Baseball Basics: How to Field

By: Jimmy Cox

A team that has players who can throw and catch fly balls and grounders better than its opponents, and can come up with the clutch fielding play, is going to be hard to beat. The team that has the most agile fielders - those players who have fast reflexes and can change direction in a split second - will also have the better fielders. Thus, if the pitching and batting of the two opposing teams are of equal strength, the better fielding team will then be more formidable.

Good fielders, like good hitters or pitchers, do not require special physical qualifications. However, the player with the sharper reflex action will usually develop into a better fielder in a shorter space of time than a player of normal reflexes. This does not mean that the player of average reflex action cannot become a quality fielder.

The player of normal reflex should not be discouraged because he sees other players who seem superior to him as fielders. Better reflex action can be obtained by constant practice and proper conditioning of the body. By leaping, twisting and lunging for grounders, fly balls and throws, the fielder of normal reflexes will soon sharpen his reflex action and will in time work himself into a better than acceptable fielder.

Fielding in reflex action means the player performs his movements without thinking about them. His movements become natural and graceful and he is able to twist his body in any direction. Ground balls take many unexpected bounces; fly balls get caught in wind currents and may take sudden drops or carry farther than the fielder anticipated. The good fielder can adjust himself to these sudden hops and changes of ball direction.

Choosing a Position. - In choosing a position a player should select one he thinks he can play best; then concentrate on learning all the techniques involved in playing that position. Do not pick a position because your favorite major-leaguer plays it. That's not mature reasoning and you will only hurt your chances of making the team if you can play better at another position.

Try to analyze your strong and weak points and then try out for that position where you can fit in, and also, at the same time, convince the coach that you are the best candidate for that specific fielding spot.

A player who is below average height and who can field any position equally well, should not try out at first base. It's common sense that if you can catch a grounder while stationed at second base, shortstop, third base, just as well as at first base, you should concentrate on trying out for any of the latter three positions. This is because you would not be able to use your limited height to any advantage if you tried out as a first baseman. A first baseman must stretch high for high throws and well into the diamond for low throws. The coach would be more inclined to use a fielder at that position who has more height and reach than a player of limited height.

Infielders' Stance. - There is a basic fielding stance for all infielders.
The infielder has good stance when his body is in a squat position, bent at the waist, knees turned out. His arms and hands are between his knees, enabling him to touch the ground without any undue strain. From this position, he is able to field a ball that hugs the ground, and he is in proper position to straighten up and grab a ball that may take a sudden bounce upward.

With practice and determination, you can become a great infielder.

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