Drills For Outfielders
For some reason, especially at the lower levels of softball, the outfielders are criminally underrated -- but why? Most often, these are the athletes that are cerebral enough to read long fly balls on the run, can effectively analyze the best angle and route, and hit long throws on a dime consistently. So, whether you realize it or not, playing the outfield in softball is severely important as it can be the backbone of any team’s defense.
In order to become a better outfielder, you’ll need to practice your speed, reaction times, and communication efforts daily. Once you add in variables like wind, sun, and situation, there isn’t a single pop-out exactly the same as the last. CoachUp has put together a quick list of drills that you can work on with a coach or friend to improve your outfield play.
This drill requires at least three people -- one player should be hitting the ball from home plate, with another in center field and the third in an adjacent position, in right or left field. The hitter’s only job is to hit the ball somewhere in the middle of them. This forces the two outfielders to organize themselves and call for the ball. Practicing this drill will work on communication in the outfield -- but don’t forget to vary your type of hits! Make sure to send the pair grounders, liners, pop-outs, and even some that go over their heads, so they can also practice some simple cut-off situations!
Next, try working on your overall speed and reactions to a well-hit ball. Place a bucket between right and center field and another between center and left. Line up behind the foul line of your choice, while your partner or coach stands at home plate. If you start lined up in right field, the person at home should hit a fly ball between right and center.
Immediately after the ball is hit, sprint across the field to catch it. After you catch it, drop it in the bucket. Right after the ball is placed in the bucket, the coach should quickly hit another between center and left forcing you to run into the next zone to catch the ball. Once you reach the other side of the field, turn around and go back. This fast-paced softball drill will work on conditioning and hand eye coordination in addition to your crucially important reaction time.
Finally, stand side-by-side with a partner. One player will sprint in a straight line from the pre-decided starting point as their partner will throw a ball high above them and, after a few seconds, will instruct the runner to quickly turn and find the ball. Although most drills specifically attempt to target this, these reactionary sprints will particularly do a great job of keeping the outfielder on their toes and ready for any situation that could arise.
(Related: Read about improving your bat skills and strength here.)
These three drills are perfect for keeping the outfielders prepared and in shape -- which is crucial, because, believe it or not, most games will hinge on the outfield’s consistent contributions, steady hands, and some acrobatic catches. Grabbing a partner to play is great, but consider booking one of CoachUp’s private trainers as well! It’ll be beneficial to work with a coach that knows the ins and outs of the game -- what are you waiting for?