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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Baseball Coaching Digest - Pitcher Fielding Practice Drills - Double Play Feeds and Covering First

Pitcher fielding practice should be an important part of every team's regular practice routine. Pitcher fielding practice is an activity that allows pitchers to practice fielding and making good throws to the different bases in different situations.

Our Pitcher Fielding Practice or PFP, as it is called, requires all infielders and all pitchers. The activity takes only 7 minutes. Therefore we do PFP drills every day in practice. This practice activity requires two coaches to fungo or hit the ground balls, 6 baseballs, and 4 catchers alternating and catching up.

First Set - Pitcher Covering First and Bunt throw to 2nd Base

We begin the activity by having 2 middle infielders report to their position. We will then divide the pitchers into two groups. One line will be getting over to first on a ball hit to the right side. The other line will be fielding bunts and making the throw to second. This is the first segment of the drill and we do this for 3.5 minutes without a beak. The pitchers will rotate lines after each throw.

The "cover first group" works on the right side of the diamond. The bunt cover to 2nd base group works on the left side of the diamond. The line will run out toward 2nd base. The pitchers will set up even with the pitching rubber but will shade to their respective side to allow enough space for both groups to work at the side time without delays or stopping.

Coaching Points: Covering First

The pitcher will must take a good angle toward the line and work up the line toward the bag. The catcher will yell, "get over" each time a ball is hit. The first baseman will communicate with the pitcher to let him know if he will take to the bag himself. If the first baseman bobbles or is slower getting to a ball, the pitcher will setup and stretch on the throw. It is important that the pitcher avoid shading over into the base path in order to avoid a collision with the runner. The pitchers will work out of the windup.

Coaching Point: Bunt throw to 2nd base

The pitchers and catchers will make a call. If the catcher can field it, he will. If the pitcher fields it, the catcher will make a "2 call". Communication and verbal calls by the catcher is an important part of this drill. The pitcher must make a perfect throw every time. Make sure that the pitcher has the right approach to the ball and sets the feet before picking it up, if he can. Good footwork will save time and make execution of the throw easier. The pitchers will work out of the stretch.

Set 2 - "Squeeze Play and Throwing to Second Baseball to Double Play"
During the second half of PFP's we will have the "right" side group field a "come backer" ground ball and make a throw to 1st or 2nd. The "left" side group will may a "do-or-die" play on a squeeze play for 1 minute and then cover home on a passed ball for the remaining 2 minutes.

Coaching Point: Comebacker

The coach will call out where runners are before the ball is hit. The pitchers always work out of the stretch. The catcher will make a "2 call" if the ball is a double play ball and there is a runner on 1st. If the ball is bobble or too slow for to turn two, the catcher will make a "1 call" and the pitcher will make a throw to 1st. If no runners on base the pitcher will make a throw to 1st. We will vary the situations on various days. The coach may call a runner on any base or all bases. The pitcher may check a runner at 2nd and go one, check a runner at 3rd and go 1. The pitcher may have to go home with it if the 3rd base man makes a "4 call". The pitcher may also turn two if the catcher makes a "2 call". All infielders are used during this drill and "talking" is vital.

Coaching Point: Squeeze Play - Cover Home

The "left" side group will may a "do-or-die" play on a squeeze play for 1 minute. The pitcher must charge the ball and use a "scoop and throw" technique to get the ball to the catcher. The winning run is at third and the play is a "do-or-die" play. Speed and accuracy is important. The catcher must complete the play with a simulated tag. Next, the pitcher will practice covering home on a passed ball or wild pitch. The catcher will retrieve the ball using a "slide by" pickup technique. The catcher must make a perfect tag spot throw to the pitcher. The pitcher will hustle, set up for the throw and finish the play with a simulated tag.

Note: A lot of action is occurring is this 7 minute drill. If commit only 7 minutes so the "sense of urgency" make the kids really bounce around and hustle. Each fielder receiving a throw will step out of the drill and make a throw to the 2nd catcher in their drill. The catcher will then toss the ball to the coach for the next rep. The catchers alternate each side every other day. One day two catchers will work the "right side" drills and the next day they will work the "left side" drills.

I hope you find this information useful and beneficial. I know that you can add and make improvements to this activity as you use it. Good Luck till next time, Nick Dixon.

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Nick Dixon is the President and founder of Nedco Sports, a sports training company established in 1999. Dixon is also an active and full time high school baseball coach with over 25 years experience. Coach Dixon is better known as the inventor of the BatAction Hitting Machine, the SKLZ Derek Jeter Hurricane Hitting Machine, the SKLZ Target Trainer, the SKLZ Derek Jeter ZipnHit Pro, and the SKLZ Strikeback Trainer. Dixon is also a contributing writer for BaseballCoachingDigest, the Youth Baseball Digest, the Baseball Parent Guide, the Baseball 2Day Coaches Journal, and Blog4Coaches.

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Hello Baseball Friend,
I welcome any comments or suggestions. If you have a question or a topic that you would like to read about, please leave a comment and I will try to address that topic as soon as I can. Good luck in the coming season!
Have a great day, Nick