Baseball Fielding Tips: How To Field Grounders From A to Z
If you are a player, a coach or a baseball parent and your child is struggling fielding grounders, here is a very useful alphabetized list. All the very important things you must do and some things, two in in particular, that you should never do. Here is an alphabetized list of baseball fielding tips for grounders, covering all bases, no pun intended.
You should extend your arms almost straight out and field the ball in front of your body. You should never field grounders near your body or underneath your body. In at least 90% of the cases where a grounder goes through an infielder’s legs, it’s because their arms and hands were too close to their body and not out in front.
Back-Handing The Ball
Try to keep your glove hand relaxed and don’t stab at the ball unless you have to. You want to really focus on “soft hands” and try to ease the baseball into your glove.
Backside Should Be Down
Your rear end should be down and kept down, almost like you’re sitting in a chair. By doing this, there is less of a chance for the ball to go under you and your eye level will be much better to read the ball very well.
Ball Stops Rolling
The easiest way to pick a ball up if it has stopped is to push it into the ground. Scooping it up takes more time and increases the chance for a miscue. By pressing down, in essence you are pushing the ball into your hand, which is exactly what you want.
Bare-Handed Play When The Ball Is Rolling Very Slowly
Many players make the common mistake of trying to scoop it up with a couple of their fingers so their fingers are in position to throw the ball. The proper way is to cup the hand and field the baseball with all of your fingers. Now comes the tricky part. You only have a very small amount of time to go from cupping the ball and getting it into your four seam throwing grip. It takes a little practice to perfect this fundamental but it is worth the time spent.
Bounces Can Be Very Tricky
All the good infielders read the baseball off the bat immediately and THEY often determine the bounce they will get and the batted ball does not determine the bounce they will get. The expression is “you play the ball and don’t let the ball play you.” It’s important to sometimes charge in and get the friendly hop. Try to avoid the hop where the ball bounces about three feet in front of you. There is a huge difference between the friendly and the unfriendly bounce.
Egg And Not A Baseball
If possible, catch every ground ball like you are catching an egg and don’t want the egg to break. Watch the soft hands of all of the outstanding infielders and how they ease the ball into their glove. Think of your glove hand as a soft sponge and not a stiff piece of wood.
Get In Front Of The Ball
Always try to get in front of the baseball. The real good infielders get in front of almost everything. The error prone infielder does not do this, stabs at too many balls and is also not able to cope with an untrue bounce.
One of the best baseball fielding tips when attempting to field grounders is never get beat under your glove! We play from the ground up. Get the glove out in front of your body and on the ground early. You will notice that almost every time a grounder goes through an infielder’s legs, it’s because their glove was not low enough, was too close to their feet and not out in front of their body. If you get beat under your glove, I’m sorry you and I will no longer be on speaking terms!
Hands When Fielding Grounders
Like we mentioned, the hands should always be out front. If the ball takes a bad hop and your hands are close to the body, you have very little chance to adjust. And remember, you are catching an egg and not a baseball. Like I already mentioned, keep your hands soft, like a dampened sponge and not a stiff piece of wood.
Knees Bent And Pointing Outward
The baseball expression is “the arms and knees out and the waist straight.” It will make it much easier if case you have to move to the left or right at the last split second.
Play From The Ground Up
This simply means keep the glove down and only bring the glove up when and if needed. It’s so much more difficult to have your glove high and have to go downward to get the ball and you’ll have more of a tendency to stab at the ball and miss it.
Pop Up Drill Should Be Practiced
After fielding the grounder, “pop up” as quickly as possible, with the front shoulder facing your target. The real good infielders practice the pop up drill to save valuable fractions of a second. That’s one of the reasons they are real good infielders. Quite often on ground balls, the out or safe call is determined by a small margin and the good infielders realize this and practice the “pop up” drill often. It’s a one of the best baseball fielding tips and it should be practiced very often.
Call for a slow roller just like you would call for a ball that is popped up. You don’t just call for pop ups but call for grounders as well. It’s very frustrating when you see two fielders stop dead in their tracks because each thought the other was going to field the slow roller. What a shame for a game to be lost in a manner like that. Ouch! You should make every attempt to approach it so that the ball is just outside your plant foot. This enables you to have your feet set and in the proper throwing position beforehand. Sometimes it is possible to do this and sometimes it is not. Remember, a fraction of a second is an eternity in baseball.
Throwing The Ball
Bring your elbow up to throwing height, which is usually about the height of the shoulder. Throw the ball and follow through. Almost every errant throw that sails high when thrown by an infielder is because he did not raise his elbow high enough! I’ve witnessed this hundreds of times over the years. Hundreds. I even saw it six times once when a first baseman was warming up his infielders inbetween innings!
Your Face When Fielding A Grounder
When fielding a grounder, no one should see your face and if they do, something is wrong. They should only see the top of your cap as your face is looking down at the ground and the baseball.
If I could only teach two things to a baseball player about fielding grounders, they would be:
1) You are catching an egg and not a baseball. Keep your hands soft!
2) Never get beat under your glove. We play from the “ground up.” It is so much easier to have to raise your glove than to have to lower it at the last second. If you get beat under your glove, you and I will no longer be on speaking terms!
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