Ultimate Guide Of 17 Softball Drills To Master The Sport
Softball is a great sport with many things to learn, and sometimes it can be quite difficult. There are good days and bad days, worse teams and better teams, good luck and bad luck. However, you don’t always need to rely on these things as you can master the necessary skills by practising with the right drills,
The four basic skills you need in softball are batting, throwing, catching, and running. Then, of course, your physical athleticism and played position are also very important.
If you came here to learn about the best softball drills that will lead you to victory, and even better, make yourself better than the day before, you came to the right place as you will find everything here!
Without a further due, let’s look at the different drills, and I’ll start with my favorite, batting.
- Position drills
- My Favorite Softball Equipment
Batting is a vital part of softball, as when your team is on the offence, you can score runs. If the batting lacks, you won’t have time to advance on the bases to ultimately come home and make a run. These runs will be so much easier to get if you and your team are good at-bats.
In addition to the batting itself, it’s important to understand how different bat materials will affect your batting. I highly encourage that you are educated in the matter as the materials have big differences.
Now, what are the different softball drills you can do to improve your batting skills?
When you are a powerful batter, you can make the ball fly faster and further, which gives you and your teammates more time to advance.
My favorite power drill focuses on the form and hitting the ball from a softball batting tee.
- Taking a position: Start by taking a position by placing the batting tee accordingly and a softball on top of it. Place yourself next to the batting tee like you would in a pitched swing.
- Adjusting your stance: As a rule of thumb, you want to take a wide stance for increased stability so you can add more power. In addition, there should be a separation between the movement of your lower body and upper body. In essence, once your front heel is down, meaning you are ready to swing, your back hip starts the swinging motion forward before your torso and hands. Repeat the motion before swinging.
- Swinging the ball: After your repetitions and a feeling of confidence, take a swing with the stance in mind, and you should make a great swing. To increase power, you need to do a lot of repetitions with the correct stance and movement, so don’t expect to see huge results at first.
- Reviewing performance: After the swing, think about how the swing went. If you have trouble doing that, you can accurately measure the swing performance by using a Softball Swing Analyzer that you can shoot videos with, compare with an IOS or Android app, and get tips on improving. Another way is to use a Velocity Speed Gun to measure the speed of your spall after each hit.
Check out this video about the drill to visually understand how it’s done.
This can get much more fun if you do this as a team because you can host a competition. Each player should get three swinging turns with the same pitching speed (or from the batting tee), and the power should be measured. This way, you can get teammates motivated and, over time, increase the batting power.
Speed is really important to get in order in softball. This is because a softball pitching distance is 17ft shorter than in baseball, so the players have less time to react, on average. Also, when you can react fast on the ball, it greatly decreases miss-hit and poor swings!
That being said, my favorite batting speed drill is a High Toss Low Toss drill!
You will need a bat, two softballs, and a partner for a high low toss drill. If the batting trainee is very young, the partner should be a parent, coach, or someone who can toss right.
- Taking a position: The swinger takes her bat and takes position at a plate or where ever you are training. The tosser should sit by using something to sit on or kneel at a 45-degree angle from the hitter 10 feet away.
- Tossing: The tosser starts by holding two balls stacked on top of each other, and when the swinger is ready to take a swing, he tosses both balls into the air and shouts ”High” or ”Low”.
- Swinging: The swinger then takes focus on the called out ball, takes a swing, and tries to hit a line drive.
Using two balls, the hitter doesen’t yet know which one to swing, so it takes and improves quick reflexes and swing speed. In addition to improved speed, high low toss also improves timing and hand-eye coordination.
When at bat, accuracy plays an important role in how fast the opponents will get the ball and throw to the bases, so it goes hand to hand with power and speed. If you have a great hitting accuracy, you can swing the ball into the least occupied position on the field, slowing the opponents to gain the ball.
In addition to the ball position on the field, you must contact the ball in the right position, preferably to the bat’s sweet spot. By hitting the ball with the sweet spot, you will increase the chance of pop which will greatly add more power and speed to your ball.
My favorite accuracy drill in softball is The Hitting Stick Drill
This drill doesen’t need much explanation, but you will need a bat, partner, and a hitting stick for it. You can get a real good one from Amazon.
- Taking positions: Take a position for the swinging area. The hitting stick holder should stand at a good distance, so it’s easy to take a swing on the stick.
- Drill: The stick holder holds the stick above the batter’s head and places it in a swinging location of her choosing. The batter takes a swing at the end of the stick.
- Continuity: Repeat by placing the stick in another location so the batter can take a new sing. Do this as many times as needed.
It’s good to remember everything else that considers batting, such as stance and movement so that it doesen’t complicate real batting. The stick holder should place the stick into every position that a real pitcher can throw the ball to maximize the benefits.
Bunting is a great offensive strategy in softball that should be used occasionally. On most bunting occasions, the bunter will sacrifice herself to move a runner to the next base. However, bunting can also be used to advance yourself to the next base. To learn more about bunting, be sure to check my article about it.
When it comes to bunting drills, I recommend the drill of Bunt and Run.
This drill requires 12 people in total; 4 bunters, 4 pitchers, and 4 catchers.
- Take positions: Start by taking positions on the infield. Pitchers take place in the middle of the diamond, bunters on every 4 bases, and catchers behind the bunters.
- Throwing: All four pitchers throw simultaneously to the bunters.
- Bunting: Bunters lay down drag bunts to their left sides, and run to the next base. All bunters go clockwise in the same direction.
- Catching: Cathers fetches the balls and returns them to the pitchers.
- Repetition: Repeat the drill until all bunters have bunted on all bases (four times)
- Switch positions: Bunters to pitchers, pitchers to catchers, and catchers to bunters.
To make things easier or harder, you can ask the pitchers to throw slower or harder depending on your current skill level, and you can bunt with less or more power and accuracy.
When talking about secret offensive weapons in softball, it’s all about slapping. Slapping is sort of like bunting, but you are moving before you slap the ball so you can reach the first base, almost certainly. Oh, and you need to be a left-handed batter to benefit from it as when slapping from as a leftie, the first base is on your way when you start moving.
There are three core parts to focus on when slapping; footwork, timing, and hands. In addition, you need to read the defence as your slapping style (soft slap or power slap) depends on how they are positioned on the field.
To learn more about slapping and the best softball bats for it, take a look at my comprehensive article.
Moving on to the best slapping drill, Slapping Using A Batting Tee.
- Take a position: Start by placing your batting tee in the desired position with a ball on top of it.
- Footwork: Stand behind the batting tee like you normally would. Start by taking a step forward with your left leg and place weight on the left knee. Remember to keep a tight core as it holds a lot of weight and balance.
- Timing: Timing is extremely important in a real situation as the ball is coming toward you. However, you can practice it with a batting tee as well. Try to time your slap at the same time your left foot hits the ground, and the weight is stable and balanced.
- Slapping: Depending on whether you are doing a soft slap that is often done as ground balls or a power slap where you want to get the ball over the defence, slap accordingly. So, if you want to do a power slap, try to hit the ball to the upper half of the softball. For a power slap, hit the ball from below to the below half of the ball to get it up.
Take a look at the six drill slapping circuit by the amazing Megan Rembielak if you want to increase your slapping skills further.
Throwing is a huge part of softball, whether you are a pitcher, other infielders, or an outfielder. You can burn your opponents fast before reaching the bases by delivering successful throws, which are vital if you want to gain victory.
In addition, pitchers are the scorers of a softball team, so depending on whether you or your team have a great pitcher can very well be the determination of a win or a loss.
So, let’s take a closer look at how to improve your throwing game.
Before moving on, you need to understand how to get more power for your throw. It’s an equation of two things; force and velocity.
Force means how strong you are, and velocity means the speed of your arm. By combining these two elements, you will gain power!
Force + Velocity = Power
My favorite throwing softball drill for power is to use Weighted Softballs.
Depending on your current throwing power, you can use a slightly or heavily weighted softball. The benefit of throwing heavier softball build strength, and when you go back to the regulation balls, you will be able to throw them with greater power. You can use the weighted softballs in your training regimen or set a specific time to train to throw with extra weight.
To make a specific drill out of this, you can set a goal by placing an item where you would like to reach the ball.
- First throw: Start by throwing a regulation size ball as hard as possible. Then, see where it lands.
- Work your way up: Take the next heavy ball from the weighted ball set and try to reach the mark with that ball.
- Set a new goal: After reaching the goal, get the next heaviest ball and reach the same mark.
Understand that this will take time, and I highly encourage you implement some strength training, especially for your arms, shoulders, and specifically the rotator cuff muscles.
You can also train with Lite Weighted Softballs.
When you train with lighter softballs than the regulation size balls, you will learn to whip faster, which also is a big factor in your throwing power.
Accuracy is often overlooked, especially when compared to the attention velocity drills get. However, if your powerful throws aren’t accurate, they are as useless as a hockey stick on a softball field.
Before moving on to the accuracy drill, I have three tips to keep in mind to improve your accuracy drastically.
- Imagine a smaller target: When you throw a softball, whether fielding or pitching, don’t just look at the person you are throwing it to. Try to look at their glove or, even better, a small detail on the glove. This increases your targeted focus like crazy and makes you less likely to miss the target drastically.
- Know your limits: This one is very important. Your maximum controlled velocity is very important to know when you make an accurate throw. Most people can’t throw the ball accurately as hard as they humanely can. Instead, there is a golden road between accuracy and your maximum velocity so try to find it rather than throwing with your full power to the audience.
- Follow-through: Crucial aspect if you want to throw the ball accurately in a line you intend. Often, you might flick or touch the ball unwantedly at the last second altering your throws course. In addition, point your target when you are throwing. This makes your throws even more accurate. If you suspect issues with your follow-through, ask someone to watch your throw or videotape it.
Now let’s dig in for the accuracy drill, and my favorite one is simple but fun; Hit The Target Drill.
For this, you will need an open space, a softball, and a target. Your target can be anything from your softball training bag, helmet to a trash bin, or even better, a partner.
- Take a position: Start by selecting a target and placing it on the ground. The best place to set the target is just in front of a wall, so you won’t need to fetch the balls as long. Also, multiple balls will make this more fun.
- Distance: Start by setting a challenging distance, yet you should feel confident about hitting it at some point. When you notice that you hit the target more times than you don’t, you can increase the difficulty by moving steps back.
- Throw: Throw the ball overhand as you would in a softball game and repeat this step to improve your accuracy. Keep the three tips in mind by taking a smaller target off the target, knowing your maximum controlled velocity, following through, and pointing the target.
You can practice Hit The Target with a moving target to make things more interesting. Take a look at a great example below.
Unlike fielder throws, pitchers throw underhand in softball. For this reason, pitchers require different throwing drills as the throwing method is different. In fastpitch softball, the pitchers use a windmill motion that makes the ball go fast.
What is a great pitcher drill for fastpitch softball, you ask? Well, The Arm Circle is great!
- Take a position: Take position in front of the pitching rubber, grab a ball, and have your partner ready.
- Start small: Start by pitching the ball with less power, such as 20 to 40%, and work your way up to higher speed. This way, you can get a good warmup for your muscles and performance.
- Think about your stance: When pitching, you want to push down with your leg and get up on your toe while the ball is highest on your arms circle. In addition, make a full-motion where your shoulders are completely open so that you can get the best motion.
- Add more power as you proceed: After say 10 to 20 warm-up pitches, you can increase the power and add more character to your stance by pushing down more with your leg and adding speed to the arm circle.
Everyone on the softball team needs to catch the ball well. The distances are far shorter than in baseball, so reflexes and catching accuracy are getting worked.
To improve your catching skills, you need good drills for it, right? Don’t worry; I got you covered!
Infield catching drill
When playing as an infielder, the softball will come in and fast. There is no room for mistakes in catching as it can be a matter of a run or burn. Before moving on to the infielder catching drill, I want to share the tips that will make you catch well in softball. These tips apply to outfielders as well.
- Face your thrower: The first thing with a catch is always to face the person throwing at you. By facing your thrower, you are in the optimal position to catch the ball!
- Extend your hands: By extending your hand as much as possible inside the glove, you make it easier for the ball to be hit inside of the glove. Remember, you are the target, so the bigger the target is, the better. In addition, you want to extend your other hand on the side of your glove arm as well. Look at your hand’s extender without the glove. Your fingers should form the letter ”W” when extended side by side.
- Catch the ball with two hands: As the ball comes your way, focus on it and catch it with your glove. Keep your other hand very close and take hold of it with your other hand inside the glove. This way, the ball is secure, and it won’t drop, and if you need to throw it, you can do it immediately without delays.
Now for my favorite infielder catching drill, Quick Feet. You will need a partner for this drill.
- Take positions: Take a 20-30ft distance between your partner and prepare for the drill.
- Move towards the ball: As your partner throws the ball for you, move towards the ball. This means that you will catch the ball as you are moving forward.
- Catching: When you catch, face your thrower, extend your glove hand well, and catch the ball with both hands. At the same time you catch, your front foot should land on the ground while moving forward.
- Quick throw: Quickly transfer both your arms back while holding the ball inside the glove, take a specific target to your partner’s glove on her glove side shoulder, point the target, and follow through on your quick throw.
A quick final tip. You and your partner should throw the ball on the glove side shoulder as you can take the ball out and throw it faster!
Outfield catching drill
Playing as an outfielder, you need to adjust to different kinds of catches, at least most of the time. Only very powerful and high balls will get to you as you are at the back of the field. This means that your catching has different demands than the short and fast throws on the infield.
Let’s do an outfield catching drill called 8-Ball Drill.
For this drill, you will need a thrower, 8 softballs. In addition, I would recommend having one ball collector as well.
- Set up: Start by taking eight softballs with you and a thrower. Position yourselves in an open area where there is plenty of room to run, such as a softball field.
- Throwing: The person throwing throws eight softballs in a row so that as soon as the catcher catches the first ball, the second is already going. Throw the balls as fly balls would fly, and don’t make it easy for the catcher as this needs to train all the angles, speed, and flexibility.
- Catching: As a catcher, your role is to catch all the balls thrown. If it is too easy, ask for the thrower to make it harder and vice versa.
As seven of the balls will ultimately be on the ground, it can be dangerous if the catcher steps on one of the balls. That’s why I recommend having another player following the catcher and picking up the balls as she goes.
The position of catcher is one of the most physically demanding in softball. There are long squatting times involved, which drains a lot of energy. Yet, catchers are vital in a softball team as they need to work well with the pitcher and be prepared to catch every ball the pitcher throws.
So, what is a great catcher drill? I recommend trying The Square Blocking Drill.
For this drill, you will need 4 softballs, a catcher’s glove, leg guards, and strong knees!
- Take a position: Start by placing the four softballs on the ground to form a square. Take position in front of a ball so that it is right in front of you.
- Blocking: Quickly go down to your blocking position by flicking your ankles out and landing on the inside part of your knees. Your glove goes down with the movement between your knees, and your other hand should be right behind the glove, supporting the form.
- Moving in square: Get back up to a catching position and start moving around the four balls while blocking movement. However, to move to the next ball, you need to take a slight step in the right direction and push yourself to be positioned right in front of the next ball. Once you have finished the round of 4 balls, change the direction and do another four.
To see what this drill looks like in action, take a look at Belinda White doing it!
Running is the final basic skill that needs to be mastered in softball out of the total four. The skill of running is involved in almost everything done in softball, from fetching the ball to running for fly balls to sprinting bases.
The most vital type of running in softball is speed or sprint running. Although, endurance is needed as well. Let’s look at sprinting first and a great drill for it.
My favorite drill for sprint development is Sled Sprints.
You will need a Weight Sled or an Agility Sled for this exercise. Then, of course, weights!
- Take positions: First, take your weight sled or agility sled and go to grass or artificial turf field. Sand or dirt field is too harsh on the sled for this exercise. For warmup, take a couple of sprints without any weight and then decide the starting weight and place it on the sled.
- Drill 1: Place the according to the amount of weight on the sled, grab the top handles, bend over so your arms are straight and keep your spine straight. Start pushing the sled for 80-165ft (25-50m) while sprinting as hard as you can. Take a 1 to 2-minute break and do it again! Do as many repetitions as comfortable while pushing yourself hard.
- Drill 2: In this drill, you will be pulling the agility sled instead of pushing a weight sled. Use less weight in this exercise than you would in the first drill. Place weight on the sled, put on your harness, and start sprinting as fast as possible for 330ft (100m). Do as many repetitions as comfortable while pushing yourself hard.
I love drills where you do the thing you want to improve but increase the weight somehow, so when you are doing the thing you were training for, sprinting in this instance, it will feel lighter. These exercises build strength to improve sprinting with these two drills.
Cardiovascular endurance drill
To continue your sprint at the same speed you started it, you need endurance. In fact, you will need endurance in most things in softball as they are physically demanding and draining.
My favorite cardiovascular endurance drill is Jump Rope.
- Take stance: Take your jump rope and move onto a firm surface. Take a gentle grip from the ends of your jump ropes.
- Motion: Rotate the rope from the wrist and keep a smooth arch as the rope goes overhead. Bend your knees and don’t jump high to decrease the impact on your knees. Also, keep your elbows close to your core.
- Jump rope: The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends 15 minutes of jump rope. However, this may be hard to do at first in one sitting, so do what you feel comfortable with while pushing yourself hard and work your way up from there.
Jump rope is one of the best cardio exercises you can do. It also burns calories like no other exercise. For example, a person weighing 180lbs (81.5kg) jumping at moderate speed for 15 minutes burns more than 250 calories.
See this great video on how to do jump rope drill properly.
When comparing two softball players with similar skills in batting, throwing, catching, and running, the one with the physical advantage will win. That’s why it’s really important to keep all parts of your body in great shape so you can perform well in softball and other parts of life.
There are five components of physical fitness: Cardiovascular Endurance, Muscular Strenght & Endurance, Flexibility, and Body Composition.
Body composition, in short, is the amount of fat mass compared to lean muscle mass, bone, and organs. Generally, the less body fat you have, the more aesthetic you will look and perform as there is less performance-wise useless mass in your body. Although, fat has its vital tasks in the body as well.
I already went through cardiovascular endurance in the running section of this article. I will be focusing on muscular strength, muscular endurance, and flexibility below, so without further due, let’s start with strength.
Muscular strength training
Muscular strength is needed in every aspect of softball. Below you can see a table of what muscles you need to most when doing a specific skill in softball.
|Skill||Most Used Muscles|
|Batting||Shoulders, Forearms & Wrists|
|Throwing||Shoulders, Triceps, Back & Core|
|Catching||Biceps, Hip, Quads, Abs, Triceps & Glutes|
|Running||Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings, Calves, Hips & Core|
As you can see, many muscles need to be strong if you want to do well in softball, and it’s all areas. Now, let’s look at exercises on how you can improve these muscles at the gym. Remember, if you want to build strength well, you will need weights for it.
Best exercises at the gym for a softball player (click for a video);
- Romanian Deadlift: Great overall exercise for the whole body, especially for quads, glutes, lower back & core.
- Goblet Squat: Great exercise for quads, glutes, and calves. It’s the safest form of squatting.
- Dumbell Reverse Lunge: Great exercise for hip strength, knee stability, quads, glutes, & hamstrings.
- Military press: Great exercise for shoulders, triceps, upper chest, & core.
- Lateral Med Ball Toss: Great exercise for abs, core, hips, chest & shoulders.
With these five exercises, you will build a great body for softball. I love these exercises because they don’t just focus on one or two muscles. Instead, most of them work almost every muscle on your body which is awesome.
Muscular endurance training
Muscular endurance is important in softball because it makes you withstand more load without getting fatigued so fast. So what is a great drill for muscular endurance?
My favorite drill for muscular endurance is the Farmer’s Walk/Farmer’s Carry.
- Take a position: You will need two dumbells or kettlebells. Place them on the floor and make sure you have room to walk forward. Squat down, grab the weights and stand up.
- Focus on the stance: In this exercise, you should engage your core, pull your shoulder blades down and back. Keep your spine straight.
- Farmer’s Carry: Start walking forward while keeping a controlled posture and eyes forward. Continue walking for a desired amount of time or distance. If it feels too easy, grab heavier weights and vice versa.
The farmer’s walk is a great exercise as it targets your entire body! In addition to a great workout for your every muscle, your grip strength will become stronger, and your muscular endurance will improve like crazy.
To see how this is taken to the extreme, check out the video below and see how it can be done. However, you can do it with regular dumbness or kettlebells.
Flexibility is one of the most important things in this article and is so overlooked that it’s often hard to believe. If you train hard and don’t stretch, your muscles will be so stuck that it isn’t enjoyable to sleep or be in your body.
Believe me, I know. I was so long without stretching that I didn’t even know my muscles were stuck because it was the norm for me. However, when I started to stretch, I saw my performance in sports rise, and even better, by overall feeling improved.
There are two kinds of stretching dynamic and static. Let’s review what they are.
- Dynamic stretching: A form of stretching where you use active movements that stretch muscles to their full range of motion. You should do dynamic stretching before you start playing softball, a gym workout, or do any exercise.
- Static stretching: A form of stretching where you hold a single position for a period of time without moving. You should do static stretching after playing softball or doing an exercise. I like to do static stretching before bedtime as well.
Below you can find the five best dynamic and static stretches for softball players (click for a video).
With these stretches, your body will open up, and you will feel great and play better on a softball field!
To spice up your stretching game, I highly recommend using Resistance Bands and a Soft Foam Roller to stretch further and open up your muscle tissues.
As you know, there are nine softball positions. Each position has something unique that needs to be targeted and trained to improve. I already covered drills for pitchers and catchers and all the general skills needed for great softball.
To see more drills for specific softball positions and skill levels, I encourage you to visit The Art of Coaching Softball. They have a lot of free and premium drill videos for softball players!
My Favorite Softball Equipment
Thanks for reading this article. I hope it brought you great value that you can implement into your own life! Here are my top softball equipment recommendations that I think will take your game to the next level.
- Bat: My favorite certified fastpitch softball bat is the Easton Ghost. This bat has a double-barrel construction which is incredible if you are looking for a great feel and are a fan of satisfying pop and sound. The handle is a great bonus as it’s great to hold on to and very thin. The technology used for this bat provides great durability and flexibility. This bat comes in various styles and sizes.
- Softball: The best softballs, in my opinion, are the Franklin Sports Official Softballs. These affordable yet official featured balls are perfect for practice if you want to train with a similar ball as in a real game. These balls have the official 12-inch circumference and weight. The yellow color makes it easy to spot, and the flat seams enable minimal air resistance so that they will fly consistently and far.
- Glove: Rawlings Liberty Advanced Fastpitch Glove should be introduced to every softball player. The 12.5″ size makes it a breeze to catch and secure softballs. The glove is very comfortable as it’s made from full-grain leather, and the pull-staps will perfect the fit. The design is breathtaking as well. Be prepared for a little break-in time tho.
- Fan Equipment: If you’re a fan more than a player, you don’t want to miss Fan Equipment by Fanatics. You can find items from various sports that bear your favorite team’s logo, such as jerseys, gift ideas, or other surprising things.