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Playing The Infield Ground Ball

February 21, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 135

If asked to visualize an action you'd most closely associate with playing the baseball infield, most people would think of fielding ground balls, just as catching fly balls is associated with an outfielder's responsibility, but teaching the skills are totally different.

Most coaches, when teaching the principles of how to properly field a ground ball, concentrate on the position of the glove, the width the feet should be apart, flexing of the knees and head position, just to name a few of the steps required to become a sure handed fielder.

Of course these are basics which must be mastered before attempting to graduate to advanced concepts, but once these skills have been developed, although not mastered, it's time to talk about a few Tricks of the Trade.

One such trade topic is learning "how to read a ground ball." The learning of instinctive reaction to a ground ball reacting in a certain manner, is what allows players to make those seemingly impossible catch and throw maneuvers. The type of play which separates the professional from the minor league infielder.

Most, but not all ground balls, have one thing in common, they include the baseball bouncing. Let's look at the normal characteristics of two different ground balls and accompanying bounces, the high hop, the short hop and the infamous short in-between hop, and the signs which will dictate how you will attempt to field the ball.

There's an old saying "Never take your eyes off the baseball," and it surely applies to this situation, as the very first thing in reading a ground ball hop, and subsequent travel, is the initial reaction off the bat.

1. High Hops:

The ideal hop an infielder can play is the High Hop as it provides the easiest opportunity to see, field, catch and throw the ball. Therefore, every chance a fielder has to turn the play into a high hop fielding opportunity, the better.

A. Rule of thumb: If the First bounce or hop off the bat is high... charge the ball hard. It's a little bit more complicated than that, but the reasoning is an initial high hop off the bat offers an excellent opportunity for an easy play.

B. Second Rule of Thumb: The second hop will not be as high as the first hop, but it will still provide an easier fielding play. It's important you time the height of the hops as the ball approaches, so you field the ball at the highest point. You do Not want to charge a high hop you can not get to at it's peak, then end up trying to field the ball at it's lowest level, creating an in-between bounce which is extremely difficult to field and throw.

2. Short Hops:

Fielded correctly a short hop can be just as easy as a high hop to field, and there will be more opportunities to field short hops because the ball has been relatively well hit, instead of being pounded into the ground to create a high hop.

A. Fielding the short hop involves utilizing the basics you learned in atom baseball. As the ball approaches, keep your glove down on, or within inches of the ground and out in front of your body.

B. Adjust your body position if required in order to get in front of the ball or move forward in order to catch the ball at the advantageous height. Do not back up in order to catch a ground ball, as backing up puts you on your heels, off balance and at the mercy of the ball.

C. Once the ball hit's the glove, move the glove forward through the ball, do not move the glove backwards which generates energy which could sling the ball out of the glove and extends the arc of the bounce, which increases the chance of an error.

Learning to read a ground ball will result in you becoming a better and more confident infielder.

Jim Bain, former Minor league baseball player and member of "Baseball Coaches of America" shares his advice on baseball coaching baseball drills on his exciting info packed website: http://www.learn-youth-baseball-coaching.com

Source: EzineArticles
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