Softball Drills for the Outfield
Outfield is a somewhat overlooked position that often receives the least amount of instruction because coaches’ attention is generally focused on the infield. This guide helps to solve this predicament, offering tips and numerous useful drills to give outfielders plenty of opportunities to improve their game!
There is one thing every outfielder must to able to do: Throw accurately. It’s more important for an outfielder to throw accurately than to throw hard, and this drill focuses on just that. Divide the outfielders into the three outfield positions and place three trash cans or a large net at the plate. Lay the trash cans on their sides, so that the opening of each faces each outfielder.
The coach will hit a ball to each outfielder. Each outfielder will drop step, catch the ball, crow hop, and make the throw to the plate. Every throw that makes it into the bucket/net is a point. The outfielder with the most points wins.
Going across the Green
Every outfielder needs substantial range, so this drill will get the outfielders moving across the grass. Infielders need to cover each base while the outfielders line up on the right field foul line.
- The first outfielder will step into right field and get in her ready stance. The coach will hit a ball that leads her across the grass towards right-center field.
- The outfielder will catch the ball and make her first throw to first base.
- After the first throw, she’ll continue running towards centerfield. The coach will immediately hit another ball so she fields it near center field.
- The outfielder will catch the ball and make the second throw to second base.
- Immediately after her throw, the coach will hit one last ball to the outfielder, leading her to left field.
- The outfielder will make her final catch and throw the ball to third base.
- After the last throw, the next outfielder will step up to take her turn.
The point of the drill is to keep the outfielders moving, so they should never have to stop to wait for the ball.
Two Cones: Side-to-Side
This drill offers an opportunity to improve your footwork and tracking ability:
- Place two cones roughly 20 feet apart. An outfielder stands in the middle.
- A coach will start the drill by hitting a grounder or fly ball that leads the outfielder to the right or left cone.
- An outfielder will field the ball and throw it back to the catcher.
- After releasing the ball, the outfielder will continue her momentum, run all the way around the cone, and then get back to the middle.
- The next hit should lead the outfielder to the opposite cone. After fielding the ball, the outfielder will throw the ball to the catcher, sprint to the cone, round it, and get back to the middle, ready for the next hit.
This drill should be timed for 45 seconds and repeated at least three times per outfielder. It should not be easy, functioning as a form of conditioning.
Two Cones: Up and Down
This drill also involves the use of two cones.
- Place two cones roughly 20 feet apart and set them up so that the outfielder runs forward and backwards between them.
- The outfielder will start at the back cone, and the coach will hit a ball that forces her to run forward to catch it.
- The outfielder will catch the ball, throw it in, and finish running towards the front cone.
- Once the outfielder reaches the first cone, she’ll need to drop step and start running back for the next ball that will be hit over her head near the back cone.
There is no need to round the front cone in this drill; simply running to it is sufficient. This drill should be timed for 45 seconds, repeated at least three times per outfielder.
The purpose of rapid fire is to hit the outfielders a wave of balls in a short amount of time. Outfielders will set up in the three outfield positions. The coach will proceed to hit fly balls between the right fielder and the center fielder, and then between the center fielder and the left fielder.
The goal of this drill is to get the outfielders’ feet moving and stress communication in the gaps. After fielding the balls, the outfielders should roll them in or make a throw to an extra player at the plate (the drill is not for throwing, so don’t throw your arms out).
The coach needs to hit the balls very quickly. There should be at least two buckets of balls at the plate, and they should be gone within minutes. Focus on making sure nothing gets by the outfielders.
Do or Die
Outfielders need to be extremely aggressive on grounders if they want to be able to throw runners out on the base paths. This drill works on the do-or-die plays — grounders an outfielder fields on the run, trying to throw out a runner. This drill should focus on making accurate throws.
Hot Tip: Drop Step!
The drop step is the most important step for an outfielder. When practicing these drills, focus on your drop step first. If your first reaction is to step forward, you are doing it wrong!
Practice at home by yourself or have a coach toss a few balls over your shoulder. Whatever you do, you need to practice! No matter where the ball is, your first step is always back.
- The outfielders will set up in right, center, and left field. A coach will hit hard grounders to each player.
- The outfielders will charge the first round of balls and throw them to the appropriate bases: Right fielder throws to first base, center fielder throws to second base, and left fielder throws to third base.
- Field every ball on-the-go with one hand, then crow hop and make a strong throw.
- For the second round of ground balls, make every throw to home plate.
Split your team into groups of three. Spread each group from home plate to the warning track:
- The player at the plate will start the drill by crow hopping, and making a long throw to the player in the middle.
- The player in the middle will turn her feet and make the relay throw to the player at the warning track.
- The player at the warning track should come forward to catch the ball, make a crow hop, and throw the ball back to the player in the middle.
- After about five rounds, the outfielders should all switch positions.
This drill emphasizes throwing accuracy, the crow hop, and the speed of release. Focus on proper footwork and throwing accurately.
Go All Out
No player should be scared to get a little dirty in the outfield. Always remember to practice like you play. In every drill, sprint to the ball, dive, and slide if necessary. If you don’t do it in practice, you surely won’t do it in a game.
What’s more, making errors in practice is okay. A good coach will not punish you for going all out and missing the ball; making the effort goes a long way. Plus, it’s much better to make an error in practice than in a game. Just don’t give up. If a coach ever asks you whether a dive would have allowed you to catch a ball, he already knows the answer — yes!
Set high expectations for yourself and have fun. Outfield is full of action. So take your practice seriously and you’ll be ready for anything. If you want a little extra practice, use iSport's Field Directory to find a nearby field to take some fly balls. Practice makes a huge difference!