As position players, infielders need deft glove skills and an arm action that allows them to make even the most unbelievable plays seem routine. Those acquired movements however could very well be nullified without the proper positioning and tactics to intertwine the situation with the developed skills.
Thus, infielders need to consider how to position themselves. How to prepare their bodies to acquire a thrown or batted ball. And they need to determine the most effective decisions to make during the play to help their team while the play is being made.
Dirtbags Baseball has asked 3 questions to 3 very capable coaches who have successfully provided such sound defensive instruction to infielders. Pay attention to the details of their responses and find that in the uniqueness of their explanations each has a way to connect with a player seeking to enhance their abilities to up their defensive game.
This weeks coaches are:
- Tyler Drew … 15u
- Brendan Dougherty … 17u / Director of Dirtbags Baseball in South Carolina
- Hunter Ridge … 15u
How should infielders position themselves to the base when making a tag play?
TYLER DREW – There are a lot of thoughts on where to position yourself around the bag when making a tag. My preference is to position yourself in front of the bag. This allows you to adjust easily to bad throws and still make a tag. Be sure to catch the ball deep when making a tag. Don’t reach for the ball and bring it back to the bag.
BRENDAN DOUGHERTY – Many infielders are taught to either straddle the bag or be on the front part of the bag. For me the best and easiest position for any infielder to receive throws is to get their left knee over the bag. The tip of your left shoe should be up against the bag and your left knee should be directly over the bag. This allows freedom to adjust to throws and also it allows freedom to adjust to the baserunner and also the shortest distance to apply the tag. Left knee over the bag for all infielders. it is slightly more difficult for the 2B and 3B because they have to get across the bag so the footwork has to be worked on constantly.
HUNTER RIDGE – Never straddle the bag. When you straddle the bag it limits your rage for the throw. You always want to be receiving the throw in front of the bag.
What are some hot tips for middle infielders on the double play feed or pivot?
TYLER DREW – For the feed, the flip to me is the quickest and most accurate. It’s not the sexiest thing but it’s the most sure thing. Also find the position on the field where you cannot flip and you have to throw for the feed. This spot can be different for every player, if you know where this spot is you won’t get caught in between deciding on a flip or a throw.
BRENDAN DOUGHERTY – Feet should always be moving at or near the bag. Athletic position to receive throw. Always react to what the ball is doing do not anticipate the throw is coming to hit you in the chest. The only time we use two hands is if the ball is at our chest. If it is outside our shoulders or above or below our shoulders then we should always use 1 hand.
HUNTER RIDGE – The #1 rule in double plays is always make sure the first out! Your feed should always give the other person a chance to turn two. Make sure your never caught being flat footed on feeds or pivots.
What are some do’s and don’ts for corner infielders on cuts & relays to the plate?
TYLER DREW – Do your footwork and align your body before you catch the ball. Always turn glove side when cutting a ball. If it is a short relay, less than 90 feet, don’t shuffle your feet to throw the ball. This is extra time and extra steps for the runner. As the ball is coming in, step to the ball, plant your back leg, and throw. Once you get to the high school level you should not have to shuffle your feet to throw the ball less than 90 feet.
BRENDAN DOUGHERTY – When a corner infielder is in the cut position he should always line himself up. The catcher should never have to line them up. They should always be aware of where they are. In a high level baseball game I have never seen a play unless it is a double cut where the 1B or 3B has had a cut 4 and gotten the guy out. As a corner infielder if you are going to cut the ball you should always redirect it to another base besides home. Look to steal an out because if you cut it the majority of the time that runner will be safe at home.
HUNTER RIDGE – Always peek to see where you are lined up to throw the ball. Yes, listen to your partner but still peek to see. When receiving the ball as the cut always have your feet moving and never be caught flat footed. Make sure you are giving a target to the thrower as well. Also make sure your feet are in line with where you are wanting to throw the ball.
Wow. Those responses were great for anyone looking to find a tip or hint on connecting the skills of infield play to some game situations. As always, check back on our instructional series next week as the questions will delve into the topic of pitching.