Infield Competition Drill
Square Race Game
Baseball and Fastpitch Softball
This Infield Competition Drill article is excerpted from our new book Skill Building Competitions for Baseball and Fastpitch Softball (click the link for details).
For recommendations on how and when to use various training methods (dry, heavy bag, pylos, tee, toss, live, machine, etc.) and to shop for practical and durable training equipment, click on the link Hitting Training Methods and Aids.
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Square Race Infield Competition Drill
The Square Race Game effectively develops the quickness of infield throws that are less than base distance. Reducing the time required to field the ball and then release it toward the target is crucial for getting runners out on the close plays. Your defense plays fast and professionally!
Level of Play:
Ten and over.
Eight throw-down bases.
Outdoors or indoors (great for small spaces).
Indoors – Softie Balls; Outdoors – Regulation Balls.
Position four bases in a square, adjusting the distance between bases depending on the type of throw being trained:
- Forehand Toss – 10′ to 20′ feet apart.
- Backhand Toss – 10′ to 20′ feet apart.
- Drop Knee Pivot Throw Left – 20′ to 40′ feet apart.
- Drop Knee Pivot Throw Right – 20′ to 40′ feet apart.
- Rock-n-fire to the Left (righties, lefties use Pop Feet) – 40′ to 60′ feet apart.
- Pop Feet to the Right (righties, lefties use Rock-n-Fire) – 40′ to 60′ feet apart.
- Four to six players per team; one or two players positioned at each base.
- The ball rotates around all four bases.
- The ball begins with one player for each team. This player rolls an easy ground ball to the player positioned on the base to their right (or left depending on the throw being trained). After they roll the grounder, they follow the ball to that base.
- The player receiving the ground ball performs one of the six throwing skills (see the previous page) depending on the distance of the bases and the direction the ball (left or right) is circling the square. The throw goes to the player on the base next in the rotation. Then, the thrower follows the ball to that base.
- The next player catches the ball and rolls a ground ball to the next base and follows.
- Players alternate ground balls and throws, always following the ball to the next base, so every player rolls a ground ball or throws every other time.
- If there is an error in fielding or throwing, the player at the base chases the ball and returns to the base they were at before rolling or throwing. Play continues during this time, with the other team catching up or taking the lead.
- The first team to move the ball around the square five times is the winner.
- If there are only enough players for one team, use a stopwatch to record the time to complete five circuits around the square. Then, try to beat the team record for the quickest time.
- There is no rearward then forward throwing motion on tosses. Instead, the tossing hand goes from the glove directly toward the target. Players soon learn that this makes the circuit quicker, thereby developing the habit of a quick release on all tosses.
- To avoid a high and looping toss, the throwing arm should move parallel to the ground on backhand tosses.
- On drop knee pivots (images below), the player fields the ball and pivots on both feet. The rear knee drops toward the ground to help stay low. Raising the torso upward takes time! There is no step toward the base as this is not needed to make a short throw. Keep the throwing motion very short; sidearm is OK. Compact movements increase quickness.
- Rock-n-fire throws (image below) are similar to pivot throws in that neither uses a step toward the target. However, since rock-n-fires are a little longer in distance, the fielder shifts weight to the rear leg to gain momentum into the throw.
- For the Pop Feet throw, the fielder jumps quickly with both feet simultaneously, staying low, to turn toward the target. This quick exchange of foot position is faster than doing a pivot turn on one foot then stepping toward the target. After the jump turn, the fielder then makes a rock-n-fire throw to the base.
Building Rome Series Books: Building the High-Level Swing
Click on Building the High-Level Swing Series to learn more about our new books series containing a detailed and comprehensive description of 100 hitting fundamentals and 140 step-by-step drills that efficiently construct the batting swing from the ground up.
In the Building Rome Series of books, the construction of skills are in functional order, providing a “roadmap” to becoming a great hitter.
All baseball and fastpitch softball players can “climb the Roman Coliseum steps” to become a powerful and productive hitter.
Enjoy the quest!