There are many games your team can play during the season, as a change of pace, as a reward for hard work or just to have fun. Of all the games, one of the best is Fungo Forceback which combines baseball skills, conditioning and just plain competitiveness. It is similar to field hockey, or lacrosse, but with a baseball orientation. The game is played as the offense hits the ball, fungo style, toward the other teams goal, forcing the other team back towards its goal. Hence the name, Fungo Forceback. The object of the game is to score a point by hitting the ball, fungo style, through, or over, the other teams goal.
The game is best played on a soccer or football field. A large area is a necessity. If soccer goals or football goal posts are in place they can be used. If not you will have to set up goals at each end of the field. The goals should be about 20-30 feet wide, on the center of the line at each end of the field. You can mark the goals with buckets, gloves, ball bags, etc. Whatever you have will work as long as the players know the location of the goal.
Divide the team into two groups. Each group has one bat to share among its members who will bat in an order which they decide before the game. All players use their glove and one ball is used in the game.
Each group takes one end of the field and defends that goal. Flip a coin to determine which group begins on offense. The offense starts with the ball twenty feet in front of their goal. The first player in the batting order hits a fungo toward the other groups goal. If the ball is caught or fielded cleanly by the defense that group then gets the ball where it was fielded and their next batter in order fungos the ball back toward the other groups goal. If the ball is a pop up, and caught, the defense may advance the ball three running steps toward the other groups goal before they fungo. If the ball is dropped or not fielded cleanly, the offense moves up the field and the next person in the batting order fungos the ball from where it was mishandled. If the offense has the ball closer than thirty feet from the opponents goal they must move back to thirty feet away from the goal before they hit the ball.
If the ball goes over, or through, the goal, either directly on a hit or after being mishandled by the defense, a goal is scored. If the ball is fielded cleanly in front of the goal the defense hits the ball from that spot. If the ball is hit out of bounds without being touched, the other team hits the ball from where it went out of bounds. If the ball is touched by the defense and then goes out of bounds, the offense hits the ball from where it was first touched.
Strategically, there are several factors players will learn if they play the game a couple of times. First and foremost, it is critical that players sprint to where they will hit the ball for if they can hit the ball before the other team drops back on defense the ball may go over the head of the defense and roll through the goal. Second, it is critical on defense to stay alert and insure that you make a good play fielding the ball. Errors allow the other team to move closer to your goal. Hitting, fungo style, is not a simple task, and learning how to properly fungo the ball gives a player a big advantage in forcing the other team back.
This can be a very competitive and exciting game for your team. Playing infielders/pitchers against outfielders/catchers or younger against older players can set up interesting matches. The skills required to be successful in Fungo Forceback are the same as needed to be successful in games: hitting, fielding, running and competitiveness. For that reason the game is an excellent use of time for your team.
Reprinted with permission from A Youth Baseball Coaches Tool Kit