Fielding ground balls barehanded and other plays on the run

A bunt or slow rolling play often makes for a close play at first base. To get the out, infielders need to know how to be as efficient with their movements as possible.

Angle of ApproachThis is the ideal angle to approach the baseball when fielding a ground ball

When we make a decision to charge the baseball, we first want to set our angle. The angle you set depends (obviously) on where you are going to throw the ball, and on how much time you have to make the play.

The more time you have, the more you can line up to make the play at the ideal angle. If you have time, even subtle adjustment to your approach can make for a more successful throw to your target.

For example, if you are running forward to field a ground ball and throw it to 1st base, you want to get to the right of the baseball (if possible) and charge towards and through the baseball in the direction of first base (see diagram).

Should I use my bare hand, one hand, or two hands to field the ball?

This video will demonstrate your options for fielding ground balls rolling slowly or bunts.

This decision should be based on how hard the baseball is hit and how much time you have to make the play.  Most importantly the decision between using one or two hands should be based on which one you feel most comfortable with.

1. One hand (with glove)

– If you have time, the safest way to make the play is with your glove.  Usually a ball hit a little harder, is moving or hopping, we will use one hand.

For a ball that is more “do or die,” you will either use a bare hand or two hand play.

2. Bare hand

– Use this option if you don’t have time to use your glove, and if the baseball is stopped or rolling slowly.  Open your hand fully and grab the ball with all your fingers spread apart.  Give yourself the largest amount of surface area to catch the baseball.

3. Two hands

– Two hands are needed when it is going to be a close play. You will get rid of the baseball about one step quicker with two hands than you will with one hand. To be able to field with two hands it will help if you can throw side arm.  With this arm angle being lower, the ball is out and on its way to first base quicker then if you were to get your arm up and throw across the infield.  Almost feel that as soon as the ball hits your glove it is out and on its way to first base.

Tips to execute the two-handed play: When the baseball hits our glove, our left foot should be hitting the ground at the same time. This allows us to transfer from our glove to our hand. By the time of our next step when our right foot hits the ground the ball should be out and on its way to first base.

Fielding for Infielders, Summary

This is a lot of stuff when thinking about a ground ball, but you’ll see dramatic improvement if you work on it every day. As you practice, you should try to read groundballs earlier and earlier.  Being confident in your fielding will take time and repetition.  Continue to work correctly and your confidence will go up and you will look a lot smoother when fielding ground balls.

  1. Professional Fielding Tips for Infielders
  2. How to Field Routine Ground Balls
  3. Backhand Plays
  4. Forehand Ground Balls

About Author

Doug Bernier, founder of Pro Baseball Insider.com, 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

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