Creating a Pre-game Infield & Outfield Routine for Softball
Before the first pitch is thrown, every player on the field — whether in the infield or outfield — needs to prepared. Arms need to be loose. Confidence needs to be high. Every girl needs to be ready to go all out for the each hit. This softball guide outlines an efficient pre-game infield and outfield routine that will get your team amped up before the coin toss.
Note: This softball guide focuses on a defensive pre-game warm-up. For more information and ideas about an offensive warm-up or a full warm-up routine, check out iSport’s guides, A pre-game Hitting Routine for Softball and How to Warm-up a Softball Team.
Throwing leads to the most errors in softball, so every player’s arm needs to be warmed up before game time. During the throwing warm-ups, infielders and outfielders should pair up with each other. The first few throwing drills should be done by everyone:
- One-knee wrist snaps
- One-knee front snaps
- One-knee throws
- Figure-eight throws
After the figure-eight throws are completed, the infielders can move onto quick toss and the outfielders can move onto long toss. During long toss (where each pair should be at least 100 feet away from each other), the outfielders should focus on loosening up their arms by throwing with a high arc. Then, after their arms are fully warm, they can move on to crow hopping and making low, on-target throws. After the team is done warming up their throws, they can split entirely and work on their defense.
The infield needs to focus on grounders. The easiest way to have an efficient infield warm-up is to split the infield into two groups. The first group should include all players who play up in the infield: First basemen, third basemen, and pitchers. The second group should include all of the players who play deeper in the infield: Shortstops and second basemen. The catcher can stay back with the coach (who will be hitting the grounders) to catch the incoming throws.
Make sure every type of grounder is practiced during the pre-game routine:
Every player should focus on fielding each ball cleanly and then making an accurate throw to the catcher.
Hot Tip: Get the Cheers Going!
On the last round of ground balls to the infield and fly balls to the outfield, every player should be cheering for her teammates. Once each group is done, they should do a quick pep talk amongst each other (the infield and outfield can do this separately) for some last-minute advice to get pumped up for the first pitch.
Outfielders also need to focus on the types of hits they’ll see during the game: Line drives, fly balls, and grounders. But first, they should practice their drop step with a simple drill:
- All outfielders should line up on the third or first base foul line.
- The first player in line will step up and turn to face the coach, who will be standing on the foul line and holding a ball.
- The coach will point her hand in one of three directions: Straight up, to the left, or to the right. Wherever she points the ball is the direction in which the outfielder will drop step.
- After the drop step, the outfielder will turn and sprint toward center field. Her coach will yell “Ball!” to indicate when the outfielder can turn to locate the ball and catch it.
- After making the catch, the outfielder will hold onto the ball and run to the end of the line.
- Each outfielder will go at least three times.
After the drop step drill, move the outfielders to center field. The coach can choose to have one outfielder (or a back-up catcher) stay behind to catch incoming throws, or to catch the balls herself and have a cutoff (or both). The coach will then hit grounders and fly balls to the outfielders. Each outfielder needs to focus on a few things:
- Her drop step
- Reading the ball
- Reading the wind
- Blocking the sun (if that’s an issue)
- Calling the ball
- Making accurate throws to the catcher
The final hit to each outfielder should be a do-or-die grounder or line drive. The outfielder will catch the ball and throw it back in as if she were trying to throw a runner out at home. After releasing the ball, she’ll sprint in. The coach will toss her a short fly ball, which the player will have to dive for.
Hey Batter, Batter!
Some teams like to have a full infield and outfield warm-up with all position players on the field. This type of warm-up, however, may give some types of players more practice than others. Learning how to properly structure the pre-game defensive routine will allow every player to have enough time and practice to prepare for the first pitch.