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The Triangle Drill

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In this post, I will detail the Triangle Drill. I’ll cover why we use this particular drill, and bad habits that the drill will help prevent.  I also include a video so you can see me going through the drill and teaching it.

Pay attention to the different terms I use to describe the proper fundamental movements during the drill. I will use a variation of terms or verbal cues. This is because different players respond better to different verbals. Quite often the verbal cue that one player responds well to will be different from the verbal cue that another player connects with.

Even though I may be using different terms for different players I am always looking for the same results. I have detailed these results in straightforward checklists that I will discuss with each drill.

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The fastest and most effective way to get into the correct fielding position.

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The triangle drill is the best drill to start with for beginners all the way to college players.  This is a very simple drill and anyone, no matter what skill level, can do this drill correctly.

The important thing is that the drill is set up right and that there is a spotter (coach/parent/teammate) present to identify problems and make sure that the infielder is doing the drill correctly and hitting every point on the checklist.

Triangle Baseball Drill Setup Let’s start with the setup of the triangle drill.  You’ll need three balls, an infielder, and a spotter.  The three balls that create the triangle represent our three contact points (the right foot, the left foot, and the glove). You set the balls up in a triangle, with the apex of the triangle slightly toward the left ball to promote left eye alignment (opposite for a lefty).

You want the two other points of the triangle to be wider than shoulder width but not so far that the infielder would be doing the splits.  The apex ball needs to be far enough away from the two other points to make sure the hands will be in front of the bill of the cap (talked about in correct fielding position article).

There are 4 parts to this drill: The fielding position, final approach, the stutter step, and the pre-pitch/decleat movement. These four portions make up the overall progression for correctly fielding a routine ground ball. Players will learn each one of these four portions individually and beginning with the correct fielding position and working backwards from there.

Part 1:

Correct Fielding Position – This is where you want to start the triangle drill.  You have the infielder line up his feet with the two bottom points of the triangle and his glove hand with the apex of the triangle.

Make sure when the fielder reaches out to apex of the triangle with the glove, his hands are in front of his cap, but not so farBaseball Fielding Position that his glove arm is locked out.  The back should be flat (parallel with the floor).  The chest should be almost touching the thighs.  This will help push the hands out in front of the bill of the cap.

The head should be down and the eyes should be on the ball.  If you are the spotter and you are looking at the infielder from the front you should see the button on top of his hat. In the picture to the left, I’m in part 1 of the drill.

Honestly, my feet could be a little wider, but they are further than shoulder width apart and I have pretty short legs, so it’s easier for me to gain the correct depth with my eyes and chest than it will be for players with longer legs.  Those with longer legs will have to have a wider base to gain the correct depth.

Triangle Baseball Drill Side View

Triangle Drill Side View – In the picture above I put in some markers to hopefully help explain some of the checkpoints you want to hit when implementing it. The green line represents the give that you want to have with the glove hand. The red line is the position you DO NOT want the glove arm, it represents what the glove arm would look like if it was locked out. The white line represents the distance we want the glove be in front of the cap. Lastly, I put the blue line in to represent the fact that it’s ok to have the left foot slightly in front of the right.

Also, I should mention, that a lot of time kids will try to grab the apex ball with the glove, because it’s just a natural impulse. Make sure you tell them that this is not necessary.  We just want the glove to be as close to the apex as possible without touching it so we can check our fielding position.  You want the fielder to stay frozen in this fielding position for at least ten to fifteen seconds to go through the checklist from the front and side views.

Helpful Tip:

You want to make sure that you do part one more than once.  You want to do it five or six times having the fielder simply stand up in between reps to reinforce the correct muscle memory.

Part 2:

Final Approach – Right, Left, Fielding Position – This is simply the approach footwork that we will take to get into the fielding position. We want to go right foot, left foot, fielding position because it puts us in the correct rhythm and step pattern to be as efficient as possible with our feet. I further detail correct footwork in Infield Throwing Position.

This is the final approach to the routine ground ball.  To begin have the fielder take one large step back from the fielding position in part 1. After that, you have them take their right step (aligning their right foot with the ball on the right) and left step (aligning their left foot with the ball on the left).  

As the left foot is landing the glove hand should be approaching the apex of the triangle simultaneously (for more information on why see the Left Foot Timing).  Make sure the glove hand is not flipping or swooping towards the apex (if this is a common problem see the Up Out Drill).  These are common mistakes that young infielders make.  

The glove arm should be around 90 degrees, tucked into the body, as the right foot lands.  As the left foot lands the thumb goes from up to out and the fingers of the glove goes directly to the apex ball.  The fingers of the glove should be touching the ground.  Again, have the fielder freeze at fielding position (part 1) to check the points on the checklist.  Have the fielder do this five or six times to make sure he’s gaining muscle memory and understanding the feeling of part two transitioning into part one.

Helpful Tip:

Make sure this drill is done slow! Do NOT let the fielder rush through it.  A key thing to remember when having the fielder do this part of the drill is that the depth should have already been gained if this were a real ground ball.  So before starting part 2 make sure that the chest and eyes are in front of the feet.  The chest and eyes will sink even more as the back gets flat during the transitions from part 2 to part 1.

Part 3:

Stutter Step – This is also very simple.  Again this is done very slow and with purpose, checking each part to make sure every point on the checklist is addressed.  You have the fielder take two or three large steps back from the triangle.  The fielders depth will not be as significant as in part two, but having said that, the eyes and chest should still be over the toes.  You have them take a couple of stutter steps, (some people describe it as tennis feet).

Then, transition into the right, left, (part 2) and finally into fielding position (part 1).  Again, have the fielder pause at fielding position and have them do multiple reps until it smooths out.

Helpful Tip:

The stutter step should be narrow and is done for timing.  The stutter step enables the fielder to catch the correct hop and create the correct timing. One of the things Kevin Kouzmanoff talks about all the time is sneaking up on the baseball, when he says this he is referring to the stutter step. Sometimes this can be a better verbal cue than “tennis feet.”

Part 4:

Pre-Pitch/Decleat – I wrote an entire article on this if you want more detail, but again this is pretty simple.  You have the fielder take four or five steps back.  The fielder will start in the standing upright position.  Some guys like to start the pre-pitch with another right step into the “hop” (not the same as in part two).

Immediately after the right step, the fielder will decleat (small hop with both feet and landing on the toes).  At the end of the decleat, the eyes and the chest should be slightly in front of the toes, but the depth will not be as drastic as in the previous three parts.

After the pre-pitch the fielder will directly transition into the stutter step (part 3), then the final approach (part 2), and finally the fielding position (part 1).  Again I can’t stress enough how this has to be done almost in slow motion until the fielder has a good grasp on the technique.

Helpful Tip:

After are four parts are complete, we can speed it up a little bit, but you never want the fielder rushing through it.  Always have them freeze at the fielding position.

The Purpose of the Triangle Drill is to Get your fielders in the correct position every time.

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CHECKLISTS

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Part 1:

  • Flat Back
  • Hands In Front of Bill
  • Left Eye
  • Arm Give
  • Feet Position
  • Chest Touching Thighs

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Part 2:

  • Depth
  • Chest and Eyes In Front of Feet
  • Always Right, Left, Never Left, Right
  • Thumb Up As Right Foot Hits
  • Hands Directly To Apex Ball As Left Foot Hits
  • Thumb Out as Left Foot Hits

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Part 3:

  • Depth
  • Chest and Eyes In Front of Feet
  • Stutter Step/Tennis Feet
  • Glove Presentation (Thumb up)

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Part 4:

  • Start Upright
  • Right, Left
  • Gain Depth
  • Decleat (On toes or balls of feet)
  • Eyes and Chest in Front of Feet
  • Glove Presentation (Thumb up)

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After the fielder has a good grasp of all of the parts of the Triangle Drill, you can get rid of the triangle and you can introduce a slow moving ball to practice the techniques learned from the drill.  Here’s a video of me doing this after the Triangle Drill is complete.

Go through the checklist below to make sure I am hitting all of the points that need to be addressed to field the routine ground ball correctly.  This is a great spotting exercise and will help you to know what to look for.

Want More Info?

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Topics our newsletter will cover that can help YOU become better at coaching and conveying the correct techniques to young baseball players:

  • Creating an efficient practice plan
  • Giving Signs – Simplicity is key
  • Pre-Game Warm Up
  • Calling Pitches
  • Double Cuts
  • Bunt Plays
  • Player Psychology
  • Player Discipline
  • How to Deal with angry Parents

And many more!

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