Purpose: Get fielders to call for the ball.
As with many of the best ideas on WebBall, this one came to us first as a suggestion from another coach: throw the ball up between two players and make sure communication takes place.
What we've done is show a couple of ways to make it involve more players and more situations. The principle behind this drill is an understanding of zone coverage and fielding responsibilities.
RED lines are direction of ball throws or simulated hits.
BLUE and BLACK lines are direction of player movement.
Position fielders in pairs 75-100 feet apart. Normally the set up is as shown at 'A'. Each fielding pair is in tandem...
- Infielder with an outfielder
- Third with Left
- Short with Center,
- Second with an extra outfielder
- First base with Right Field.
Each team might have their own tosser - a coach or another player, who then rotates.
Before beginning, coaches should make one thing clear - what to call.
Recommended call these days is not "got it" which might mean "you got it" or "I got it" or "who's got it?". Instead, many coaches ask their players to call "mine - mine - mine!" It's more obvious and more confident. (Also see 'By the Numbers' below.)
Run the Drill
Each tosser underhands the ball up so it will come down midway between the two fielders - one charging in, one turning and sprinting out. (See 'turn and sprint'.)
: The judgement to call it out must be made with confidence and certainty, at which point the other fielder MUST tail away into a back-up position - eyes no longer on the ball, concentrating instead on staying about 15' feet from the caller, waiting for the clean catch or dropped ball.
If appropriate for your team, rotate the three players in a group so each gets turns tossing, charging, sprinting back.
- Laterals: You can also use the set-up to work on lateral coverage communication between two infielders or two outfielders as shown at 'B'. The rules for calling it and backing it up are the same.
- Fewer Tossers: 'B' shows another variation in which only 1 tosser is used for two pairs of players. The one tosser for 2 team set-up can work on the 'A' side also for infield/outfield tandems.
- More Variations: Extend this drill for both infield and outfield by adding base coverage, and other variations as explained under Turn and Sprint.
By the Numbers
Here's a variation we really like: Players call their fielding positions. In almost every case, the higher the number the higher the priority. So shortstop (6) can call off 3rd base (5) and 2nd base (4) for instance and left field (7) can call off short stop.
The only time this doesn't work based on coverage zones is the priority of center fielder over right. To solve that problem, you could switch CF to number 9 and RF to number 8. As a player, you know your number and you call it out. If you hear a higher number being called, you give way. If you only hear lower numbers, you call your number even louder and make the play.
The great thing about this system is that there is never a chance of two players calling the same thing at exactly the same time and not hearing the other. Highly recommended.