A Ground Ball Competition Your Players Will Love!
Fun drills and competitions can be a Little League coach’s best friend in helping motivate players and building their skills.
The “King of the Diamond” or “Queen of the Diamond” competition is designed for players 8 to 14 years old, but could easily be modified to help players of any age. You can either have all the players on your team compete at the same time, but it’s best to split your team into two groups of 6 to 7 players. After 10 to 15 minutes, have the two groups switch stations.
Have one coach move to home plate with a bucket of balls and get ready to throw (or hit) ground balls. The second coach is positioned at first base, with an empty ball bucket behind him, ready to receive throws from each of the fielders. Have the coach at first just catch the balls and drop them in the bucket behind the base. When the coach at home plate is out of balls, run the balls in from first and switch buckets. Draw a “V” in the dirt where you want the infielder to stand at regular second base, shortstop and third base positions. Have the players line up at the second base ”V,” with the player at the front of the line in the infield dirt and ready to field a ground ball.
Roll a "routine” ground ball to each player lined up at the second base fielding position. The players who field the ball cleanly, and make accurate throws to first base, move to the line at the shortstop position. The players who fumble the ground ball, or make a bad throw to first, move to the back of the line at second base. Round 1 ends when each player has had a chance to field one ground ball.
At the start of Round 2, you will probably have players lined up at both second base and shortstop. Start Round 2 by rolling a routine ground ball to each of the players in the second-base fielding line. Again, if the players make a good play they move over to shortstop, and if they make an error they stay at second base.
Now, turn to the players lined up at shortstop. Complete Round 2 by rolling a little more challenging ground ball to each player in the shortstop line. Good, clean plays with accurate throws allow the player to advance to third base. If they make an error, they move all the way back to the line at the second base. Round 2 ends when each player in the group has had the chance to field his or her second ground ball of the competition.
By now, you’ll likely have players at all three positions. Progress through the drill like Round 2. Starting at second base, with players making clean plays advancing to shortstop, and players making errors going to the back of the line and then continuing to the line at shortstop. Remember, players at shortstop who make clean plays advance to the third base line, but if they make a fielding or throwing error, they move back to second.
Finally, turn and face the players in the line at third base and throw a more challenging ground ball to each of them. (This play should be tougher, so roll or hit a faster ground ball and make your players work on their backhand or forehand sides.) Players at the third base who make a good fielding play and an accurate throw across the diamond to first base get to stay in the “KING OR QUEEN OF THE DIAMOND” line. Players who make an error fielding or throwing move down to the shortstop line. Round 3 ends when each player has had the chance to field his third ground ball.
Continue with 10 to 15 more rounds so each player gets lots of chances to move up. The champion is the player that makes the most successful plays at third base. As you continue to work this drill into your practices, that group of “Kings” and “Queens” will grow.
Article submitted by Big Al Baseball. Big Al has presented live clinics to over 300,000 coaches and over 1.3 million coaches, managers, players and their parents have used the curriculum and training programs he has created. To learn more about Big Al and his Training and Development Programs for coaches and parents please to www.bigalbaseball.com.