Not every practice is the same from day to day, but for the most part every practice will have the same basic structure. At some point during practice you’ll warm up, do some kind of position specific defense, team defense, baserunning, and hit batting practice. Now every practice might not be in that order or even hit all of those components. No matter the order, or omissions, of the practice plan an infielder can use each phase of practice, along with their journal, to get better on the defensive side of the ball.
I’m not saying to focus only on the defensive side of your game and not be fully engaged in the practice activity you’re currently participating in. What I am saying is that what most players don’t realize is that you can use multiple facets of practice to gather information that can be used in other areas. Obviously, the defensive focused portions of practice are the times you can really hone your defensive skills, but taking the time to just observe during the other portions and apply what you see to the defensive side of the game is extremely beneficial.
Here are some possible thoughts you, the infielder, could have when your coach posts the practice plan:
- Loosen Arms
- I can use this time to work on my receiving (deflecting, catch & exchange, force outs, tag out), catch & release footwork, multiple arm angles, my transitions from fielding position to throwing, relay turns, long hop/short hop throws, throwing on the move, etc. You can read different warm up throwing tasks here.
- I can watch my teammates take leads and see if I can pick up on differences in their steal leads and normal leads. I then can take those tendencies into the game to see if opponents have the same.
- Team Defense
- I can make sure I know my position’s responsibilities. Now is a time I can work on chemistry, communication, and timing with my teammates.
- Position Specific Defense
- I can focus on improving specific skills in my game.
- Batting Practice
- I can work on my reads and jumps on the ball off the bat, different alignments, and playing at game speed. Batting practice is also the perfect time to take some chances on the webgem plays to see what you’re capable of.
This is not a comprehensive list but it should give you an idea of how you can use each segment of practice to your advantage on the defensive side of the ball. Thinking this way isn’t just limited to your defensive game. You can apply this thinking to every area. Take the down times at practice when you’re waiting for your rep to just observe. Maximize your practice time by taking advantage of all the game has to tell/show you. Sometimes you just have to listen.