ABCA Clinic Recaps - Jayson King


Liam Carroll

Infield Play – From the Ground Up
Jayson King – Head Coach, Franklin Pierce (NH) University

Clinic Topics

1. Basics
2. Mechanics of a good Infielder
3. Positions
4. Routines
5. Our Routine
6. Competition Time
7. Infield Development
8. Discussion Topics
9. Other Drills
10. Corner Drills
11. Middle Pivot & Feeds

Coach King gave an exceptionally detailed presentation about the way he coaches Infield play.  He covered a range of topics and it was evident from his passion, knowledge and the outline document that he could have spoken for much, much longer.  For each of the topics above, Coach King listed multiple sub areas – I couldn’t do justice to him by writing about all, nor do I have time, so I’m going to pick two.  An important note that Coach King hammered home is that playing the Infield isn’t just about fielding ground balls and practice should reflect that.

In “Competition Time” Coach King showed video of several drills that are easily repeatable and will give your players more chance to compete. 
• Both without (“Quick Toss”) and with (“Step and Throw”) footwork, his players have races.  You can do this drill either against the clock or up to a target number of throws or catches. 
• Similar to the common drill “27 Outs” Infielders attempt to complete 10-15 Double Plays consecutively.
• Knockout games at each position, or with all Infielders as SS.
• Double Play pivot times – set a time target for the Infielders to complete the Double Play, either from the crack of the bat or from the pivot guy to 1B.  Coach King’s “very good” time for the pivot was 1.2 seconds. 
Your players need massive numbers of reps to become masters of their craft (or to be just adequate).  Adding a competitive element is a great way to make those reps less mundane and time is a simple and effective and cheap way to do so.  Put your creative hat on and come up with your own drills.  And buy a stopwatch if you don’t have one.

In “Other Drills” Coach King highlighted the extent of skills Infielders must work on, beyond the routine ground ball and in other situations:
• Relay drill
• Dive drill
• Slow roller drill
• Short Double Plays, including “great plays” and flips”
• Block and Scramble
• Long Pickups
• Footwork drill
• Pitchback

If you’re going to expect your players to perform certain skills, you better be practicing them – and once again, with a high volume of reps.  Time is a precious resource everywhere, especially in British baseball, but there are ways for you to include them in your practices – assuming that they’re already on your radar.  Another way of saying that you don’t have time for something is to say that you’ve not chosen to prioritise it.  Your practice planning should include listing and prioritising every skill you want your players to be able to execute – and that can include diving and the behind-the-back Double Play feed!  Even if you don’t choose to practice misplayed balls (“Block and Scramble”) you can still reinforce the mindset by encouraging your players to make a great second effort.  What a difference that could make to the extra bases your team gives up.

College baseball provides coaches with a lot more time with players than British baseball does but that’s no excuse to not have a plan for your players. Maximising their time is going to maximise your time too, because they’ll get better faster.  You might not have the same expertise or time as Coach King so your plan might not include the same detail, but have a plan!  A great way to start is to think of every skill and drill that an Infielder could do, even if your prioritisation boils down to a handful of skills and drills.  You’ll be prepared for the player who asks you for things they can do to get better and for when your club grows and can practice more often.

My Most Important Thing

Way more important than Infield Play, the first thing that Coach King spoke of was to “stay focused on making great memories and relationships with players.”

Last Up: Mike Birkbeck

On Deck: Frank Spaniol


tagged under: baseball, coaching, softball, infield

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About Liam Carroll

Liam Carroll

Liam was a Regional Coach and then Development Coordinator for BaseballSoftballUK until May 2014. He returned to his hometown of London to work for BSUK in 2010 after stops in Somerset, Bristol, Cornwall, California and Nevada. Growing up playing in Britain, Liam made the move to America to study and play university baseball. After figuring out that his future would be brighter as a coach rather than player, he moved to the University of Nevada Las Vegas to finish his degree and coach college baseball. Since then he’s coached youth and adult teams on both sides of the atlantic and with the Great Britain Baseball National Teams.

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