10 Baseball Fielding Tips Guaranteed to Help
By Jack Perconte
Baseball players usually love to hit and getting kids to practice their hitting is usually not difficult. Getting ballplayers of any age to want to work on their fielding skills is often a different story. Subsequently, many kids reach the high school team and get cut from the team. They are perplexed when they do not make the high school team because they have always been good hitters, with many of them being top notch travel team ballplayers. The reason for their failure to make the cut is that they are one dimensional ballplayer who can only hit. At some point in their young careers they failed to recognize the importance of fielding, neglected that aspect of the game and fell behind to the point where their importance to a team was limited.
As baseball followers know, there can only be one designated hitter in a lineup and coaches need to have nine defensive position players. Because of this fact, coaches look for kids in a tryout who are multi-dimensional, meaning they can hit, run, throw and field. With this in mind, parents and coaches should stress the importance of being proficient in every aspect of the game so they are not left out in the cold come tryout time. Following are some tips for parents and coaches to help players work on their fielding skills with the understanding that the earlier (age) they teach these the better:
1. Use a softer ball - this allows the coach to challenge players with more speed and game like balls.
2. Repeat, use a softer ball - this gives players the assurance that they will not get hurt when hit by the ball and will promote good fielding mechanics of getting in front of ground balls and under fly balls for the above mentioned reason.
3. Like everything in sports, development of skills is dependent on correct fundamentals. With fielding this involves good footwork. Practicing the correct footwork from approaching the ball all the way through the throw is necessary, with consistency of action the key to success.
4. Begin fielding practice with hitting or throwing slow ground balls so fielders. This will promote aggressive fielders by having to charge the ball.
5. Teach kids to catch balls correctly - glove hand only (one handed) for balls they reach for and two hands for balls within their body.
6. Avoid practicing ground balls on a smooth surface (indoors) whenever possible. Players can get away with incorrect fundamentals on a smooth surface because hops are always true and predictable. If a smooth surface is only option, roll many balls very low to ground to promote keeping glove and body low for good fielding mechanics.
7. During team batting practice, position non-hitting players and have them play balls off bat as if in a game. This is especially helpful for outfield practice to get the real feel for judging fly balls.
8. Teach players to get into the correct "ready" position according to the position they are playing.
9. Try to devote at least half of practice time on fielding drills and game like situation practice. Knowing what to do in a game (i.e. where to throw ball, what base to cover) on defense is very important.
10. Remind kids of the importance of throwing, both arm strength and accuracy, to fielding success. A play is usually only half over with a catch, completing a play with a good throw is necessary.
Former major league baseball player, Jack Perconte gives baseball hitting tips and batting practice advice for ballplayers of all ages. His baseball hitting lessons advice can be found at http://www.baseballhittinglessons.com/baseball Jack is the author of two books, The Making of a Hitter and Raising an Athlete - his parenting blog can be found at http://positiveparentinginsports.com
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