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 > Little League Online > Learn More > Newsletters > Coach's Box Newsletter > 2008 > Coach's Box - January > Fielding Ground Balls

Fielding Ground Balls


Volume 3, No. 1


January 2008


Fielding Ground Ball Progression for Players 5-8 Years
 By al and AL

First, please recognize you are working with young players just starting out, with wide variety of different attitudes, motivation, experience and skill level.
Second, you must build safety and organization into every part of your practice.
Third, remember players improve the most when they are active trying out what you want them to learn.
Fourth, be patient with each player and be positive with them every chance you get.
Fifth, find a creative way to break down the skill so each player on your team finds success.
Finally, and most importantly, they need to have fun. Your job is to help each and every player on your team develop a passion for the game

We suggest that you apply this little checklist to introducing the skill of “Fielding a Ground Ball.”

Ground Ball – “Ready Position”
Have the players stand side by side on the edge of the infield grass arms distance apart and introduce the basic infield stance. Legs wide, bum sticking out, hands out front and low, head up, eyes on the ball. We call this ready position “alligator” because we want players to take a low stance with two hands out front in an alligator type position.

Ground Ball Practice – Fun Repetitions
Organize your team into four lines of three players. Mark a spot on the infield dirt at each of the four infield positions. Have a coach or parent helper stand five-six steps out in front of each line. Have the first player in each line to get ready to field the ground ball by calling out “Ready” or “Alligator.”

Initially have the players take off their gloves and set them aside. Then softly roll an oversized ball to the player at the front of each line. Each player fields the ball with two hands, tosses it back to the coach and then circles around to the back of their line. This is a great way to safely introduce fielding with two hands. Keep them going for minutes so each player gets several chances to be successful.

Then, have the players put on their gloves and repeat the drill using a regular sized baseball. If you have soft baseballs in your equipment bag, start with them. Then introduce the ball that you will use in games. Make sure the four coaches are only a short distance away and are rolling the ball underhand softly. The goal at this point in the progression is to get as many repetitions as possible reinforcing the basic technique and help players develop confidence.

As the players gain more confidence during the year, organize the drill with the coaches at each station back at a position closer to game distance.

As a coach, your goal should be to provide each player with 40-50 ground ball chances in the 10-15 minutes that you have set aside in each practice. Using this approach it is easy to accomplish this objective & over 10 practices you have provided each player 400-500 repetitions on this very important and challenging skill.

Of course you will need to mix in hitting some ground balls during your practice but we recommend you give all players 40-50 repetitions using the above approach first.

This progression was developed by Al Herback and Al Price; Authors and Instructors of the Little League Education Program for Managers & Coaches. Fielding ground balls along with other skills, drills, fun activities along with tips on how to plan a practice can be found in the “Getting Started” Training Series. This series includes a manual for coaches, instructional booklets for players & a new Getting Started DVD. Please go to www.alandalbaseball.com for more information on the program & to order your own set of Training Materials.

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