As an infielder in baseball, you have to make sure that you are equipped with some pretty impressive skills. You have to be able to corral a hard-hit ball into your glove, analyze where it needs to go, and throw the ball accurately with speed to the base for the out. And, did I mention that while doing that a player is running full speed to try and beat it out? That is just a general idea of what infielders have to go through on a game-to-game basis.
In this post, we will discuss how to become the best infielder you can be with BRUCE BOLT’s favorite baseball infield drills. This guide will take you through all you need to know about infield drills. It will show you the importance of the drills, the muscle memory that goes into improving your basic skills, as well as different situational drills you can use to take your game to the next level. Let’s not waste any more time and jump into how we can help improve your infielder skill set.
Importance of Baseball Infield Drills
Just about everyone in the sporting world has heard the phrase: “Practice makes perfect”. We aren’t going to guarantee that you will be perfect after this guide, but you will understand the long-term importance of doing these types of drills. Doing drills can lead to improvement in multiple areas such as confidence, muscle memory, and overall situational understanding of the position you play. No drill is too simple or overdone enough to take away its benefit. For example, tee work is still done in the MLB, not just in youth baseball. Do not overestimate the power of simple yet effective drills.
Muscle Memory: How Drills Can Improve Your Fielding
Drills can help you become more confident in the field, while also improving your situational awareness of the game. The reason drills can do that is because of repetition which results in muscle memory. Muscle memory is defined as a process that allows you to remember certain motor skills and perform them without conscious effort. Think about it as learning to walk, it seemed foreign at first, but after repetitive practice, we start to get the hang of it to the point that we don’t even have to think about it. That is the same as doing drills in baseball, if you do them enough it becomes second nature for you. In baseball, where game speed is incredibly fast, who wouldn’t want the basics to become an unconscious decision as they focus on the play at hand? The answer is no one!
BRUCE BOLT’s Top Baseball Infield Drills
There are so many different drills out there to master the art of being an infielder. The ones that we highlight in this blog are not the only ones that you should be doing, but they are important ones for the labeled situation that it corresponds with. Also, we want to make it clear most of these translate as softball drills too.
Short Hop Circuit Drill
Short hops are killers for your fielding if you can not time them up correctly. A great practice that you can do to get better at reading short hops is doing a circuit. The circuit works by working both your regular scoop and your backhand scoop. You work your way up from your knees starting with a partner tossing the ball and eventually using a fungo bat. With each level repetition is key.
Level 1: The drill starts with you on your knees and a coach tossing the ball right before you and catching it off the first short bounce. You then will practice both forehand and backhand scoops just with your glove.
Level 2: The drill continues to develop as you stand up and stationarily scoop the ball with the correct stance. The correct stance includes putting the opposite foot forward from where the ball is coming in. For example, if you are a righty receiving a backhand you should have your left foot forward. What this does is make the foot placement fluid for a quick throw to whichever base you need to go to. This is still with a coach tossing the ball and having it land right in front of you.
Level 3: As it evolves so does the movement. The drill turns into a prep step before moving into your final position. How that works is that every infielder has to get in their ready fielding position. When the coach's arm goes back you take the prep step and as the arm is going forward you take your first step with your left as the right plants under your back shoulder. Receiving a forehand will have your shoulder square to the ball and the glove aligned to the ball on the side of your body as you move forward. Backhand will cause your chest to turn back a little with the glove out in front of you. Both work to get your left heel planted first and then push the weight to your left toes as you gather the ball.
Level 4: For the final part of this circuit the coach will now turn to a fungo bat as it is perfect for precision hitting to a specific player. What this simulates is the ball coming at you faster and shortening your reaction time. The importance of this final stage is that you do not let go of what you have built on throughout. Making sure to keep glove positioning as well as foot positioning steady is the best way for this practice to become muscle memory when at game speed.
Double Play Drill
As a middle infielder, the double play ball will include you and your counterpart, for the most part. We want to prepare you for both the second baseman and the shortstop positions. A drill that was highlighted by Matt Antonelli, who saw the Houston Astros do it, was a drill that alternates you between the two positions working footwork and ball control. Footwork is the focus of this drill, however making sure that the ball is being secured in the glove until it is ready to be thrown is another key component.
Step 1: Align four bags in a zigzag formation with the start line being right before the centerfield grass and the finish line being the grass behind the pitching mound. Then, position two tossers on either side playing second and short.
Step 2: Start the drill by positioning yourself as the second baseman, which entails your left foot being off the base and your right foot placed on the bag to secure the out after catching the ball. Once the ball is secured in your glove you then take your front foot and stride it towards first base, making the throw to complete the double-play.
Step 3: After playing the role of the second baseman you will quickly step up to the next bag on the shortstop side. Now you will have your chest facing the second baseman tosser. This time your back foot will be standing on the bag as your front foot is planted towards the tosser. Once the ball is secured, and the out is collected by the ghost runner, you will take a hop step to turn your hips into your throwing positions, which has your front foot facing the first baseman and your back foot planted. Continue this through all four bags. Here is a video of the drill for a visual aid.
Step 4: Repeat these steps to commit the motions to muscle memory.
Ground Ball Drills: Important Factors
As you can see in the situational drills we keep highlighting three main factors: footwork, glove positioning, and repetition. Ground ball drills are always going to be centered around one of the three aforementioned factors if not all of them at once. They are important because it is the foundation for consistent success in the position. As for a drill that is low maintenance and super simple you just need a ball and a rebounding surface. Throwing a ball at something that can get it back to you is a great way to perform a baseball infield drill that trains all three factors.
Expert Tips from BRUCE BOLT
To keep it short and sweet, we have three points that we want baseball players to understand. First, being confident in your skills is the best thing that you can develop while training infield drills. Doing drills until you feel confident enough to do them in your sleep is a great way to bring that performance into a game. Second, attack the ball. No matter if the ball is a slow roller or well-hit, you need to attack it and bring the action to it with soft hands. The only times you want to wait on the ball are long hops, fly balls, and pop-ups. Lastly, knowing the importance of a quick transition from glove to throwing hand. This can be the difference between an out and a runner on. Practicing your transition after you receive the ground ball in all of the above drills is a great way to elevate your fielding.
Take Your Game to the Next Level with BRUCE BOLT
Training to become the best infielder you can be does not have to be a boring one-player campaign. At BRUCE BOLT we want to help you every step along the way. From our batting gloves to posts like this one we are here to be your go-to source for gear and insights that can take your game to the next level. Shop BRUCE BOLT today!