How can we improve out players’ fly ball catching skills in a short amount of time? The ‘Three Toss Fly Ball Drill’ is part of the solution. It is great for infielders as well as outfielders; is challenging and fun.
This is a drill that is run at a lightning fast pace. The player is moving at full speed throughout. The pace, coupled with the changes of direction, conditions, builds agility, and develops a variety of catching skills. It applicable to any age ...including teens and high school players.
The player catches three different fly balls in this drill, which takes 7-8 seconds per player:
- Ranging Laterally
- Coming in
- Going Back
Ideally this is run with no more than 3 or 4 players. Once each player has been through the drill, the time spent waiting for their next turn is spent catching their breath. If we start with a bucket of 30 balls, depending on the age and skill level of the players, we can get through 15-20 reps, before having to take a break and pick up the balls.
The best situation for using this drill is as a station in a skills rotation. During a five-minute stop at this station each player will get a chance to make a play on 20-30 fly balls.
Keys for the drill to be most effective
- Coach makes low arcing throws – this is Not a drill to train kids to judge high fly balls; we are working on the skill of catching a ball while on the run. Coach is a quarterback throwing passes to a receiver.
- Use an underhand arm action when tossing – this is much more accurate than throwing overhand
- If there is a left-handed player in the group, and you have younger kids (nine and under), run the left-handed player in the opposite direction for the first toss. Otherwise they are making a backhanded play, which is much more difficult.
Keys for the drill to remain fast paced
- Most important – if a ball is not caught the player does not retrieve it; they get ready for the next toss
- Coach is constantly reminding the players to ‘sprint full speed’
- Have as many balls on hand as possible
- Limit instruction to two points:
- Run full speed
- Catch the ball away from your body – reach out with the glove arm
…this is a repetitions activity, not a teaching activity. Make a mental note of teaching points to share afterwards.
What is Going to Happen?
- Coach will make inaccurate tosses – no big deal. Tell the player, “Hey, bad throw, I’ll get better; keep moving”
- Players will miss catches – we clearly instruct them, prior to the drill, that when they miss a catch, to not stop to pick up the ball. They are to get to the next starting point asap and get ready for the next toss
- The rhythm and flow of the drill, the first time it is run, will be a bit clunky – any new activity is less than perfect the first time around.