Youth Infield Drills: Boosting Skills and Fun on the Field

Teaching baseball fundamentals to young infielders is critical to their growth and success in the sport. One key to helping youth players improve their skills is using a variety of engaging and effective infield drills.

By focusing on drills that are age-appropriate and skill-appropriate, coaches can ensure that their players are learning the correct mechanics while having fun.

Youth players practice infield drills, fielding ground balls and making accurate throws to imaginary bases

You can start with basic drills like rolling ground balls to each other to emphasize the importance of soft hands and proper stance.

This simple yet effective practice helps build the foundation of strong fielding mechanics in youth baseball players.

More advanced drills, like the Barry Larkin Pancake Glove Drill, can be introduced as players’ skills develop, allowing them to refine their technique and reaction times.

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Whether you’re a parent, a coach, or a young player, these drills are sure to make a positive impact on your baseball journey.

Getting Started with Basics

A group of young baseball players practicing fielding drills on a sunny, green infield, with coaches providing guidance and encouragement

When beginning infield drills for youth baseball players, it’s important to focus on the fundamentals of throwing and catching, mastering footwork techniques, and building hand-eye coordination.

These basics are the foundation of strong infield play.

Fundamentals of Throwing and Catching

Throwing and catching are the building blocks of baseball.

Proper technique starts with grip; the ball should be held across the seams with a firm but relaxed grip.

Players should rotate their shoulders to build momentum for their throw while stepping forward with their opposite foot.

Accuracy is key, so encourage players to aim for a consistent target like the player’s chest.

Catching requires soft hands and focus.

Players should keep their eyes on the ball, extend their arms, and use the glove as an extension of their hand.

Drills such as pairing up and rolling grounders can help practice these skills.

Footwork Techniques for Infielders

Effective footwork is crucial for infielders.

It helps them get into position quickly and make accurate throws.

The ready stance is the best starting point—feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and weight on the balls of their feet.

Teaching players to move side-to-side efficiently is essential.

A simple drill is the triangle drill where players move forward, side-to-side, and backward, always returning to the ready stance.

Proper footwork helps in approaching ground balls too.

Encourage players to “charge” the ball by moving forward aggressively and fielding the ball in front of their body.

This approach increases reaction time and throwing accuracy.

Building Hand-Eye Coordination

Hand-eye coordination is essential for making clean catches and quick throws.

Practice drills that emphasize soft hands and focus.

One effective drill is using a pancake glove, which forces players to use proper technique while fielding grounders.

Another helpful exercise is the ball toss.

Have players toss a ball back and forth, varying the speed and distance to keep them engaged and responsive.

Consistent practice with these drills enhances a player’s ability to react quickly and accurately.

Building strong hand-eye coordination sets the foundation for more advanced skills.

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Advanced Infield Skills

Youth infielders fielding ground balls, making quick transfers, and throwing accurately to bases

Learning advanced infield skills can take a youth baseball player’s fielding game to the next level.

Key areas include mastering the backhand play and developing soft hands for fielding.

Mastering the Backhand Play

Backhand plays are crucial for dealing with ground balls hit to a player’s non-glove side.

Step-by-Step Process:

  1. Approach the Ball: Step towards the ball with the glove-side foot.
  2. Position the Glove: Get low and angle the glove backhanded.
  3. Secure the Ball: Use the wrist to flex and secure the ball.
  4. Quick Transition: Bring the glove into the throwing position quickly.

Drills to Practice:

  1. Backhand Drill: Coaches hit grounders to the player’s backhand side.
  2. Reaction Time Drill: Use a reaction ball to improve speed and accuracy.

Developing Soft Hands for Fielding

Soft hands help a player field balls cleanly without bobbling.

This reduces errors and improves overall defense.

Key Techniques:

  1. Glove Positioning: Keep the glove low and open.
  2. Receiving the Ball: Let the ball come to the glove and cushion it gently.
  3. Proper Footwork: Use proper foot positioning to absorb the ball smoothly.

Fielding Drills:

  1. Bare Hand Drill: Players field with bare hands to feel the ball better.
  2. Pancake Glove Drill: This specialized glove promotes soft hands by limiting the glove’s padding.

For young players aiming to master these skills, drills and consistent practice are essential.

These drills emphasize fielding technique, improving defensive skills, and enhancing reaction time.

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Dynamic Drills and Exercises

Youth infield drills in action, players running, throwing, and catching with intensity and focus

Dynamic drills can significantly boost agility, speed, and fielding skills for youth baseball players.

These workouts should focus on building strength, quick reflexes, and proper techniques for handling ground balls and other infield challenges.

Agility and Speed Drills

Agility and speed are key for any infielder.

One effective drill is the Four Corners Drill.

Set up four bases or cones in a square.

Players sprint between each base, practicing sharp turns and quick accelerations.

Another useful exercise is the Ladder Drill.

Using an agility ladder, players step in and out of the squares quickly, improving foot speed and coordination.

These drills help players react faster and move efficiently in all directions on the field.

Conditioning Workouts for Infielders

Conditioning is crucial for maintaining high performance throughout the game. Sprints and interval training can build stamina and endurance.

For example, players can run 60-yard sprints, rest for 30 seconds, and repeat.

This mimics the bursts of speed needed during a game.

Another excellent workout is the Bodyweight Circuit.

Include exercises like push-ups, squats, and planks to build necessary muscle strength without requiring equipment.

These activities ensure players are physically prepared for the demands of infield play.

Practical Fielding Drills with Fungo and Ground Balls

Fielding ground balls effectively is a must for any infielder.

Using a fungo bat, coaches can hit routine ground balls to different positions, allowing players to practice their techniques.

For younger players, the Circle Drill is helpful.

Draw a circle on the field, and have players field ground balls within this boundary.

This encourages approaching the ball rather than waiting for it.

Another practical drill is pairing up players to roll grounders to each other, focusing on soft hands and proper stance.

By incorporating these exercises, youth players can sharpen their skills and build the physical attributes needed for successful infield play.

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Practice and Development

Youth players practicing infield drills on a sunny baseball field.</p><p>Glove, ball, and cones scattered around.</p><p>Coaches supervising the session

Effective practice sessions and strong coaching techniques are essential for youth infield drills.

The focus should be on organization, player engagement, and tailored feedback to ensure steady progress in developing skills.

Organizing Productive Practice Sessions

Productive practice sessions are the backbone of player development.

Start with a warm-up to get players loose and prepared.

Next, break the session into focused drills that target specific skills, such as fielding ground balls, turning double plays, or proper throwing mechanics.

Keeping drills varied ensures that players remain engaged.

Small group drills, like the Barry Larkin Pancake Glove Drill, can help players mimic game situations.

Using tools like pancake gloves can improve hand-eye coordination and quick reflexes.

End each session with a cool-down period and a brief recap of the day’s activities to reinforce learning.

Coaching Tips for Youth Player Development

Coaching is crucial in helping young players develop.

Coaches should emphasize the fundamentals, like maintaining a good stance and keeping eyes on the ball.

Using simple drills, such as pairing players to roll grounders to each other, helps reinforce these basic skills.

Positive reinforcement is key.

Celebrate small wins and provide constructive feedback to help players improve.

Incorporating fun elements, like competitive mini-games, keeps the practice enjoyable.

Additionally, incorporating aspects of baseball conditioning, like agility drills, can improve overall athletic performance.

Coaches should also encourage players to practice outside of team sessions.

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