Finding success on the softball diamond requires the ability to stop, start and accelerate. Drills that focus on a change of direction will help in creating this athleticism.
Place four cones in a square about 10 feet apart. Start at one corner of the square, then go around the perimeter. Sprint forward to the next cone, shuffle in the direction of the cone to the side, backpedal to the next cone behind you and then shuffle in the opposite direction to the initial cone where you started.
Another drill using this square is the N Drill. While facing the four cones, start at the cone closest to you on the left. You will now move in an “N” direction by sprinting to the cone in front of you to get around it and backpedal to the bottom right cone across the square. Get around that cone and then sprint to the cone in front of you in the upper right corner. Ultimately, you will create a capital “N” shape with your movements.
These drills can be completed with a single player or group. With a group, go through one at a time until everyone has completed the drill, then send the group back in the other direction.
For a more advanced drill with this square setup, add a fifth cone in the middle. Start in the center and number the cones around them from 1 to 4. Have your coach or a teammate randomly call out a number, at which point you will quickly move to that cone, touch it, and return to the center. You should try to always face forward, not turning your body to get to each cone. This will require agility as you shift your direction from cone to cone. It also requires you to process with both your mind and body at the same time.
Vary up the drills so that you work on multiple movements and stay entertained with these activities. Your coach can also turn it into a competition by using a stopwatch to track times. Monitor these times throughout a season to see how you improve and use it as motivation.