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 > Little League Online > Learn More > Newsletters > Coach's Box Newsletter > 2006 > Coach's Box - April 2006 > King of the Diamond

King of the Diamond

 

Volume I, No. 4

   April 2006

 
   
      
  

"King of the Diamond" – A Ground Ball Competition Your Players Will Love!
by Al Herback and Al Price

Al and I find that Little League coaches everywhere are looking for fun drills and competitions they can use to help motivate their players to improve. We know from experience, that there are way better ways to develop fielding skills than lining up players at shortstop and hitting ground balls at them.

The “King of the Diamond” competition is designed for players 8-14 years old but could be easily modified to help players of any age. You can either have all the players on your team compete at the same time or better yet, split your team into two groups of 6-7 players. One group competes in “King of the Diamond” and the other half of your team competes in the outfield “Fly Ball Shuttle Competition” at the same time. (“Fly Ball Shuttle Competition” – can be found in our Planning a Practice DVD and Basic Instructional Manual) After 10-15 minutes have the two groups switch stations. Remember, when you are working with players at this age, they all need to develop both of these key defensive skills.

Setting up for “King of the Diamond”
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 bag behind him, ready to receive throws from each of the fielders. (We suggest you have the coach at first just catch the calls and drop them in the bucket behind first base…then when the coach at home plate is out of balls…just run the balls in from first and switch buckets. This approach saves a lot of time and keeps the drill moving.) The players line up, one behind the other, at the regular second base fielding position. The player at the front of the line moves onto the infield dirt and gets ready to take his turn fielding a ground ball. (It is a good idea to draw a “V” in the dirt where you want the infielder to stand when it is his turn to make a play.)

OK, now you are ready for ROUND #1
Roll a "routine” ground ball to each player lined up at second base fielding position. If the player fields the ball cleanly and makes an accurate throw to the first baseman – he gets to move to the line at the shortstop position. If a player fumbles the ground ball or makes a bad throw to first – he does not advance to shortstop but instead moves to the back of the line at second base position. Coaches, ROUND #1 ends when you have given each player a chance to field one ground ball.

Lets go for ROUND #2
At the start of ROUND #2 you will probably have players still lined up at second base and some over in the at the shortstop line. Start ROUND #2 by rolling a routine ground ball to each of the players still in the second base fielding line. Again, if the players make a good play they move up 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. If a player in the shortstop line makes a nice play and an accurate throw to first base he gets to move over and line up at the third base fielding position. If a player in the shortstop line fumbles the ground ball or makes a bad throw to first base he needs to move back down to the line at the second base fielding position. Round #2 ends when each player in the group has had the chance to field his second ground ball of the competition.

Round #3, now it starts to get interesting.
At this point in the competition you will probably have some players lined up at second base, shortstop and third base fielding positions. Start ROUND #3 by rolling a routine ground ball to each of the players in the second base line. Again, if they make a good play they move up to shortstop, if they make an error they stay at second base. Then roll a medium paced…a little more challenging ground ball… to each player in the shortstop line. Remember if a player in the shortstop line makes a nice play and an accurate throw to first base he gets to move up to the third base line and if he makes a fielding or throwing error he moves back to second. Finally, turn and face the players in the “KING OF THE DIAMOND” line at third base and throw a more challenging ground ball to each of them. (Coaches, we want this play to be tougher so roll or hit a faster ground ball and make them work to their backhand or forehand side.) Now, if a player at third base position makes a good fielding play and an accurate throw across the diamond to first base he gets to stay in the “KING OF THE DIAMOND” line. And as you would guess, if a player in the third baseline makes an error fielding or throwing he moves down to the shortstop line. Round #3 ends when each player has had the chance to field his third ground ball, so if you have six players in the group, the round would include six ground balls, one to each player.

Continue with 10-15 more rounds so each player gets lots of chances to move up. The “King of the Diamond” champion is the player that makes the most successful plays at third base.

The best part is that everyone from the little al’s to the BIG AL’s are challenged at their own skill level and experience success. Your weaker players will often make the play at second base and get lots of chances to move up and try plays at the shortstop position. Your stronger players are pushed to get better when they are over at shortstop and third base trying to make more difficult plays. In our local league we used this drill as the fielding ground ball station at pre-season and all-star tryouts and it worked great. We like to throw the ground balls because there is more control but hitting ground balls can work too.

Any time you want to add a little more focus and energy to the competition, just offer to buy the “King of the Diamond Champions” an ice cream cone or other treat. Once you show “King of the Diamond” to your players they are going to ask for it all season long – perfect!


Al Herback and Al Price, Authors and Instructors of the Little League Education Program created the “Bubba Throwing” approach to teaching young players how to throw. The training materials they have put together include hundreds of other drills, competitions and fun activities. They also include progressions to help you teach the fundamental skills and guidance on how to plan practices for all levels of play. Please go to www.alandalbaseball.com for more information on the complete program library and to order your own set of training materials. To date, thousands of leagues and over one million coaches, managers, players and parents have taken advantage of the training materials.

 
 
 
 
 
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