Objective: To get players to improve their skill for making various throws quickly and accurately, as well as making correct decision as to which throw is best for a specific situation.
Points Of Emphasis: Use least amount of time necessary to move a ball to a location accurately. Learn to throw from various body positions and arm slots, adjusting and compensating as needed. Step only when necessary. Learn to throw with body control instead of balance. Realize that throwing hard may take too much time, especially at short distances. Be prepared for bad throws, especially when thrower is in awkward position or hurried. Make a good catch when someone makes a bad throw. Catch every catchable ball.
Equipment Needed: Balls; throw down bases, cones, or objects to designate a location; stopwatch.
Preparation: Set up throw down bases or cones to establish mini-infields at 20 feet and 40 feet, on the main field, which has bases at 60 feet. Divide players into groups of four. If necessary, place five in some groups and let one alternate each time. Groups will compete in throwing and catching contest. Start by placing a player from Group 1 at home plate, 1B, 2B, and 3B on the 20-foot diamond.
Basic Drill: The catcher starts with the ball and throws it around the 20-foot diamond a designated number of times (suggest 3-5 to start), either HP-3B-2B-1B-HP or HP-1B-2B-3B-HP. After 3-5 times, the players must repeat the process the same number of times at 40 feet and at 60 feet. Entire circuit ends with force play at home plate. The group is timed and must complete the circuit without the ball hitting the ground. If ball hits the ground (may be very common, based on skills), the group loses its turn and the next group begins. The winner is the group that can get ball around entire circuit in least time without ball ever hitting the dirt.
Options: (1) Use a fifth player in each group as a pitcher. In original circuit, each time the ball arrives at home plate, the catcher must throw it to pitcher and have it returned so that that specific circuit is completed. (2) Add more distances, such as 80, 100, and 120, or use 30-foot differences and play 30-60-90. (3) Alter rules to allow ball to hit dirt if receiver catches it. This may slightly decrease emphasis on accurate throwing, but can increase emphasis on catching catchable balls. Consider having advanced players actually being required to throw balls that hop to place extra emphasis on fielding aspect of the drill. You may want fewer rounds conducted, depending on what you observe. (4) Alternate starting point for drill and/or rotate players after each trial, so the drill does not always start at the same place and players in a group do not always start at the same base. (5) Alternate direction of throws after each time around (e.g. HP-3B-2B-1B-HP-1B-2B-3B-HP could count as one circuit or two). (6) Change path of throws so it is not always base-to-base (e.g. HP-2B-3B-1B-HP or other such patterns).
Visit Bobby Simpson's web site at HigherGroundSoftball.com/.