Bozeman High School (FL) is an emerging power under head coach Jared Smith and the biggest factor in their revival is defense.
In Smith’s eight years at the helm, Bozeman has sent eight players to college on softball scholarships at the JUCO and NCAA Division III levels.
This year, Bozeman advanced to the regional playoffs for the first time in program history, falling to eventual Final Four participant Chipley. Bozeman also set the program record for wins (15) and runs (188) in a season this year.
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Smith credits Bozeman’s workmanlike approach defensively for their success.
“I love teaching and working a defense. There are so many moving parts and everyone has a job to do. It's a beautiful thing when, as a coach, I can stand back and watch it all come together,” Smith said. “Once I get everyone comfortable and confident we can really start playing aggressively and can take parts of a team's offense away from them.”
Smith shared one of the defensive drills that Bozeman utilizes.
“We do a lot of fast paced repetitions. I break them up into straight up, glove side, and back hand drills. We start just rolling balls to the girls by hand. The pace is very quick with the focus being on good technique and quick hands. Once we go through our progression this way we move to hitting fungo through the same process. I really try to push the pace and have multiple balls in play at a time. This forces the players to focus and communicate. Playing tight defense is all about rhythm and pace and I try to foster this every time we work our defense.”
Origins of the drill/duration
“We started in full force at the beginning of this year. Once I was able to teach them the pace I wanted to see we got to where we could complete the whole drill in 15-20 minutes and everyone is soaked in sweat.”
“All infielders, except first basemen, lineup at SS.”
“I start by rolling the ball straight at the fielder.”
“The fielder brings the ball into their belly with soft, quick hands like they are catching an egg.”
“Then I am looking for a quick release and accurate throw to first base.”
“As soon as one person starts their throw I start rolling the ball to the next fielder. After each throw the player returns to the end of the line.”
“This works best when using multiple first basemen. Go through the line twice for each glove orientation (straight up, glove side, back hand). Once this is completed players will move to their actual positions, but this time you will hit fungo for each glove orientation. Fielders will get two balls at a time, using the same technique as earlier and making quick, accurate throws.”
Game situation benefits:
“Each player sees lots of reps at a fast pace, high intensity setting. It is an effort to replicate the pressure of game time so no situation gets too big for us. It is constant motion and max effort sustained for an extended period of time. Actual game play has frequent breaks and stoppages so once the games start their minds and bodies are used to heavier workloads.”
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