Infield tips for how to communicate infield defense strategies to let them know what pitch is coming or who is covering what base. Also, a few strategies to be in the best position to make plays and to use the field to your advantage.
There is much strategy that goes into a successful defense. As infielders, you must be aware of many moving factors, and be able to communicate effectively with your teammates.
Shortstop and 2nd Baseman
Non-verbal communication is part of the defensive strategy that happens between the shortstop and 2nd baseman between every pitch WHEN there is the potential for a play at 2nd base. This includes possible stolen base or pick-off attempt.
The Purpose: To communicate who will cover the 2nd base bag on a stolen base attempt.
This is done non-verbally (For all you literary geniuses out there, that means NO WORDS OR SOUNDS) because you don’t want the other team to know who is covering the bag. Knowing this could potentially give away what pitch is coming or give the other team an advantage on hit and runs knowing where to hit the ball.
How to execute this strategy:
This non-verbal communication is universal and very easy.
Open mouth, closed mouth.
1.After the sign is given from the catcher to the pitcher and we see what pitch is going to be thrown, the shortstop makes the decision of whether or not he is covering the bag based on the pitch and the hitters tendencies.
Pro Tips for better Infield Defense Strategy
Don’t tip off the hitter.
As a middle infielder when we see what sign is given by the catcher, our first instinct is to move to where we think the hitter will hit the certain pitch (pulling off speed, or hitting a ball up the middle on a fastball away). Do not move from where you are standing! Good hitters will see you moving to your right or left and have and idea what is coming.
Making your Move.
In your approach to your ready position you can make a slight hop in the direction you feel the ball may be hit. Make sure this is done just before contact. When the ball goes through the hitting zone we want our feet to be on the ground. Sometimes an extra 2 inches of range can be the difference in making and not making a play.
2.To execute this form of non-verbal communication the shortstop will look at the 2nd baseman and keep his mouth closed. His face will be blocked by his glove so only the 2nd baseman can see the sign.
3. The 2nd baseman in return gives an open mouth back to the shortstop so they both know who is covering the bag. Whoever has the closed mouth will be covering the bag. The shortstop will decide who covers, he gives open or closed mouth, reciprocated by the 2nd baseman, and then get ready for the pitch.
Middle Infield to 1st and 3rd Basemen
- Non-verbal communication happens between the shortstop and 2nd baseman every pitch.
- Verbal communication happens between the shortstop and 3rd baseman on every pitch.
- Verbal The second baseman will communicate with the first baseman on every pitch.
This allows the corner infielders (1st and 3rd basemen) to know if an off-speed pitch is coming. After the middle infielders (shortstop and second baseman) see the sign given from the catcher they will give a verbal command to the corner infielders to let them know what is about to be thrown.
If a fastball is coming, the infield defense does nothing.
If any form of off-speed pitch is coming (slider, curve ball, change-up, split-finger) the corner guys will hear a name call or a short hissing sound. It doesn’t matter as long as you both agree on the sound.
REMEMBER! An infield defense tip which may seem obvious but is very important – be sure you don’t talk too loudly. Make sure your corner men can barely hear it. Also, if you let them know too early the coaches can relay signs quickly, so don’t say anything until after the pitcher is set and about ready to pitch.
This form of communication may give the 3rd corner infielders a slightly better jump on a ball hit to them.
Talk to your corners and see what form of communication they prefer, or even if he wants to know what pitch is coming. Some corner guys don’t like to know.
A successful infield defense requires strategy and communication. There’s a lot to know, but with time and practice it will become automatic. I hope you find these infield tips to be helpful, and I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below. Play hard! – Doug
As a HS Varsity softball coach we use “The Signalfan” to signal to our fielders. Esp 1st and 3rd plays. When using the Signalfan all fielders including the outfielders are aware of where the play is going so everyone can move accordingly. No opposing coach has picked up our signs in 4 years! There is no chance for confusion. We also use The Signalfan to adjust or alert outfielders. It is an awesome aid to communication, whether it be calling pitches
( again your fielders can be alerted simply by watching the sign) ,calling pick offs, or dictating to the offensive base coach what you want the batter/runner to do. It must be very effective because it is in at least 35 states and also in Canada and Japan.