Baseball season is a long one, and oftentimes practice repetitions are hard to come by. One of the keys for any high school coach is getting the players significant reps in a short period of time. For Jeffrey Nyce, the Stanford Infield Drill accomplishes just that.
The Lower Merion (Pa.) High School baseball coach has, for years, been running a drill that gets each of his infielders 75-100 grounders in about 30 minutes. The set-up is simple: The infielders line up around the diamond (several at a position, if necessary), and three batters stand near home plate — one in the batter’s box, one slightly up the first-base line and one slightly up the third-base line.
The hitter in the batter’s box fungos the ball around the horn to fielders who then make the throw to first base. Meanwhile, the other two hitters pepper the other infielders — those who aren’t getting a grounder from the batter at home plate. Upon fielding the ball, those infielders simply put the ball in a bucket or lob one-hoppers back to the hitters.
It’s a fairly rapid-fire process that keeps everyone aware, involved and active.
“The guys like it because they get extra reps. It’s a great way to get a lot of reps in,” said Nyce, who first discovered the drill while playing collegiately at Millersville University and has used it in some form ever since arriving at Lower Merion in 2004. “Maybe the outfielders go to the cage, so it’s not like people are sitting around with nothing to do.”
The one slight downside to the drill, Nyce notes, is when there is enough infield depth so that there are multiple players at each position.
“If you have three guys at third base, for example, that’s the only downtime,” he said. “But in general, it’s a decent workout for everyone.”
“The objective is to get the ball to first base in less than four seconds. The average speed for a high school batter is just under four seconds (from home to first),” Nyce said. “We try to put a clock on the guy, and we say from bat contact to the glove at first base in just under four seconds. It’s all about the reps. They can work on technique over and over again. They get the ball and get it out of your glove — hopefully in less than four seconds.”
“It’s not just all routine ground balls,” said Nyce, who tweaks the drill by mixing in backhanded plays, double plays, slow rollers and plays at the plate.”
He also will have the first basemen receive grounders and throw to third base, while he occasionally involves pitchers, although not often because having players on the mound does invite some risk with batted balls and throws sailing all over the diamond.
From GameChanger and Drew Silverman.