The most basic elements on defense is throwing and catching a ball. When teaching your players these elements, it is worth the time to make sure they are doing it right.

If a ball is coming to you belt high or higher, your fingers of the glove hand should be pointing up. To make this more comfortable, you will need to flex

your knees in order to lower your glove to belt level. If the ball is coming to you at a level below the belt, your fingers should be pointed down. You should use both hands to secure the ball. This takes practice and is a good habit to have. When you use both hands, there is less chance of dropping the ball and it also makes it quicker to transition to the throwing position.

When you are catching a ball, you should have soft hands. I’m not saying that you should use lotion, but that as the ball hits the glove, your hands should not be tense like a brick. Balls tend to bounce of bricks.

If a ball is off target to your glove hand side, you should make every effort to move yourself in front of the ball. If it is too far to the glove hand side, you will have to a forehand it, that is to say, when you reach for the ball, your thumb will be pointing up.

If a ball is off target to your throwing hand side, you should make every effort to move yourself in front of the ball. If it is to far to the throwing hand side, you will have to backhand it, that is to say, when you reach for the ball, your thumb will be pointing down and you will reach across your body and end up with your back to the direction the ball is coming from.

Throwing relay race

This is an excellent drill that works on the two most basic defensive elements that we need our athletes to develop. Form two lines (two teams of equal number of players (use 4 for example) stretched out over same

distance. Make sure that each player is at least 40 feet apart. The 1st player throws to 2nd player, 2nd player throws to 3rd player, 3 rd player throws to 4th player, 4th player throws back to 3 rd player, 3rd player throws back to 2nd player, 2nd player throws back to 1st player. First line to complete this wins the race. Rule: each player must catch and throw the ball, If 1st player throws toward 2nd player and 2nd player does not catch the ball, the 2nd player has to go get the ball to continue the relay.

The first thing the players learn is that an accurate throw is very important. Next thing they learn is to transition from receiving to throwing quickly to increase the chance to win the race. A ball thrown to the next player shoulder high is quicker to transition. A ball thrown to glove side also makes for a quicker transition unless the next throw is coming back at you, then you will want to throw to the throwing hand side. receiving with two hands also increases the speed of transition.

The V Drill

A group of three athletes can get a lot of repetitions quickly by using the V drill. Have your players line up about 30 feet apart forming a “V” shape. The athlete at the base of the “V” will be the one getting the work out. The other two will only throw to the one at the base of the “V”. The player at the base will receive the ball from the first player and transition and throw to the other. The other player then throws the ball right back to the one at the base who receives, transitions and throws back to the first player. This is repeated until the base player has caught 10 to 20 throws from each of the other players. Then you can rotate the next player into the base position until they have all had their opportunity.

What you will find is that when the base player receives the ball from one player, their feet are almost lined up for the quick throw to the other player. When the base player receives the ball from the other player, the base player must re-adjust her feet in order to line up the next throw. This is where the base player can really develop a strong “crow hop” to quickly get to that position.

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You Are Important

The coach is the person who communicates with parents, players, umpires, other coaches and your local associations. You facilitate the team by making sure all the equipment is there when it is needed. Most important are the players. You are teaching more than the skills and strategies of fastpitch. The ability to gracefully deal with success and failure, the persistence to keep trying and the confidence that these young ladies learn from you is priceless.

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