I'm sure you've had those infield practices where you start off with a whole bucket of balls and next thing you know--due to overthrows and booted balls--your bucket is empty and you have no more balls to hit.
Obviously, this is not good.This means that your defense is making quite a few errors.
But how do you get them to tighten up? How do you get them to treat each ball in a more game-like manner?
Well, you can try telling them to make good throws and use better fielding mechanics, but simply telling them to do those things doesn't always quite up the intensity as much as you'd like. So what else can you do?
Here are five ways to improve your defensive practice:
Softball Defense Tip No.1: Get Your Own Ball
This is idea is for minimizing bad throws. Have your players retrieve any ball they overthrow.
Instead of just letting it go and waiting until all the balls are gone before shagging them, have any player who makes a bad throw immediately go and chase down and/or retrieve their ball.
Now there is a consequence for making bad throws (just as there would be in a game), and even though it's not so harsh, it can encourage players to make each and every throw a good one (just as you'd want them to do in a game).
Softball Defense Tip No.2: Keep Stats
Have a coach keep stats, just as you would in a game, of each player and their fielding percentage. Sometimes, just knowing that each play is being tracked and recorded, gives players an extra incentive to make each play count.
Softball Defense Tip No.3: Three Clean Plays
This little twist to the end of your defensive practice requires that a player make three clean plays before they come in for a break.
As time goes on you can require more and more plays. I usually start out with three the first few times we do this, then eventually increase the requirement to five and eventually seven.