Proper first base footwork can dramatically increase range and balance, making navigation around the first base bag a lot easier.
Jorge Vasquez on 1st base.  This article is about first base footwork.

Image by Frank Lauri

Why Footwork Matters.

In baseball, footwork is an essential part of any infielder’s arsenal of defensive techniques. This is particularly true for first base footwork.

Understanding where your feet need to be and how to use them properly allows you to maximize the distance you can cover while maintaining contact with the bag.  Proper footwork not only helps you as a first baseman but it makes your other infielders better as well.

1. Get to the base, ASAP!

This is important. The first thing on any ball that is not hit to you is to get to the bag as quickly as possible.

2. Square up.

Once you get your feet to the bag, turn your head and square up to where the ball is coming from.  Make sure both heels are planted on the base.  This will help you know where the entire base is without looking at it.

3. Move your foot to the ball.

Once the ball is released (very important) take your right foot to the ball if you are left handed or left foot to the ball if you are right handed. (Note: Do not do this too early. Committing too early makes it difficult to adjust if the throw is less than perfect.) Done correctly, taking your foot to the ball gives you the maximum amount of range while keeping your other foot on the bag.

4. Stay inside.

The foot that is touching the bag (right for right hander, and left for left hander) should be on the inside part of the bag. Picture a line going right down the middle of the base and half is yours and half is the runners. The runner should hit the middle to outside part of the bag.

5.The Stretch.

If the throw is going to your left or right, feel the bag with the foot that will maintain contact and move that foot as far to the corner as possible. Stretch towards the ball keeping your toe on the bag. Sometimes every inch counts when trying to stay on the bag. Learn to move up and down the bag to get as much reach as possible.

The Exception.

First base footwork on a bunt or a batted ball that is between the catcher and the mound is a little different. Keep your left foot on the 1st base (this is the same for both lefties and righties) and square up to the play. You will not be able to make a long stretch for the ball. There can be a tight throwing window and you want to give the thrower a large target (hence squaring up). If you stretch towards the ball you will get your feet tangled up in the runner and run a very big risk of not being able to stay on the bag on a throw that is not perfect. If the throw takes you into the runner you can adjust and try to at least knock it down.

More Fielding Instruction for First Basemen:

1 Comment

  1. mike williamsen on

    Younger first basemen get caught in the trap of keeping their foot anchored on the bag at the risk of missing the catch. Pulling the foot is better than a runner at 2nd. I used to nudge the bag with my bag-foot toe to show the umpire I had contact.

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Doug Bernier, founder of Pro Baseball, debuted in the Major Leagues in 2008 with the Colorado Rockies, and has played professional baseball for 13 years. Most recently, Doug signed with the Minnesota Twins in 2013, where he logged time at every infield position except 1st base in 33 Major League games. Currently Doug is with the Twins' AAA team in Rochester, NY