Baseball Magazine

The Long Hop Drill

By Meachrm @BaseballBTYard

Most coaches and infielders have heard of and probably participated in a short hop drill.  In a short hop drill, two or more players stand in fielding position roughly 10-15 feet apart and toss short hops at other players.  It can be done bare-handed or with a glove, with baseballs or bouncy balls, and/or can involve short hops or in-between hops from a short distance.  But have you ever tried long-hop drills?  Most people have not which is a shame since long-hop drills can be very valuable for improving infielders.

As you will see, long-hop drills can be done in a variety of ways but the basic value is the fact that the drills are more game-like and therefore more realistic for players.  Long-hop Drills are basically a short-hop drill with a lot more distance between the participants. 

During the course of a game an infielder might get throws from an outfielder that could start about 150 feet away.  They can also get throws from a catcher who could be roughly 120 feet away or from another infielder about 90 feet away.  Of course, many of those  throws will not be accurate.  The Long-Hop Drill focuses on those throws that are short.

One way to manage this Drill is to incorporate it into pre-practice throwing warm-ups.  When players get loose by moving farther away from their partner, a coach can initiate the drill.  Both players then turn their throws into one-hop throws to their partner.  The goal for each throw is for it to land with 10 feet of the player.  Making the throw land within that range will create both short-hops and in-between hops for their partner – both of which need to be fielded cleanly or at least stopped come game time.  The drill gives them practice at a realistic skill they will be expected to perform.

Below are some variations of this drill:

A square drill that involves more distance between players where the fielders not only have to field the hop cleanly but quickly throw a hop to the next guy around the square.  Direction of the throws around the square can be altered occasionally along with the size of the squares.

Can be incorporated into a long-toss routine where the receiver of the throw moves back so that every throw bounces in front of him.  His job is to field or at least keep the ball in front of him.

This can be a good indoor contest when the weather gets bad.  Players line up on both sides of the gym in two teams.  Each side throws hops to the other team (soft indoor balls recommended).  Any ball that gets past the team and hits the wall behind them is a point for the other team.

However it’s done, the Long-Hop Drill can be a good one to develop a lot of the skills we’d like to see in our players. 

Give it a shot!

Tomorrow’s post: Arm strength vs Arm action

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