As coaches, we’re always looking for new drills. Drills, drills, drills. But not all drills are created equal. The measure of a great drill is that by doing the drill your players get better for the skills they’ll need to do in games, the way they’ll need to do them in games.
Let’s take throwing and catching. Chances are, you work on these skills every day, and yet your players can’t seem to throw and catch error free when the game is on the line. If that’s the case then playing a game called Thunderball once a week might just be the cure you’ve been looking for.
It’s a pretty simple drill as far as the setup and the equipment needed goes, but keep in mind that simple doesn’t mean easy! To play Thunderball, start by splitting your whole team up into teams of 2. Try to make these smaller teams as equal as possible by splitting up your best players and putting them each on different teams of 2.
Once your team is split up into lots of teams of 2 players each, you’re going to hold a single-elimination tournament. Here’s how it works:
- Give your players 2 minutes to come up with a name for their Team of 2.
- Write every team name on a small piece of paper and put it into a hat or box – something you can draw a name out of without seeing the name ahead of time.
- The first name you draw out will start the game on Defense, while the 2nd name you draw out begins the game on offense.
- Then draw the rest of the names out one-at-a-time to determine the “batting order” that the teams will go in.
Once you’ve determined everyone’s order, here’s how the game goes:
- Team 1 starts on Defense
- Team 2 starts on Offense
- The Defensive Team has their gloves on and one player at 3rd base (D1) the other player at 1st base (D2).
- The Offensive Team has their bats & batting helmets on and a ball on a Batting T at homeplate.
- When the coach says “go!” the first offensive player (O1) hits the ball off the T anywhere, and starts running the bases. The goal is to touch as many bases as possible before BOTH Defensive Players touch the ball.
- Meanwhile, the Defensive players sprint toward the ball because they must both touch the ball in order to stop the runner. Keep in mind that one player will be closer to the ball (D2 in our example) and when she gets to the ball should throw it to her partner, who has run closer to make the throw easier.
To keep score, once BOTH Defensive players touch the ball the runner must stop. The Offense gets +1 for every base they touch. Both O’s hit twice, count their total bases, then switch with the defense. The team with the HIGHEST point total plays the next team; the team with the lower point total is out. Play until all teams have played – team with highest total at end wins!