Here's pitching drill to teach pitchers to practice turning the double play on comebackers to the mound. It's called the double play drill.
Infielders will take their positions in the proper spot. One pitcher will be stationed on the mound, with the entire pitching staff lined up down the 1st base line in foul territory. One coach will be at the plate with a fungo bat. Another coach, will be on a knee behind the mound. The coach at the plate will trigger the drill by stepping in the box. The pitcher, who delivers from the stretch, will throw the glove across the plate. As the ball crosses the plate, the coach in the batter’s box will hit a ground ball to the pitcher. Instantly, after the ball is hit, the other coach behind the mound will yell out the base the pitcher must start the double play. The coach can yell,” Three, two, or home!” The infielders must anticipate that they we start the double play every time, so they must maintain their focus throughout the drill. After the pitcher starts the double play, he will sprint off the field and to the back of the line, along the first base side. Another pitcher will sprint on the field and start the drill all over again. Initially, the outfielders will back up the bases during the drill’s first phase. After the first round, the outfielders will race from their positions and work as baserunners.
During the second round, outfielders will work on their jumps and slides during the pitch and batted ball. The pitchers are allowed to try and pick off runners during the second round. Pitchers will work to perfect their pickoffs to third base, which may be handy someday in a game situation. The coach, behind the mound, will signal the pickoffs as well as the double play calls. Also, the catcher will be allowed to call two pitch outs during round two to throw out players at second or third.
During the final round, outfielders will not only work as baserunners, but practice bunting as well. Since this drill is serving as defensive preparation, outfielders will be asked to bunt the ball back at the pitcher. Typically, this is not a practice our bunters would incorporate, but for this drill our outfielders are working on controlling the bat and ball placement. Even in the final round, the coach behind the mound continues to call out the base, which the double play will start.
This drill challenges pitchers to improve their fielding skills, while incorporating the entire team in skill development. Each round should last 3-4 minutes and each pitcher should at least get 10 repetitions throughout the 12-minute period.
Coach Jerry Kreber is a high school baseball coach in Omaha, Neb., and owner of the blog Baseball Ideas, www.baseballideas.blogspot.com.
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