulate at home.





  • #2
    As a preteen my son played mostly catcher and short when not pitching. We went to the park and I hit him grounder after grounder until he knew every hop on the field. I threw balls past him at the plate so he could learn every bounce off the backstop.

    In middle school he played short and pitched. On travel he played wherever the pitcher came from so other players mostly had one or two positions. We spent hours with me hitting him grounders and line drives.

    In outfield play anyone should be able to track a lazy fly. The key is learning to track long flies and line drives off the bat and run to the right spot. I used to go out to the field with my son and one of his high school/travel teammates. I hit them gappers and balls straight at them and over their heads until they dropped.

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    • #3
      Infield
      When hitting grounders to infielders don't murder the ball unless you are hitting to a hole and they are working on getting to it. I like for them to get ground balls that they have to charge (I am not against them fielding hard hit ground balls in practice, I just have them do that during batting practice live). This is a free video from coaches insider: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ApQ8kFcceQQ It is an excellent reference on working on fielding ground balls and I have worked it in to the Hops and Hands time of my practices with the infielders. First basemen do a little something different, but it is relevant to them too.
      Outfielders:
      I have other things that I have the outfielders do daily, which works on footwork from their prep steps- to the fielding of the ball and through the throw to cut-off or base. They do these items during the hops and hands time. To tell you the truth though the best drill work for outfielders is to shag during batting practice. My outfielders actually love it to the point they will shag for other teams and people that are taking batting practice. They pride themselves on not letting any ball touch the ground that can be caught. I hesitate to give you a link on outfield as most outfield stuff on youtube is a little dated. Needless to say, there are differing views on first steps, just like on hitting, find out what works best for your player and let him work on it. Always have a stopwatch when you are practicing and he can learn a lot about himself and the way he moves best.

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      • #4
        baseballmom-
        They're never to old for wallball.
        Most parents (unlike Jett) can't hit enough qualilty grounders to provide the 100's or 1000's of reps.
        WRT playing third specifically, often at third you can't choose your hop.
        You have to play the hop you're given.
        In other words, wallball.
        Skip

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        • #5
          Honestly, we did very little as my kids got older outside of someone hitting and the other trying to field. Fielding balls gets boring and tiring IMO. Wall ball is really fun though. I like the use of the hands a lot -need soft hands. Returners can be fun as well -we used to have contests at our house. Pepper is lots of fun if you have a few people.

          We still do a very simple IF drill working on picks and short hops. Players face each other a few feet apart in a fielder's position, glove on the ground. Gloves are probably only a foot or so apart so that the players close. Player lightly bounces the ball to the other just in front of the glove for them to pick the ball on the short hop and repeat back to the first player. We'd work this from the front and each side 10-15 reps each. It's a nice warmup and a good way to really work on technique. Mom/Dad can really improve their ability to field short hops as well if they do this

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          • #6
            After a gazillion grounders we did “hot dog” time. It was stuff like glove flips behind the back and between the legs to second. It was just for fun. But in high school my son went so far to his left on a grounder he figured his only shot was a backhanded glove flip. He figured if he screwed up runners wouldn’t advance. His flip was right on target. The place went nuts.

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            • #7
              For fielding work, I hit off a tee, cuz I fungo suck!. Living in NYC with the crappy fields and crazy hops, will sharpen any kid to look like Omar Vizquel.

              For out field, I used the flyball 500 cuz I fungo suck!

              For pitching, the kid gets the pop up net with targets so the kid can learn to paint as dad is done as bullpen catcher

              Do the opposite for practicing F1 throwndowns.
              Last edited by sparkny2; 10-25-2019, 06:43 PM.

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              • #8
                Thank you for all the suggestions! I really appreciate it! We've had fun practicing together over the years, so I am glad to have ideas on how it can continue to be fun and beneficial. At least until he hits adolescence and wants to spend less time with Mom.

                I think the flyball 500 might be useful - is it really a chuck-it that I use to play fetch with my dogs? Just adapted for a baseball?

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                • #9
                  Anyone can catch a fly. It’s boring to shag flies. You have to challenge him. Hit balls up the gap to each side. Hit balls hard in front of him directly at him. Hit balls straight over his head. Good outfielders learn by reps how to react quickly and get a jump on the ball and run to the correct spot. The most challenging play is the line drive directly at an outfielder. They have to quickly decide if it’s at them, charge it or it’s over their head.

                  My son worked relentlessly on this stuff. One time in high school his coach approached me after a game. He commented my son made what would have been extra bases in most cases look like a routine run and catch due to the jump he got. He arrived before the ball at the 375 sign in right center. 6.5 speed helps.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by baseabllmom View Post
                    Thank you for all the suggestions! I really appreciate it! We've had fun practicing together over the years, so I am glad to have ideas on how it can continue to be fun and beneficial. At least until he hits adolescence and wants to spend less time with Mom.

                    I think the flyball 500 might be useful - is it really a chuck-it that I use to play fetch with my dogs? Just adapted for a baseball?
                    Yes it requires more back muscles than the tennis ball doggy ones. With a little practice you will be slinging line drives, fly balls and mile high pop ups that drop short. All good stuff to reinforce getting good jumps on the ball. I used a pop up net for the throws to home from the outfield

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                    • #11
                      Thanks Sparkny2! The pop up tent is a great idea! Wouldn't have thought of that..

                      I agree Jet - I have been throwing him very catchable / or completely uncatchable balls to the outfield. But, in his lessons he is learning to make plays on harder balls, and that also needs to be practiced. I am still working on my fungo, so I will try out the flyball 500 and see if I can get better.

                      Shaggy balls for batting practice, especially if it is made into a mini competition, does look pretty fun. So far that hasn't been part of his team practice, but hopefully will be in the future!

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                      • #12
                        I forgot to mention an outfield skill that Jett touches on when he talked about running to the correct spot. A high level outfield skill is the ability to turn away from the ball, lose sight of it while running and find it again to make the catch. This is a high level skill and one that the kids really love working on. We work on that a couple of different ways: 1: facing away from the fungo man and looking only after it is hit (this is a drill where we always hit it over his head many times after he is running). 2. This may be the easiest and simplest, when he is shagging in batting practice and the ball is hit to another player in the outfield, he should follow it for a half second then close his eyes and look to where he thinks it will land. Then open his eyes to see if he was right. This was my way for the outfielders to get reps when they weren't up, or it was hit away from them.

                        To do the 2nd one, the pitcher for batting practice has to pause and not throw another pitch until the ball has landed, because we are usually hitting grounders to infielders between pitches and we also have runners getting situational reps on the base paths, I don't have to worry about it, but I don't want you to suggest it to your son only to have him get hit upside the head by a coach that chucks a ball in every other second.

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                        • #13
                          Thanks Bman! I think I understand what you are talking about. That's a great drill to practice. And thanks for the safety tip.

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                          • #14
                            Not totally related but here is a great video of ron washington working with ozzie albies

                            https://youtu.be/vDlnzZs4DUU
                            I now have my own non commercial blog about training for batspeed and power using my training experience in baseball and track and field.

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