Nothing makes a fielder look sillier than a short hop. Here is a drill ideal for teaching your squad to anticipate and cleanly field the ever-challenging short hops and long hops.
Purpose of the Drill
This drill is used to prepare the fielder for short hops and longer hops. Two athletes will get on both knees about 15 to 20 feet apart facing each other. They will then play catch by throwing hops at one another, varying between short and longer hops.
The key to the athlete fielding the ball is to understand where their hands need to be. What is most critical is that the throwing hand is on top of the glove to prevent the ball from popping out, as well as keeping the glove out in front.
The coach needs to emphasize that on the short hops, the fielder presents his glove in a manner so that he can field the ball out front. On the longer hop, the ball will bounce higher in its trajectory as it closes in on the fielder, therefore the fielder's glove will not be out in front so much.
So again, on short hops make the fielder force the hands out front and not into his body to field the ball, and then just the opposite for a longer hop. This drill also allows the fielder to recognize different hops in relation to where they bounce in front of the fielder. Make sure that the athlete who is throwing the ball doesn't just lob balls in; make him throw them hard. If they just lob it, you aren't helping the fielder at all.
Break Those Wrists
One other aspect that I teach, but may not be in your philosophical beliefs, is that I have our infielders break their glove wrists as they field the ball. If you can imagine that the tips of the glove (fingers) are touching the ground, NOT the backs of the fingers...we do this to prevent the ball from rolling up the arm and/or the ball hitting the heel of the glove and bouncing out. So I incorporate this into all of our infielder drills.
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