Drills for your infielders: Cover all the angles

Infielders able to complete a double play can be an unstoppable force, particularly in youth leagues where the skill is a rare commodity.

However, it is always essential to start out small with little leaguers. So, just as you would start out your tykes hitting from a tee, you want to prime your infield players with the basics of handling ground balls.

Master the fundamentals of catching and returning to the first baseman with each of your infielders. Start with straightforward hits like grounders and move to line drives later.

Using a paddle field drill can be extremely helpful for this. Whether you use a wooden or rubber material for the paddle, which the athletes wear instead of a mitt, forcing the players to clamp the ball with both hands rather than just their baseball gloves readies them for completing double plays. It enables your infielders to improve their turnaround time from catch to throw.

Have your infielders pair up – one will take the throwing position while the other wears the paddle and catches. There are four aspects you want to vary in this exercise: close and far away (to teach skills for returning both over- and underhand balls), and right and left (to develop both catching sides and mimic game scenarios for your shortstop and second baseman).

Once they have the basics down, position them on the diamond and incorporate lobs sent between bases. This is a common game scenario and will force your infielders to communicate and work out a strategy that will become the first step in their double play. Pretty soon, you'll have a Gold Glove-worthy defense.