Fast-pitch softball enjoys booming popularity among girls at the high school level, while slow-pitch adult leagues can be found virtually everywhere in the United States. And every one of those players had to start somewhere. You can choose from plenty of fun beginner softball drills to groom the next fast-pitch star, or simply help yourself avoid embarrassment while playing for your office's beer league team.
Pepper is a time-tested drill used in both baseball and softball and is suitable for expert players and novices alike. To play pepper, you'll need four or five players, who alternate positions in a 15-foot radius. One player, the batter, stands facing her gloved teammates, who are arranged in a semicircle. One of the fielders tosses the ball underhanded to the batter, who taps back either a line drive or a ground ball. Whoever fields the ball quickly tosses it back to the batter, who hits it back again. After a few pitches, the batter switches positions with one of the fielders. The beauty of pepper is that it develops bat control and fielding abilities while building camaraderie.
One important fundamental in softball is the ability to execute a quick and accurate relay play. A relay is necessary when the ball is struck deep into the outfield. An infielder sprints to the outfield grass, where he must catch a direct throw from the outfielder, turn and fire toward the correct base. In a relay race, you line up three or four teams consisting of one outfielder, one infielder and one catcher. On the whistle, the outfielder fires the ball to his infielder, who then turns his nonthrowing shoulder toward home plate and throws to the catcher. Even a beginner can quickly get the hang of this. The drill builds bonds among teammates while importing fundamentals and increasing your team's ability to cut down base runners.
In the zip drill, the entire team lines up in two equal lines, side by side with 20 feet separating the two groups. The first player throws the ball to the player opposite her, who then fires it to girl next to the one from whom she'd received it. She then throws it to girl No. 2 on the opposing line, and so on. The ball is to "zip" back and forth up and down the lines as quickly as possible. Coaches may set a specific goal for how quickly the ball is expected to move up and down the lines. This drill is a good team-building exercise and also develops throwing accuracy and quick release.