The idea of this drill is to teach new and intermediate fielders—especially infielders—to get in the habit of centering on ground balls.
(I'm not sure why we called it the "sticky wicket drill," but the girls liked the name and it just kind of stuck... and it works.)
Setting Up the Drill
The drill works like this: The fielders line up without their gloves behind third base, with the line extending into foul territory.
The coach is at home plate with bat and ball, and one player as the catcher. One additional player is in short left field and acts as the "backup."
Running the Drill
The coach will shout out "go" and simultaneously hit a ground ball between third base and shortstop. As soon as the ball is hit the first player will take off from third base.
The idea is for the fielder to get to the ball and spread their legs so the ball goes directly between them without hitting either leg—thus centering on the ball.
For the first three or four repetitions, the players will not field the ball but only allow it to pass between their legs. The first one or two times through each player will just position themselves.
The second or third time through, the coach will ask them to bend down as if to field the ball, but let it pass through to the backup player, who will then throw it home to the catcher.
Using the Glove
Once all the players have mastered the centering they can start using their gloves, and for the next two or three repetitions they can field the ball and throw it to the catcher.
I use this drill whenever I see my fielders getting a little lazy or ball shy, and trying to "Ole" the ball from their side.
A Little Conditioning Thrown In
This is a surprisingly good conditioning drill that gets the players to do a lot of running without realizing it. Sometimes we add the wrinkle of penalizing anyone who gets hit on the leg, or misses the ball entirely, by making them tell a joke, or run a lap if they don't know any jokes.
This helps keep the practices light and fun. Also if a player cheats, and starts running before the coach shouts "go," the coach can keep the player honest by hitting the ball to third base, behind the fielder. I've used this drill for many years, and the girls even request it occasionally.
We often divide our fielders up into infield and outfield and have the outfielders alternate functioning as the "backup" player in left field. This helps them learn to backup all grounders to the infield and be ready to make the throw home as well.
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