Are you a first-time softball coach? Maybe, you're a veteran coach looking to polish up the ol' practice plan. Or, you're an elite softball player who is looking to get better on the diamond. Either way, the team at JustBats.com is here to help make yourself and your team excel. Hitting, fielding, pitching, and catching drills are all equally important and need to be practiced tirelessly so team goals can be accomplished. Without further ado, here are the best softball drills for fastpitch softball.
For simplicity, these top softball drills are categorized by position. Each category includes the two best applicable softball drills, or tips, with a short description of both. Now, let's build on those fundamental skill sets and become more productive and efficient on the diamond.
Infield Drills & Tips
The Ozzie Drill
You won't find a drill that helps players work on their instincts, hand-eye coordination, and transitions better than the Ozzie drill. Have your infielder start on their knees and draw a half moon circle in the dirt around the front of her body (their glove must not go outside of this circle). As the coach (or parent), stand on the pitching mound and start throwing balls with bad hops in their general direction. It is the player's job to keep their fingertips down and scoop the ball out of the dirt and throw it back to you as quickly as possible. Make sure the player is using the frontside and the backside of their glove when reaching for the ball.
Double Play Drill
The double play, also known as the 6-4-3, is a momentum changer on any diamond. But, completing a double play is anything but easy, which is why it must be practiced. To start, have a group of your players (anywhere from 3-5) line up with one player standing opposite of the line and then place a ball at the front of the line. The player with the ball throws it to the player opposite of her and then immediately runs to the other side, while the receiver catches with two hands and continues the cycle. The ball should always be chest high, and the throws can be done underhanded and overhanded, depending on how far apart the lines are.
Outfield Drills & Tips
For this outfield drill, you'll need your catcher, second baseman, and pitcher to participate. The goal of this drill is for your outfielders to practice making the long toss from the outfield all the way to home plate with precision. Have your outfielders take a ball and scatter across the outfield. They will then take turns attempting to throw their ball all the way to home plate so that the catcher can tag out a runner without moving. As the outfielders take turns, it is the catcher's job to determine whether or not the ball is on line or off line. If the catcher believes the ball is off line, they must yell, "Cut Two." Once this phrase is yelled, the pitcher must cut off the ball and make a throw to second base. Repeat as many times as desired or until your outfielders make a certain amount of throws in a row without having to cut two.
Can of Corn
For those who have never heard the phrase can o' corn, it is a high, easy-to-catch, fly ball hit to the outfield. Grab your fungo bat and start hitting softballs as high into the air as possible. Your outfielders must then communicate who is closest by yelling "Can of Corn!" If one of your players drops a catch, have them do conditioning, sit-ups, or push-ups. This is a simple, yet fun drill that all outfielders will appreciate.
Pitching Drills & Tips
Pitchers should always have a go-to pitch to complement the handful of other pitches in their arsenal. Do you have a favorite pitch you choose when you're in a jam? Regardless if you do or don't, read on and you may find your new favorite pitch.
How to throw a drop ball
- Lay your fingers across the smile of the ball with the thumb opposite your middle finger.
- Snap and pull the ball up as it releases your fingertips.
- Upon release, your shoulders need to be over your front knee.
- Always have a strong arm circle.
How to throw a curveball
- Lay your middle finger on the smile of the ball and tuck your index finger with your thumb on the opposite side.
- Snap the ball across your body on release with your palm up.
- Have your stride be slightly off center and pull across your body.
- Always have a strong arm circle.
Catching Drills & Tips
Catchers easily have the most physically demanding position in softball. Squatting for an entire game does serious damage to the knees and other joints. When it comes to becoming an elite player behind home plate, it all starts with your stance. Here is Ashley Holcombe's, a former catcher for Team USA, stance tips.
- Always start shoulder-width apart.
- Put your weight on the inside balls of your feet.
- Place your mitt in a position where you can conceal your pitch signals.
- Stay as relaxed as possible and don't get stiff.
Next up is the importance of being able to throw runners out at second. It is the responsibility of a catcher to keep an eye out for baserunners looking to steal.
- The most important thing is that you get rid of the ball as quickly as possible.
- Focus on the catch first and then quick to the ear.
- Stay balanced and bend your legs as you stand up.
- Point your elbow at your target and throw the runner out.
Hitting Drills & Tips
Before we dive into the top two hitting drills, watch two-time Olympic gold medalist, Michelle Smith, give a softball hitting tip.
To recap, follow these two simple steps when hitting off a tee:
- Make sure the ball is slightly behind your front foot on contact.
- Your stride should put you in a position where your weight is on your back leg and that your direction is toward the path of the ball.
Drop Ball Drill
One of the best hitting drills for increasing bat speed and improving hand-eye coordination. Have you player stand in the batter's box as normal (or have your hitter face a fence or net for easy retrieval). Stand just outside the plate and towards the mound, but outside of the swing plane so that you don't get hit. Hold a softball above your head and then drop the ball directly into the contact zone. The player must then try to hit the ball with proper mechanics before it hits the ground. Adjust your drop higher or lower depending on the batter's speed and make sure not to let the hitter use improper mechanics to cheat the drill.
Live Batting Practice
Honestly, there is no better hitting drill than to take live batting practice. Whether that be in a batting cage or with your pitcher on the mound and catcher behind home plate is entirely up to you. Fundamentals and mechanics are of equal importance, but if you're not practicing at game speed, it is hard to improve your hitting ability. So, grab your softball bat and go through an entire bucket of balls (or 10) and improve your hand-eye coordination, timing, and overall swing speed.
There you have it. These are some of the best drills for softball practice. What do you think? Do you have a favorite drill that we left out? Leave it in the comments section below so that we can add it to the list. Remember, if you have any specific softball bat related questions, our Bat Experts are available via phone at 866-321-2287, email at email@example.com, or you can click here to live chat. Don't forget, we'll be here for you from click to hit!