The first thing to think about in the ground ball approach drill is what happens before the ball is hit. It is important for fielders to be ready. This doesn’t simply mean watching the ball. It means that they are slightly on the balls of their feet and they might even be slowly moving around as the ball is hit. What I mean by this is that their muscles are not stationary. It is easier to get going when the muscles are on high alert than when they are sitting idle.
In between pitches, the fielders should move around. Re checking the surface around them for anything that might effect the path of the ball for example, puts their mind in a ready position as well. A good way to stay in the game is to include the physical aspect because their is a purpose for it which means the player is mentally in the game as well.
Ground Ball Approach Drill
The approach to the ball begins with a bit of an arc. A rounded path prevents the ball from getting past the fielder because she can make changes to the path if she needs to. It also prevents her from over stepping the ball with her momentum as she gets there. The direction depends on which side of the body the ball is moving.
The initial movement needs to be quick. Then the fielder slows down as she gets to the ball and fields it under control. Using the feet to change and control the speed allows the fielder to keep her glove ready as she is keeping her eyes on the ball.
After the player has control, making sure her footwork is correct is essential. She begins by stepping with her glove side foot first and her throwing side foot slightly behind as in the fielding a ground ball mechanics. If her shuffle isn’t good and the body isn’t in control, this becomes very difficult. However, we want to be able to step with the glove side foot in front of the right foot to gain as much ground toward our target as possible. If the throwing side foot is in front of the glove side foot when fielding, the athlete is off balance and might carry their momentum in a different direction than the target.
Have the players line up in small groups to get as many ground balls as possible. Make sure that the lines are at the distance of the positions from the plate and have them rotate. Hit balls to each side of them and directly at them and have them practice their arc to the ball. Control and keeping the eyes on the ball is key. Modify the speed to the success that the players are having.