Developing a personal fielding routine and sticking with it is one of the best ways to keep your defensive game sharp. A smart routine helps an infielder develop good habits, as well as keeping his mind and reflexes game-ready.
What is a fielding routine?
A fielding routine is a series of physical and mental purposeful steps that you perform before games that will help you get ready. These are things that get your mind and body ready to play.
Fielding routines can be altered often to fit how your body is feeling that day, or if you just need some extra work in. Some guys only need ten ground balls, while others like to take 50 before they feel ready. My personal philosophy is to get a few ground balls of any kind that I might see in the game that day. It’s a quality over quantity approach.
Pro Tip for Infielders
During practice, spend a few minutes on non-routine plays. Practice spin plays, glove flips, throwing on the run, off-balance throws, jump throws, behind the back tosses, and other such challenging, non-routine plays.
Don’t be afraid to be creative in your practice time!
Some coaches will tell you just to practice fielding the routine ground ball. Personally, I have seen some of the best infielders in the MLB use plays in games that were 1st tried in practice just for fun.
Not every play in a baseball game is routine, so practice is the time to develop body and field awareness.
At the very least, you should spend this time working on the plays you might realistically encounter during a game, such as extended backhand and forehand plays, glove flips, or spin throws.
While I recommend that you develop a routine that stays fairly constant, there are days when you might feel like you need to work more on one type of play than another. For example, your routine backhand feels great, but your out-stretched forehand feels a little off today, so you spend more time working on those.
Why are fielding routines important?
Defense is an area where people tend to take breaks. This is just as important as offense. If you go 0-4 in the game and don’t drive anyone in, but you make 2 big plays that prevent runs from scoring, you have made a big impact on the score of the game.
It is this preparation that gives the confidence that gives your game the extra edge. Believing in yourself and trusting the work you do will go a long way. This is a key component to fielding and being the best all around player you can be.
Consistency is Key!
Fielding routines, no matter your position should be done every day you get on the field for batting practice. This helps get your body and mind get ready for the game.
You need to remember not to get tired, this is preparation for the game. You customize your own routine, so you can work on the plays you feel good about and the ones you need to work on. Any routine is good, keep it efficient and consistent. Work hard and get it done. The mental toughness it takes to go through your routine when you don’t feel like taking ground balls is what separates the good from great infielders.
Sample Fielding Routine: Doug Bernier’s Fielding Routines
Click here to view my daily pregame routine. I play multiple positions so I have to go to different positions to stay sharp. Maybe you can take bits and pieces from my routine or you can come up with something that is completely your own.