Chichester Falcons win ESF video contest for best drill

Wed 15 Mar 2017

The Chichester Falcons Softball Club has won a contest run through the European Softball Federation’s Facebook page for the best 30-second video of a softball drill.

The contest ran during the 2016 season, but the winner was announced at the ESF Congress in February this year.  According to ESF Communications Director Helena Novotna, the Falcons’ video received marks of 9 or 10 from most of the evaluators from the European Softball Coaches’ Association.


Throwing drill​

The winning drill is a five-sided throwing drill with an extra twist – a runner who jogs around the bases while the drill is in progress but – when the coach blows a whistle – has to try to reach the next base before the fielders can get the ball there to execute a force play.

With more advanced players, the fielders can be asked to execute a tag play when the whistle blows, or a run-down, or an extra runner can be added and the fielders have to make choices.

The Falcons called their drill ‘The Five Point Blowout Throw-out’, and you can see it here.  


Challenge

The Falcons decided to enter the contest when the team’s coach, David Morris, saw a post on the ESF Facebook page explaining it. 

“We make up a lot of our own drills,” David said, “though some are better than others, and it seemed like a good fun idea for a contest.  This particular drill stood out as being suitable for the contest because it can be run with 6 or 36 players, adults or juniors, and it lets them practice throwing, catching, running, sliding, tagging and run-downs all in one drill.  It’s also a good workout for the runners and is a lot of fun for everybody.

“The contest had a 30-second time limit for videos,” David continued, “which was a real challenge.  So we decided to shoot a LOT of footage and just keep the very best bits.  I wrote out all the different shots I wanted to show (including the opening introduction), with camera positions, player positions, ball movement etc.  A gang of us met at the ballpark, practiced the drill for 10 minutes and started shooting.  We quickly found out that we’re a lot better at softball when nobody is filming us!  So there is a very, very long blooper reel!

“The drill makes the fielders work hard with their throwing and catching,” David added, “and they must be able to react quickly and accurately on cue.  We found at first that when the whistle blew, the fielders would tend to panic, but in time they were able to focus and confidently make throws without snatching.”

The players taking part in the drill, as seen from left to right in the opening introduction shot in the video, were Lucy Morris, David Morris, Stefan Panayotopoulos, Amy Morris, Ben Sawkins, Sam McGann, Clive Janes, James Mortimore, Ally Warr, Vicki Cathie and Louise Rowe, with David Piesse behind the camera.


Details

Here are instructions for the drill in detail so that other teams can try it:

1. Set fielders up at first base, second base, third base, shortstop and catcher.  Put the players in fielding positions, not right on the bases.  If there are extra players, just distribute them around the positions so they can take turns and back each other up.

2. Have the fielders throw the ball in a diamond shape: catcher to shortstop, to first base, to third base, to second base, to catcher, over and over again.

3. Give a runner a helmet and have him or her jog the bases in the normal running direction while the fielders are throwing.

4. At any point the coach can blow the whistle.  On this signal, the runner much reach the next base they are heading to, and the fielders have to get a force out on the runner at that base.  Once that has happened, the runner can carry on jogging until the next whistle.

Progressions:

  • When the whistle blows, the fielders have to tag the runner; it’s no longer a force out.
     
  • The coach can set up a run-down situation by blowing the whistle when the ball is very close to the runner.
     
  • Use two runners and keep them opposite each other on the diamond; the fielders can go for either or both runners.

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