My Softball Field Problems and the SOLUTION!

My Practice Field Problems

My Softball Field Problems and the SOLUTION

"It’s hard to get in a good practice because my practice field is terrible". I hear this complaint way too often. Let’s get the obvious out of the way first and then we will get to the solution. I totally agree that a nice field is great for practice. And yes, you should contact your league, the city, and any private owners of land to see about getting a field and making it playable. But for now, lets assume this is a real challenge and your players need quality practice time and not an excuse from the coach.

My Softball Field SOLUTION

Get creative. Forget the giant manicured field with the nice backstop. What you need is a tennis court. I love practicing on a fenced in tennis court. Think about it for a moment. It keeps all the balls contained in a small area so you’re not wasting time shagging balls, it is already divided into 5 natural practice stations, and if you are lucky it might even have city lights so you can practice longer.

Optimized Softball Field

"Did you say 5 natural practice stations?" Yep, five. The four corners and the middle of the court…we want to optimize all of our softball field. In corner #1, set up a tee and have the girls hit whiffle balls off the tee into the corner. In corner #2, practice bunting. In corner #3, practice ground ball technique. In corner #4, practice pop fly technique. In the middle, have the girls throw to each other. This allows you to have 2-3 girls at each station and as they complete one station they rotate around to the next. You will get in tons of valuable softball drills, keep the girls busy, working, and eliminate any rough field or footing problems that come along with poor practice fields.

Station #1, Fastpitch Drills - Hitting tee:

You do have a hitting tee and whiffle balls, right? How have you made it this long without them…never mind, don’t answer that question, just get some (See Practice Balls for a quick read on the best balls to get and where to get them). BTW, a hitting tee will become the batting coach’s best friend. Since you are in a smaller confined space, don’t hit regular softballs. There is just way too much chance for injury, and INJURIES ARE NOT ALLOWED on my softball field. Further, if your girls pound the ball into the fence you are going to damage the fence considerably. Your city officials are NOT going to be excited about seeing their fence with hundreds of ball impressions in it. Set the hitting tee up approximately 8’ from the corner and facing the corner. As one girl is hitting, the other girl is shagging any balls that bounce away from the area. The coach is sitting on a bucket loading the balls onto the hitting tee and observing/coaching the hitter on technique. ANY GIRLS IN THIS AREA MUST WEAR A HELMET. Injuries are not allowed on my softball field.

Station #2, Fastpitch Drills - Bunting:

At this station use the fence corner as a backstop. Have the girl stand in the corner and a coach stand about 10’ feet away tossing balls to her. Any type of ball can be used here since you are just bunting, however, I strongly suggest using either whiffle balls or sponge balls. I prefer the sponge balls since I tend to be able to throw them better than whiffle balls. The regular softballs will get pretty chewed up bouncing on the concrete and going into the chain link fence. So, one girl is bunting, the coach is pitching and coaching, and the other girl is shagging balls from behind the coach. Again, ANY GIRLS IN THIS AREA MUST WEAR A HELMET. Injuries are not allowed on my softball field.

Station #3, Fastpitch Drills - Ground Ball Technique:

There are many different things you can do at this station. I prefer to position the player about 15’ down the fence and the coach back towards the corner. Roll some balls straight at them, some to the left, and some to the right. Remember, we are concentrating on technique and not necessarily challenging how far they can cover. Have them receive the ball correctly, then snap up to a good throwing position and throw the ball back to the coach. Trust me, if they take about 30 balls at this station they should have worked hard and be ready to move on to the next station.

Station #4, Fastpitch Drills - Pop Fly Technique:

Select a ball that is appropriate for their age and skill level. You can use tennis balls, whiffle balls, sponge balls, or softballs. If they are 7 years old and have never played before use a ball that if it hits them in the face they won’t end up with a broken nose. The key to this drill is to have the coach start off only about 3’ away from the player and throw pretty low pop flies…maybe only 3 or 4 feet in the air to start off depending on your players ability. Then, as the player gains confidence slowly increase the height of the fly ball and increase your distance from the player. You can even work on moving to the ball left and right, but don’t get carried away since there are players all about the tennis court. (Be sure to read Beginner Fly Balls for more information.) Again, concentrate on the technique.

Station #5, Fastpitch Drills - Throwing:

Girls can never throw the ball enough. Granted, a tennis court isn’t as roomy as a softball field, but there should be ample room to have one or two pairs of girls playing catch. Have the girls stand in the middle of the tennis court and throw to each other from side to side. Be sure they are not throwing at an angle where an errant throw could hit someone at another station. There are lots of drills that can be worked on in this area: the wrist snap, speed throwing, shovel throw, underhand toss, or just regular throwing. Pick a drill that is appropriate for the limited space.

If you will follow these drills and have this type of practice once or twice a week you will be light years ahead of most of the other league teams you face. Utilizing the tennis court as your softball field and having stations with softball drills will absolutely maximize your practice time. In fact, it would be hard to duplicate this much practice on a regular softball field. And what most girls need is repetition, repetition, and more repetition. Teach them the correct technique and drill it into them before you ever hit a regular softball field and you will be way ahead of the game and well on your way to Winning Softball.

Now, Go Get ‘em Coach!

Be sure to check out Essential Coach Tools to see what equipment will benefit your team the most. Within that section you will find articles on

Practice Balls Review & Pricing Survey, the Hitting Tee and other MUST have equipment. If you are starting to accumulate a ton of practice gear and still lugging around the Giant Canvas Potato sack, you should check out the Team WHEELED Equipment bags.

 

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