How to Keep Young Baseball Players Focused on the Ball

How many times do players, especially young ones, pull up too fast on a grounder in anticipation of making the throw to first only to leave the ball back on the ground or bobbling it because they have taken their eye off the ball.

This drill helps teach players to look the ball into their glove before they set and throw to a base. Since they have to read the number on the ball, they learn to pick it up and handle it first before throwing it. It also helps teach reacting and throwing to different bases.

Drill Set-Up

Players line up between third base and shortstop position facing a thrower at home. There is one player at first base and one at second base. The thrower has 12-24 balls with either #1 or #2 written on the ball.

How the Drill Works

  • The thrower rolls a ball to the infielder, who fields the ball and reads the number on the ball.
  • If it's ball No.1, the throw goes to first base. (First baseman throws to second base. Second basemen runs the ball to the bucket that is at the shortstop position.)
  • The players rotate while ball is being put in the bucket (fielder goes to first, first baseman goes to second, and second baseman goes to end of line).
  • Once the ball is put in the bucket, the next ball is rolled. If ball is No.2, throw goes to second base, second throws to first, first throws back to second and second baseman runs ball to bucket as the players rotate again.
  • Each time throw is made, player must tag base before next throw is made.
  • Wild throws must be retrieved and the base tagged before the throw to the next base is made.
  • Any of the three players can retrieve wild throws but the ball must go back to proper base before next throw.

The drill can be turned into a competition by splitting up into teams and simultaneously conducting the drill (other team starts in between home and first and throw to third for no.1 and home for no.2) or timing each team on how long it takes them to complete 12-24 balls.

Emphasis should be put on setting the feet to throw to the proper base and that making good throws will avoid lost time chasing after wild throws.

As players advance, make sure proper footwork for tagging a base and throwing to the next base is taught.

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