How to Field a Ground Ball: The proper technique and footwork for making the routine plays look easy
by Kyle Dalton
The Legs Feed the Wolves
Just like in every sport and every facet of life, fundamentals are the keys to success. A successful player is a player that understands this aspect of the game and works tirelessly to make sure he is fundamentally sound.
One of the most important aspects of baseball, in every aspect of the game is a player’s footwork. When you’re hitting, you need your footwork to be consistent and repeatable. When you’re pitching your footwork needs to put you in position to fully utilize the rest of your body. When you’re fielding, you need your footwork to stay consistent and get you in an athletic, powerful position to make the play.
Over the course of a regular baseball game, there are only a handful of minutes of actual gameplay. The rest of the game is preparation for the next pitch or the next inning, that’s why players need to consistently stay athletic and stay prepared. When a player is in the field, the ball can be hit to them at any time, and if the player is caught on their heels or caught outside of an athletic position, they will fail to make the play.
That is where our footwork comes into play. Before the pitcher begins his windup, we want our players to “creep” forward and stay on the balls of their feet. This allows them to react to any ball that is hit their way and will prevent them from being caught off-guard.
When we attack a baseball in order to field the grounder, we like to see our players field with their feet slightly wider than shoulder width, have a flat back, and be up on their toes. Fielding a ground ball in this position allows the player to react to whatever hop the ball may take and, once they make the play, will allow them to maintain an athletic position as their preparing to make the throw.
Attacking THROUGH the Baseball
We’ve covered how to get our players in position to field a groundball. But what happens after you make the play? Do you stand straight up and trust your arm to make the play? No. You want to stay low and allow your legs to bring you towards your target. Once you field the ball out front, we like to see our players stay low and use their legs to shuffle towards their target. This not only gives the first basemen (or target) time to get set, but also allows our players to gain ground and use their legs to be a part of their throw. These shuffles allow our players to gauge the amount of time they will have to make the throw, give them time to get a good grip on the baseball, and gives our players an easier and shorter throw to their target.
Constantly working on improving a players’ footwork will not only help when they are in the field, but it will help them in every aspect of the game. If we can continue to work with our players’ on staying on the balls of their feet and attacking through the baseball, they will see their success skyrocket. Keep challenging your players, make them do drills that make them uncomfortable. That is how players start to understand their body and gives them the tools to improve and succeed. Legs feed the wolf, if you have sound and controlled footwork you will be much more confident as soon as you step on the field.
Having a solid defensive foundation is a staple of Starters youth baseball training because it gives all of our athletes a simple and functional style of footwork to help them succeed at all levels of the game of baseball.
Additionally, it is one of the central focuses of our Spring Club Teams and the development of strong fielding fundamentals will help all of our athletes succeed as they move on to their association tryouts and summer season.
To learn more about the Starters Sprin Club Program as well as to reserve your spot at our Spring Tryouts on February 16th, 2019, please visit our website here.
If you have any additional questions for Kyle Dalton related to fielding footwork as well as any other general fielding or hitting questions, please email himm at firstname.lastname@example.org