One of the challenges of coaching an outdoor sport is having to battle the elements. Having a plan with some indoor fastpitch softball & baseball infield drills is a necessity if you coach “up north.”
So what do you do when you have the limited space of an indoor facility? As a starting point you need to assess the indoor space and the equipment that you have.
This will help you to visualize and begin thinking through your practice organization. The larger the indoor facility you have, the more of a variety of practice drills you can do.
It’s truly all about how you organize.
For example, the bunting lanes drill that we discuss in another post can easily be done anywhere. Indoor, outdoors, or in your backyard.
But some drills are better than others for indoor practices where space is limited. And below we are going to give you lots of ideas for infield softball drills that you can use both in your gym or on your regular field.
Let’s dive in…
(Note: We originally made this post for softball, but then realized all of the drills cross-over to baseball as well. Keep that in mind when looking at the photos & videos below).
Indoor/Outdoor Infield Drill #1: Side to Side Drill
This is a drill for working on lateral movement with your fielders. This is a great drill for conditioning, working on lateral quickness, and basic grounder fundamentals.
Here is a very simple breakdown:
- A partner or a coach rolls a ball to the side of the fielder.
- The fielder shuffles (without crossing her feet) to the side and fields the ball in between their feet in proper fielding position.
- Once the fielder has the ball they toss it back to the tosser. The fielder should stay low throughout the drill.
- Once they toss the ball back they begins to shuffle back the other direction until his/her partner rolls another grounder.
- Drill is repeated over and over until a coach blows the whistle or calls out “switch.”
- Now the partner becomes the defensive player and vice versa.
The picture below will give an idea of the progression of this drill.
As you can see, it is not difficult and does not take much space to execute.
Indoor/Outdoor Infield Drill #2: Throwing on the Run Progressions
This is a great activity for an indoor practice with limited space.
One thing to note is that some of this a more advanced skill. Younger, or inexperienced players, will need more time to work on this. We use these drills for multiple purposes:
- Making Throws on the Run
- Run-Down Fundamentals
- Quicker catch to throw transitions
- Developing coordination and "ball handling" skills
Here is a video from Coach Ritchhart explaining this infield drill progression with his fastpitch softball team. As you can see, it does not take much space and is perfect for an indoor practice:
Drill #3: Split-Infield
This is a drill that would typically be done on an entire infield, but it CAN be done inside if you have the infielders using a gym or they have the indoor facility to themselves. We did this almost daily in January/February when I coached in the midwest.
BUT we did have enough space to make it work. If you are in a regulation gym you may need to modify things a bit.
An easy way to modify is to simply shorten the bases. In this scenario, your fielders are still getting multiple grounder reps, but will just be making shorter throws.
Here is the breakdown of this fastpitch softball & baseball infield drill (with a video example below):
- All of the infielders are at their spots.
- Two Coaches are hitting grounders at the same time (this CAN be done with one coach if necessary).
- One coach is hitting to a fielder on the left side of the infield, and the other is hitting to a fielder on the right side.
- For a designated amount of time or reps, the same position receives all of the grounders. The position that is receiving the grounders throws to the same position the entire round.
- Here are some examples:
- 1st Round: SS to 1st base/ 2nd to 3rd base
- 2nd Round: 3rd to 1st base/2nd to SS (throwing to 2nd base)
- 3rd Round: Pitcher to 1st base/ SS to 2nd base
- 4th Round: 1st to 1st base (2nd base covers throw)/3rd to 2nd (have the SS take throws)
- Keep going…you could even incorporate some throws home with a catcher if you want!
Watch the video below to see an example of a few reps of this drill.
One thing to note from the example: To make this easier on yourself and to keep the drill moving faster, you can do a couple of things:
- If using buckets, stack the full one on top of the empty bucket. This will save you from bending over (like you see us doing in this video).
- If you have a ball bin, use that instead. I personally love the foldable ball bins for easy use.
- If you have a spare manager or player, have them hand you the ball each time.
"Indoor" Drill #4: Fielding 3-Ways Infield Drill
In this video, Coach Ritchhart shows a high-energy infield drill to practice game-type situations with your infielders.
The "3-Ways" grounders consist of the following types of scenarios:
- Cleanly fielded grounder
- Dropped grounder
- Bobbled ball
Like the "Split-Infield" drill above, if your space is too tight, then you can do one of two things:
- Shorten the bases, making shorter throws to each base.
- Put all the fielding players in one line, and the receiving players in another line. In other words, all of the throws are coming from one spot on the "field."
Either way, the two modifications above will allow your players to get multiple reps on all 3 grounder "types" in this drill!
Drill #5: High-Toss Short-Hops Drill
As infielders advance in their skill-level, learning how to properly field a short-hop is a necessity. And having practice drills to work on them will be a huge help.
The great thing about this drill is that it take VERY little space. And with a bouncy ball on an indoor surface, your players will be "exposed" when they don't do this softball drill correctly.
As mentioned in the video, this is a fastpitch softball & baseball infield drill for more advanced players.
While you don't need to shy away from trying it with younger or less experienced players you will need to be careful to not cause frustration for them. As you begin this drill, you may observe that even some of your more highly skilled players will struggle initially.
However, with some patience, persistence, and practice, this will become a great way for your players to work on picking the short-hop.
A few key points about performing this skill & drill well:
- Make sure you know how to teach fielding short-hops well before trying this drill. If players don't know how to execute the skill it will only lead to frustration.
- The "short-version" of this is that they need to try and field the ball just after it hits the ground like you see the player doing here. And then they should "push-through" the ball rather than "give" with it.
- As mentioned in the video, this drill can work well for regular grounders, forehands, and backhands.
- As you could see from the drill done by Tony Medina, this drill also works great in combination with teaching making throws on the run.
Indoor/Outdoor Infield Drill #6: Catch & Throw Quick-Release Progressions
In the video below, you will see a progression of drills to work on developing a quicker catch to throw transition.
This is critical for infielders, especially as they progress to higher levels of play.
Once again, while this video was filmed outside, you an see that it takes very little space and would be an easy thing to work on indoors!
This is a great activity for indoors because each player simply needs a ball and a little bit of space. And a partner for the second part of the progression.
Indoor Infield Drill #7: “Gator” Run-Down Drill
This is a baseball or fastpitch softball drill to work on your infield run-down defense. As long as you have enough space for infield bases you can easily do this indoors. Here are the key points of execution:
- Start with your defense all in their positions and a runner at home.
- Have a coach standing in the middle of the field.
- Once the coach says to go, the runner begins going full speed around the bases. If you only have a couple of runners ask them to go 75% speed until the run-down so that you can get more reps.
- When the runner begins, the defense moves to cover their base.
- At any point while the runner is betweeen 2 bases, the coach throws the ball to a defensive player and the run-down is on!
As mentioned, all of these drills can be done indoors OR outdoors. And every drill works for BOTH baseball & softball!
The key is how you organize the space that you have (which is different for everyone). But with some organization and planning you can run a great practice inside!