Picking Balls in the Dirt
Successfully fielding the short hop, whether it’s a low throw or a ground ball to you, can instantly make you the most popular guy on the team.
You can better yourself and your team by improving your ability to scoop errant throws out of the dirt. Your teammates will feel confident that their first baseman has their back, and isn’t going to miss-handle the short hop – a situation which usually results in an error for the guy who threw the ball.
This kind of confidence makes your infielders more bold to go after the difficult plays and to try to get the out, even if they run the risk of getting off a less-than-perfect throw. A first baseman who masters this defensive skill takes away hits from the other team, keep runs off the scoreboard, and build confidence for the whole team.
This takes skill and a lot of work, and the drills for fielding short hops are probably going to be your main practice. Here are a couple tips to give you the best chance to pick any ball in the dirt.
Panic is Bad. Preparation is Key.
With preparation, you can become comfortable enough with this situation to allow yourself be calm and watch the ball the whole way. You must remember to keep your foot on the bag and let all of your practice and natural ability take over.
Attack The Baseball.
Be aggressive. Just because it may be a difficult pick, don’t let the ball play you. Once you get into position to make the play, be aggressive with your glove and take it through the baseball, don’t give with the ball and let it play you. When in doubt, go get the ball.
Get To The Side Of The Baseball.
You can make a pick more difficult if it is right in front of you, first of all its difficult to decide if you are going to back hand it or scoop it. Also, your body can get in the way. This is a do or die play, so give yourself the best opportunity to make the play. Even if the throw is right at you, play it into a backhand or forehand and attack the ball. This also allows you to see the short hop from the side and may give you just a little better idea of where the ball is going to bounce.
Work From The Ground Up.
It is much easier to move your glove up then to move it down. A trick commonly used, is to start with your glove on the ground and once the ball hits the ground start working up. This tends to be the height the ball will be kicking up, unless it takes a weird hop.
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