Slow Roller Ladder Drill for Infielder
By Eric Tyler
One big issue I have noticed with young infielders during my lessons at Baseball Rebellion is the inability to field a slow roller while still remaining athletic. They tend to stop their feet in order to catch the ball, or struggle to bend low enough to field cleanly. The Slow Roller Ladder is a drill designed to teach your infielders to play low and drive their feet through a softly hit ground ball. A slow roller is a ball in which the pace of the ball is slower than normal, resulting in a need for the fielder to both field and throw the ball at a much quicker pace than a regular groundball. By understanding how to play low and continue to move their feet through fielding the ball, you allow them to make the play at a much quicker rate than normal.
The set-up is very simple, all you need is:
- ~15 yards of space
- 3 baseballs
This drill includes a three-part progression to help develop more athletic and versatile infielders.
Here is a breakdown of what each part of the progression should look like and how they are set up:
Part 1: The Run Through
The first part of the progression has the fielder run through the ladder with no glove and no goal of securing each baseball. The goal of this first part is to be comfortable bending at the hips and running through each spot of the ladder while getting low enough to secure the ball if needed. It is important to begin this drill allowing your infielders to feel how low they must play, without the worry of missing the ball. Once it is determined that your fielder is comfortable with the footwork and how their body must move to successfully field each ball, they are ready for part 2.
Part 2: Barehand
Now that the fielder understands how their body must move to make their way through the ladder, the focus now shifts to securing the ball. The infielder will go through part 2 without a glove to make sure they focus on catching the ball while still playing low and driving through each spot on the ladder using their legs. Without the extra room the glove provides to secure the ball, the player is forced to play even lower and continue to get more comfortable with their footwork through the drill.
Part 3: Game-Like Reps
In the final part of the progression, we now add a glove to the equation and begin making each rep more game like. The player is expected to now play low and drive through each spot on the ladder while securing the ball. The focus for the fielder should now be to be at full speed going through the drill and making it as game-like as possible.
It is important to remember that while each part of the progression has a different focus and goal, the player(s) must build on each other as the drill progresses. For example, once part 1 is completed, it is expected that the fielder completes part 2 & part 3 using proper footwork and playing low through each ball. This part of the drill cannot be overlooked in order to secure the baseball or play at game-like speed. Allow the player to learn at their speed and master the movements that allow them to play freely and athletically.
Questions about the Drill?
Reach out to Eric: firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow Eric on Twitter: @_erictyler
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