Softball Drills & Practice Plans
When you coach softball at any level, you should focus on player improvement, enjoyment and keeping kids involved. Most players look forward to playing in games, but it can be more difficult to keep them interested and engaged during practice. You can help keep their attention by being organized and having a number of shorter drills.
Pitching is the dominant factor in most competitive softball games, and one of the most important factors in pitching is accuracy. In order to help your pitcher throw accurately, have her pitch from 10 feet past the pitching rubber for about 15 to 20 pitches. This is challenging, but when she pitches from the real rubber, it will be easier for her to throw strikes.
Line up six players from home plate to the left-field foul pole. Do the same down the right-field foul line. Give the two players standing at home plate a softball, and have each of them throw to the first player in line. That player catches the throw, wheels and throws to the next player in line. Keep going in this manner until all the players have caught the ball, then reverse the ball back and keep going until the catcher has it. The first team to complete all the throws without the ball hitting the ground wins the relay. If a team makes a poor throw or drops the ball, they have to restart the drill.
Use a three-ball drill for infielders and outfielders. Hit each infielder three ground balls. She fields the first ball and throws to first base. On the second ball, she throws to second to start a double play. On the third ball, she throws to the catcher to get the runner at home. For the outfielders, hit one long drive that forces the outfielder to retreat to catch the ball, one pop-up that forces the outfielder to come in, and a hard line drive base hit. On that play, the outfielder must pick the ball up and throw it in to the catcher.
In low-scoring games, bunting to advance the runner is critical. To practice bunting., lay out two pieces of circular tarp that are 6 feet in diameter about 20 feet from home plate. One should be on the left side of the infield, and the other should be on the right. In this drill, have each hitter bunt five balls into the left circle and five balls into the right circle. A good bunter should get the ball into the circle at least half the time.
This has to be one of the staples of your practice sessions. Hitters need adequate time in the batting cage to hone their swing and get it game ready. Instead of just having your hitters try to bomb the ball for distance, have them become situational hitters. Have them take five swings where they try to pull the ball, five where they hit the ball up the middle and five to the opposite field. This will help them learn to hit the ball where it's pitched and not make the mistake of trying to pull every pitch they face.
Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman authored The Minnesota Vikings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Who's Better, Who's Best in Football -- The Top 60 Players of All-Time, among others, and placed in the Pro Football Writers of America awards three times. Silverman holds a Master of Science in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism.