Goal: To get to 21! For a point to count, an “out” must be made. There are no base runners, so the play must be made free of errors to earn a point. To be successful, they must communicate as a team and give great effort on each play to make the drill as game-like as possible.
The drill is called 21 because you need to get 21 outs in a seven inning game. This has become a fun, but competitive drill for the players as well as the coaches. 21 allows us to mimic the pressure that the players might feel when they are attempting to make a play with the game on the line. This will allow you as a coach to find out who can make the play with when the pressure is on, especially when they get to 20. My job as a coach is to prepare them to be able to handle this situation. Once they gain the confidence to succeed in 21, it makes an actual softball game that much easier.
Set up: Begin with a full field defense (minus a pitcher). The pitchers stand in a safe place (dugout) and build up their teammates throughout the game. The extra position players will stand against the fence until they rotate in their position after the a few plays.
The coach steps into the batter’s box and hits the ball anywhere on the field. The players must play the ball live, fielding it cleanly and making accurate throws. For example, a ground ball must be fielded cleanly and thrown to first base and the ball must make it back cleanly to the catcher to be counted as a point. A fly ball to the outfield must be caught and thrown to second base (the second baseman or shortstop should go out for a relay) and thrown to the catcher. A diving catch counts as two points. A base hit does not give you a point, but you must still field it cleanly and get it in to the catcher and you remain at the same number prior to that hit. If at any time a ball is missed (due to lack of effort such as diving or miscommunication), bobbled, dropped or thrown errant, they return back to zero. If there is a bad throw, as long as the person catching the ball catches it cleanly, it will still count as a point. The pitchers or catchers should call each number out loud for the team as soon as they catch it. Mental things tend to happen. If they are at zero again, they might give up and they need to learn that they should fight back to win the game. Also, as they get close to 21, they should learn to be the one with the confidence that wants the ball and to make the play and not be worried about messing up and making the team go back to zero. Communication is crucial as most of the hits are intentionally placed between all positions. Some of the main areas will be ground balls between first and second basemen, between shortstop and third basemen, fly balls between outfielders, and especially those bloopers between outfielders and infielders. Foul territory is just as important as fair territory. Remember to mix in bunts and foul pop ups for the catchers.
As the players become more successful at the drill, you can add a time limit and a reward if they win. If they lose you can have a light “punishment” such as a lap around the field. That way they know that there is something on the line, just like there is with a game. This will bring out the competitive nature in some and show you which ones fear the worst possible outcome.
When they are successful and win they are excited about beating the coaches and overcoming a tough drill by working as a team.
Goal: For each player to successfully field a pre-determined amount of ground balls in a row in each line.
Set-up: There are three different lines of players in the infield. Start with an equal number of players in each line. Each line is facing a hitter (coach) and a catcher (anybody can catch, you can even rotate players here), which are standing on the 1st base line. The first line is near and parallel to the 3rd base line. The first person in line about 30’ away from their hitter and they will field balls right at them and throw them back to their catcher. The second line is near the pitcher’s circle (avoid the pitching rubber). They are also 30’ away from their hitter and they will field backhands and throw them back to their catcher. The last line is deep, behind 2nd base about 60’ away from their hitter and they will field balls and throw them back to their catcher.
Prior to the drill, the team is told what the magic number is for the day for this drill. For example, if we want a tougher day we might choose “10”, but if want a quicker day we might choose “4” or “5”. Each player must be set and ready to go quickly when it is their turn. They must field each ball cleanly and make a good throw for each point to count. The catcher should call out the number on each catch they make in order to keep track. When the player fields and throws cleanly the correct number of ground balls, they can move to the next line. If they miss one or make a bad throw, they go to the end of their line. While the players are standing in line waiting their turn, they are to be cheering on and building their teammates that are fielding at that moment. The person that is second in each line should “shadow” or mimic the player actually fielding each ball.
Our pitchers use their regular glove for each station (to keep their pitching hand safe) while the rest of our players use baby gator gloves for the backhand line and use flat gloves for the other two lines. Once they improve, you can add some pressure to them and make things more game-like by having a time limit for this drill and a “punishment” such as a lap around the field for each line they did not finish.
This is a drill that we use almost every with all players. It is a great sense of accomplishment when each player finishes this drill