|FIELDING: Right Over Left
"Right Over Left"
Leads To Consistent Fielding
Most coaches have a universal solution to the problem of infielders
committing fielding errors. The solution is quantity of repetition. The
more an individual practices a physical skill the better chance one has
of repeating the skill successfully in a ball game. This philosophy has
proven true. Hard work and quantity of repetition does lead to improved
performance. However, as coaches we should strive to make fielding ground
balls a commitment to quality as well as quantity. Developing a skill which
can be consistent and brought to the ball park every day should be paramount.
Fielding is such a skill and quality repetition will enhance your teams'
performance. The following is a four step fundamental fielding program
which will enhance the defensive consistency of infielders and develop
a commitment to quality as well as quantity.
1. The Prep-Step Preparation of fielding is often overlooked. However,
its importance is not diminished by lack of preparation. Mental preparation
is difficult for many because they need to utilize the down time between
pitches to define and analyze the situation. The situation can be defined
by knowing all aspects of the game, and the capabilities of the players.
Analyzing the situation can be monotonous for 150 pitches per game. Excellent
fielders are mentally prepared and learn to use the 20 seconds between
pitches properly even though difficult to practice. Quality fungo work
can be analyzed by the fielder during the 10-15 seconds between repetitions.
The physical preparation can be compared to that of a boxer. Boxers move
around the ring in a balanced athletic position on the balls of their feet.
Their feet are at shoulder width and their knees are slightly on the
inside of their feet. While moving their feet as a boxer in a bouncy manner,
the fielders' spikes should always have contact with the ground. This will
allow the chance for explosive movements side to side as well as forward
2. Get to the Right of the softball If the infielder is right-handed
he should play the ball left-to-right.
"Rounding" the softball is a common term, however, cutting
off angles is not necessarily rounding. The understanding of angles will
increase the ''airtime'' which has to be under 4.1 to get most runners
out at first base. When getting to the right of the ball, pick out a hop
and judge velocity of the groundball as soon as it is hit. The set up of
the fielder's feet should be wider than shoulder width and the fielder
should stabilize his glove side foot by rolling from "heel-to-toe"
on the glove side.
3. Breakdown Bend at the waist in a balanced athletic position with
thighs parallel with the ground and spine slightly forward. Be sure fielder
can stay "under" the ball. The ball is lined up with the button
on top of the fielder's cap. The fielder sets up on balls of feet and knees
are "inside" the balls of his feet. The fielder's glove hand
goes toward the line of the ball like a scoop and the throwing hand covers
the glove with both thumbs inverted. The ball should be caught in the palm
of the glove. The glove hand stops the spin or velocity of the ball so
it can be controlled with the throwing hand. The quicker the exchange
of the ball is made into the power or throwing hand, the less chance for
error. The exchange should be made in front of the fielder, parallel with
the centerline of the body, between the balance points of the inner ear
and always within the fielder's peripheral vision. The ball should be exchanged out in front.
4. Right Over Left/Left Over Right After the exchange, the footwork
should be consistent repetitively. The right-handed fielder should drive
his right foot in front of the left pointing his right toe to first base.
The footwork will allow one release point which will make throws consistent
horizontally. Vertical accuracy is in- creased by the consistency of how
the right foot travels. Explode with your right foot over left; left-handed
players explode with their left foot over right. Be sure to point the toe
where you are throwing for accurate throws. Don't "drag" one
foot in front because it will open up the hips too early. Coaches can incorporate
"right over left" into the double play pivot, cutoff and relay
Quantity of repetition will increase your fielder's ability. The
fundamentals of fielding will give your fielder the ammunition to be consistent.
When your fielder comes to the ball yard, he'll bring his shoes, bat, glove,
and "defense" everyday.