How to Field Like a Pro

By Doug Bernier

Everyone loves offense, but pitching and defense win games.  These pro tips for how to field a baseball will help you win games.

Tip #1: The Secret is to Use Your Feet

Many smooth fielders look like they have soft hands, but it is actually their feet that allow their hands to work so freely. In other words, FOOTWORK COUNTS! The better your footwork, the easier your glove work becomes and the smoother it looks. Once you stop your feet, your risk of letting the baseball dictate what is going to happen skyrockets. When your feet shut down, your hands follow, and your body tends to get stiff. So keeping your feet moving is a huge key. This is something I will explain in more detail in the following articles on fielding.

Tip #2: Position your Glove for Maximum Benefit

Another MUST for fielding ground balls is to take your glove hand and push the heel of your wrist toward the baseball (see pictures below). Ideally you want it more perpendicular than parallel to the ground. This allows you to use all of your glove. It will also prevent balls that take a little hop from rolling up your arm. This is something many infielders don’t get taught but helps a lot when the baseball takes a late tricky hops. To illustrate, this glove position (below) is NOT ideal, because doesn’t make full use of the glove’s surface area:

how to field a baseball - wrong way view 1

Wrong

How to field a baseball - This is what NOT to do, view 2

Wrong

 

 

 

 

 

 

This position (below) is much better because it lets you use the entire surface area of the glove, and it doesn’t allow balls that take late hops roll up your arm.  You’d be surprised how many fielders overlook this important detail.

How to field a ground ball in baseball - correct, view 1

Correct

Proper mechanics of how to field a baseball - correct, view 2

Correct

 

 

A good drill that incorporates proper glove position and moving your feet.  Start with your arm and glove exactly how you want to field the baseball.  Now when a ground ball is hit, move your feet ONLY and don’t move your hand or glove.  Use your feet to get the baseball.  Pre set your glove and field with your feet.  If you can get good at this drill you will make fielding a lot easier.

While we’re at it, here are a few more defensive tips for how to field a baseball.  Each of these tips will be talked about in more detail, in some of the following defensive articles.

  • Keep it natural

    When fielding a ground ball, do not make your glovehand cross your body. It is NOT ideal to catch the baseball in the center of your body or to your right side, but rather more to the side of your glove hand.  In other words, the ball, your glove, and your left pectoral should be in a straight line. This allows your glove to work more freely in front of you, since it doesn’t have to slide across your body. When the left hand is trying to work on the right side of the body, people tend to get tense. This is when mistakes happen.

  • Keep your hands extended

    This is for two reasons: (a) the ball and glove are always in your line of vision (!!!!); and (b) on a bad hop, you still have room to bring your glove into your body to make the play.

  • Relax your glove hand

    Relax your glove hand while fielding a ball. All of your reflexes are quicker when you are relaxed. Also, the ball seems to stick in your glove easier without tensing up and fighting it.

  • Start low

    With a short hop from a throw or a hard hit ball, start with your glove on the ground and work up to field this ball. These are very difficult plays, but it is easier and quicker to move up than down.

  • Attack

    Attack with your glove but most importantly with your mentality.  It is necessary to have an aggressive (but under control) attitude when approaching a ground ball.  A quality infielder dictates how he is going to field the ground ball.  A below average infielder lets the ball dictate how he is going to field the ball.

  • Stay balanced

    When the ball is secure in your glove, bring it to your chest. Keeping the ball in the middle of your body helps keep you balanced and in a strong position to throw.

  • Left arm as your guide

    After your glove is at your chest, get your shoulders turned to the base you are throwing to. Use your left shoulder and elbow, as your guide, keeping them in line with the base you are throwing to.

  • A Four Seam Grip is a must for an infielder

    Every time you throw a baseball, get a four-seam grip on the ball. This means your index and middle finger are across the horseshoe. No matter where on the ball your fingers are, you are never more than a quarter-turn of the ball away from getting that ideal 4-seam grip. This may seem difficult, but all infielders do this. This grip keeps the ball flying straight and with the proper backspin, and will help your throws to be more accurate. If you only get a two-seam, one-seam, or no seam grip, the ball will most likely sink, run, or dive. So work on getting a four-seam grip every time. (Click here to get these tips in a printable cheatsheet.)

    Doug Bernier, founder of Pro Baseball Insider.com, debuted in the Major Leagues in 2008 with the Colorado Rockies, and has played professional baseball for 5 organizations (CO Rockies, NY Yankees, Pirates, MN Twins, & TX Rangers) over the past 16 years. He has Major League time at every infield position, and has played every position on the field professionally except for catcher. Where is he now? After batting .200 in 45 at-bats and fielding .950 during 2017 spring training with the Rangers, Doug was assigned to the Ranger’s AAA team the Round Rock Express

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Decision Declaration

By Craig Sigl

I’ve worked with countless youth, college, and pro baseball players over the years and I am shocked at how few of them have taken advantage of a very simple, yet powerful mental tool to get their play to the next level.

Usually, they come to see me because they have problems…they are in a slump, or have the throwing yips, or just not playing to the talent and skills they know they have.
I often start out by asking them about the decisions they have made about their game. They usually answer something about deciding to play for this team or that team, or maybe deciding that they want to play a certain position.

Rarely do players make a powerful decision to achieve a goal they have in mind and that can be the real problem! Here’s what I mean:
You can have a goal, like playing at the next level of competition, and you “want” to achieve that goal…
But, DECIDING that you will achieve that goal is twice as powerful.
Let me explain…

Imagine 2 people on one side of a canyon with a rickety footbridge as the only way to get to the other side. Both of them “want” to get to the other side. The bridge looks risky and dangerous, but passable. They both pause and look at each other and then the first person makes a DECISION to cross. Who is more likely to get to the other side?

Pretty obvious, right? Now, let’s magnify this power.

The second person, 10 seconds later, makes a DECISION to cross and then tells the first person: “I’m going.”

Now who’s most likely to be the first one to the other side?

That’s the power of a DECLARATION!

You want to start making solid decisions and then declare them to yourself, and even better, to people who support you.

Goal setting is great and I encourage it. The way to increase your chances of actually making your goals reality is by coming to a solid decision and declaration that you are going to achieve them. You want to do this on goals that are do-able, but tough and something longer than a month or two out.

Here’s a couple examples of what this might be like:
“My goal is to start on Junior Varsity this year”
“My batting average is .350 or better by the end of this season.”
“I’ve decided my goal is to play soccer on a D1 college team.”

Without making a decision, you are operating at only half speed. You also leave yourself wide open to a destructive force called “procrastination.” This is where you keep putting things off or make up reasons why something else is more important to do now instead of your training or workouts.  Once you make a decision, your mental wheels will start turning and you will come up with a plan of attack. Your body will get antsy to take action. You will naturally want to do things like go down to the cages and work on your swing…or take some grounders at the field.  Your DECISION is like a match lighting a fire. A DECLARATION is like pouring gas on the fire.

A declaration has double benefits. When you do this, you trigger inside of you a strong internal program we all have to follow through on what we say we will do. And secondly, you will be amazed at how people around you support you in your goal because they now know how serious you are.

Check this out… when you do this…life actually gets easier …because you now have Direction and you don’t have to force yourself to practice or train any more. It all happens naturally! You become a powerhouse of action and that actually feels really good to do things on purpose like that on a daily basis.

You have it in you to do this.

So go ahead and make sure you DECIDE on something you want to achieve in sports this year. Write it down on a piece of paper. I like using 3×5 cards for this and I put them everywhere. Whenever you read it, stop for a moment and put some thought energy and emotion into it. This makes it solid in your nervous system and creates all sorts of amazing changes for players of all ages.

Even kids as young as 8 years old can take advantage of this.

Watch yourself over the next week and see how things start changing and lining up to help you reach your goals. Acknowledge the positive changes and you will keep getting more – I promise!

Craig Sigl’s work with youth athletes has been featured on NBC TV and ESPN. Get his free ebook: “The 10 Commandments For a Great Sports Parent” and also a free training and .mp3 guided visualization to help young athletes perform under pressure by visiting:
http://MentalToughnessTrainer.com

Quote from Malcolm Forbes

American entrepreneur most prominently known as the publisher of Forbes magazine he said, “To measure a man, measure his heart.” Let’s make the most of this day by showing our heart!

Iowa Hawkeyes fantastic tradition

We didn’t know about this tradition at the Iowa Hawkeyes Kinnick Stadium but now that we do, we’re Hawkeyes fans. Go Iowa. Courtesy ESPN.com.

Get caught up in college football

If you missed this weekend’s highlights, here you go, courtesy of NCAA.

What’s the earliest baseball or softball registration?

We’re looking for the youth baseball or softball league that opens their Spring 2018 registration the earliest. For most in the country this seems like a long ways away, but there are leagues in Southern California, Florida and other warm-climate states that are already meeting and planning for ’18. When does your spring registration begin? Email us at customerservice@coachdeck.com and let us know!

Quote form the Bambino

Today’s quote comes from Babe Ruth: “Every strike got me that much closer to a home run.” Take those wise words with you today as you encounter setbacks and challenges!