Lite Flite Elimination
Use Tennis balls. Each player is thrown a fly ball . Younger players can use their gloves. Balls are so light that they have to catch them with two hands over the head. Older players and more advanced younger players can use bare hands. If player catches the ball he stays in, but if he misses it he's out. This also can be done utilizing the pass pattern drill described below or with real baseballs (when appropriate). When not using gloves, players should attempt to catch ball with one hand over the head. This makes them focus on proper hand positioning and watching ball into hand. Age appropriate: all ages.
A coach or player (this can be long toss for pitchers) serves as quarterback. Player tosses ball to QB and then uses crossover or drop step in appropriate direction before running a "pass pattern." QB throws the ball high enough so that the player can run under the ball and make a one-handed, over-the-shoulder catch. Have player start over if initial step is not executed correctly. We recommend using Tennis balls indoors, however regular baseballs may be used if the practice area is long enough. Age appropriate: all ages.
Thrown Fly Balls
Players must be comfortable catching fly balls properly - with two hands above heads so that the eyes can follow ball into glove - before fly balls are hit to them. This can avoid injury and embarrassment. The simplest way is to throw fly balls to players and force them to do it correctly. Start with short, easy tosses and adjust height of throws to skill and comfort level of players. Younger players can be started out with soft baseballs or Tennis balls to avoid injury and build confidence. This can be turned into an elimination contest for the youngest players. Stress getting to the spot where the ball is coming down and catching with two hands above the head. Age appropriate: all ages.
Thrown Ground Balls
A little different than infielders, but outfielders still need wide base, butt down and hands out in front of body. Get wide by stepping toward home with glove-side leg forward and glove in front of that foot. Players should get comfortable with proper fundamentals before fielding hit balls. Roll players ground balls one at a time. Have them get to the spot quickly, get under control, field properly, generate momentum toward coach and throw. Don't allow players to walk or run through ground balls. They need to slow down and get under control to field properly. It's usually okay to use baseballs for this - even indoors. Age appropriate: all ages.
Outfielders form two lines at least 20 feet apart. First players in each line step forward. Coach throws fly balls in between the two fielders, who must communicate and make the play. Player fielding ball should yell, "I got it!" at least three times. Other player should back up. A strong, accurate throw should be made to coach or cutoff man (another player who rotates out of the drill) after ball is caught. For younger players you can use soft baseballs or tennis balls. Tennis balls can be used to throw higher fly balls for more advanced players, ensuring that ball will land in same spot each time. Age appropriate: ages 7-15+.
Crossover Step Drill
Crossover step (pivot one foot while crossing the other one over in the direction of the ball or next base) is the most efficient way to move laterally on the baseball field. Very important for outfielders. Outfielders line up. Each has a ball. First one steps forward, tosses ball to coach and assumes ready position. Coach tells player which way to go ahead of time. Player crosses over in that direction, then coach tosses ball so it can be caught with two hands over the head. Player should concentrate on crossing over correctly until comfortable doing so. Coach should tell players which direction they will be going ahead of time until they master the step. Then mix it up at will. Use softer balls for younger players until they build confidence. Age appropriate: ages 7-15+.
Drop Step Drill
Much like crossover step drill, but a bit more advanced. Players line up. First one steps forward, tosses ball to coach and assumes ready position. Coach says go and player performs drop step (drop one foot back, turn body and cross the other foot over in the direction of the ball). Coach throws ball directly over player's head, high and close enough that he can catch with two hands above the head. Have players take time to get footwork correct before tossing. Stop players and have them do it correctly before throwing ball if step not done properly. Age appropriate: ages 10-15+.