Athletic stance (Shoulder width apart. Slightly staggered. Weight slightly on balls of feet.)
Knees bent, tail/rump low
Square to batter, chest slightly forward, but balanced and chest/eyes pointed toward batter.
Arms a comfortable distance away from body- elbows slightly bent (not locked)
Glove on ground, open, palm-up. In front of body (not under body)- this makes it easier to view when fielding ball, allows for reaction time if ball takes last minute bounce, and provides room to cushion ball when fielding)
Free hand nearby to support fielding of ball (“two-hands”)
Get in front of the ball and be square to ball whenever possible.
Keep tail low and eyes on ball all the way into glove.
Glove remains out front, open, and on ground (if necessary, come up to the ball on bounces). Field UNDER the ball.
Chomp down on ball with second hand (using ´alligator´ method, or pinkies together and close over glove), and absorb ball into body (soft hands to slow ball down as opposed to stopping the ball). As athlete becomes more proficient at this motion, they can work on absorbing the ball into knee/hip/shoulder as a motion to transition into throw- this will happen on the throwing hand side of the body.
Footwork to prepare for throw will happen at the same time as ball is being brought up.
For large bounces, try to field ball at the apex (highest point), OR just after it bounces so it can come up firmly into glove.
(Drills: bare hand drills, shirt bite, tap-ins/slap-ins, windshield wiper fielding, fielding line w buckets)
Throws and Line Drives
Typically, fielder will be more erect when catching a throw or line drive. Glove is extended out in front of body (roughly in front or chest), with a slight bend in elbow (soft/relaxed), and fingers of the glove pointing up. The other hand is nearby to support the catch. Watch ball into glove.
In reacting to the placement of the ball, the fielder can use the belly button as an indicator of glove position: if ball above belly button=fingers up/thumbs together and catch with 2 hands. If below bells button=fingers down/pinkies together and catch with 2 hands. If ball is directly at belly button= best to keep fingers up and bend at knees to keep comfortable.
Absorb ball into body- if possible, into the throwing shoulder to transition to throw
(Drills: clock drill
Get to spot quick with hustle and footwork- if possible, call ball at apex (highest point). Once under ball set feet for follow up throw (keeping in mind it is always easier to take a step or two in towards ball as opposed to a last minute adjustment backwards).
Lift glove and free hand above head, thumbs together, and track the ball by watching slightly above the glove. Elbows should be relaxed (not locked) and ready to cushion the ball. Align so ball is coming toward eyes and at the last minute, move glove to catch ball and secure it with free hand. Cushion ball into throwing shoulder to help with transition to throw.
Covers short distances
Covering greater distances
Some coaches encourage fielders to break their inertia as the pitch is delivered- this often is a step or two towards batter so motion can be continued in any direction when fielder is called upon
Drills for Fielding
Don’t feel you need to discover the best, most magical drills… feel confident in designing your own drills. Start with an objective- what, specifically, you want athletes to get from the drill. Once you identify the skill (fielding under the ball, shuffling to ball, charging ball, footwork from fielding to throwing, etc.), determine what condition they will execute the skill (beginner, reps, game conditions). Next organize your drill- and try to maximize athlete activity and coach feedback. As the video below demonstrates, use resources to facilitate maximum ball-touches (short lines, use buckets and isolate the skill of interest). Try to avoid 8 athletes watching one ball being fielded, thrown to a base, then thrown to another player who hands it off to the coach, who then talks for 30 seconds before starting the next rep. Be efficient.