Baseball Fielding Tips - How To Field Grounders From A to Z!
Good baseball fielding or inefficient baseball fielding quite often determines the outcome of a baseball game.
Here is an alphabetized list of some baseball fielding tips for ground balls:
Arm extension. 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 the arms and hands were not out in front of the body.
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 ease the ball 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 fielding 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 ball 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 and a little effort to learn the proper technique.
Bounces can be very tricky. All the good infielders read the ball 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 baseball 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 wet sponge and not like a piece of wood.
Getting in front of the ball. Always try to get in front of the ball. The real good infielders get in front of almost everything. The error prone infielders do not and stab at too many balls.
Glove down. 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.
Hands. Like we mentioned, the hands should always be out in front. If the ball takes a bad hop and your hands are close to your body, you have very little chance to adjust. And remember, you are catching an egg and not a baseball. Keep your hands soft.
Knees bent and pointing outward. The baseball expression is the arms and knees out and the waist straight.
Playing from the ground up. Playing from the ground up 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 fraction of a second and the good infielders realize this and practice the pop up drill often.
Slow roller. 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 will avoid a lot of confusion. 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 decided in that manner! You should make every attempt to approach the ball 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 your 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. The expression is elbow low, ball high.
Your face when fielding a grounder. When fielding a grounder, one of the better baseball fielding tips is that 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.
In closing, if I could only give three baseball fielding tips for grounders they would be:
1) NEVER get beat under your glove!
2) "Play the ball and don't let the ball play you." Read the ball as quickly as possible off the bat and try to get the friendly hop.
3) You are catching an egg and not a baseball! Think of your glove hand as a wet sponge and NOT a firm piece of wood!