Third Base Tips and Instruction

Technique, Strategy, and Tips for Third Basemen

A third baseman should have a firm understanding of double play and relay positioning, as well as mastering several specific defensive skills.

The articles on this page were written exclusively by professional baseball players.  If you like them, we hope you’ll share them with your friends!

Click on the red links to get the step-by-step breakdown for each skill, as well as some advanced fielding third base tips to help you take your game to the next level.

Critical Skills for Infielders

1. Fielding Tips and InstructionNOTE:  Sections 1 – 4 are found on all infield pages.  If you’ve seen them before and are ready to move on, skip to #5 for 3rd base specific skills and positioning.Whether you want professional third base tips to fine-tune your game, or basic instruction on fielding mechanics, click here to learn how to consistently secure routine ground balls and make outs.

  1. The Pro Infielder’s Secret
  2. Routine Ground Balls
  3. Backhand Plays
  4. 5 Keys to a more consistent Backhand (Video, includes drills)
  5. Forehand Ground Balls
  6. Plays on-the-run, and slow rollers

If you can show that you are a strong defensive player you will be wanted to be on the field when the game is on the line. Everyone loves offense, but pitching and defense win games.

Free Diagnostic Tool[Quiz]  What type of Infielder Are You?
Knowing your “Infielder Type” is huge key to unlocking your full potential, because it reveals the sneaky problems that are blocking your infield success  (hint – it’s NOT the same for everyone)   
This free tool was developed by Defensive Specialist, former MLB infielder Doug Bernier, to help infielders figure out what’s holding them back.  Once these issues are identified and a plan for success is in place, most infielders can finally see rapid improvement.
2. Throwing MechanicsThrowing the ball around the infield is the second part of making plays. After we field and secure the ball we need to be able to throw it to the base that will give us an out.

How to throw a baseball harder and more accurately: Proper throwing mechanics
  1. Grip
  2. Mechanics of Throwing
  3. Feet Position, Upper Body and Feel

Being able to throw properly takes work, but with a few basics for throwing correctly you will be able to increase arm strength and accuracy – of which accuracy is more important.

3. Cut-Off fundamentals
How to be in the best position possible for taking a throw from an outfielder as a cut off man. Where to align yourself and how to make the quickest, most accurate throw possible.
4. Rundowns or “Pickle”
How to do a rundown or pickle. Rundowns are when you have a base runner caught in between two bases. There are many must do’s when trying to get the runner out as quickly as possible with the least amount of throws

Specific Skills for 3rd Basemen

5. Double Play FeedsAs the third baseman, it helps to know how the second baseman likes to take the feed, and how you can help make the double play turns easier.
6. Unique Defensive Plays
Bare hand plays, difficult plays to handle on tough hops, and utilizing long hops on your throws are unique plays that can make an average 3rd baseman very good, if used correctly.
7. Tag Plays: Receiving Throws from Catcher on Attempted Stolen Base
Being in position to make a tag on a runner is a basic concept that often times doesn’t get executed. The idea is to make the tag as quick as possible so you can have a better chance to get an out, and having your body in a good position to counteract a hit and run. Many times the difference between an out and safe call is milliseconds.

Positioning for 3rd Basemen

8. Double Play Depth and other Infield Positioning
Where is double play depth, infield-in, no doubles, and other infield positioning? Situational positioning for 3rd basemen. Includes diagrams and pro third base tips.
9. Beware the danger zone when playing third base
Did you know there is an area near 3rd base where everything is harder?  Learning where this “no fly zone” can improve your range, making more plays and reducing errors.
10. Bunt Play Positioning
Learn where to properly align yourself as the third baseman in bunting situations. Third base tips include the different types of bunts and how to position yourself and defend them properly.
11. Relay Positioning: Part 1
The 3rd baseman’s role and positioning for balls thrown from outfield to home plate, or cut-off for a play at 3rd base.
12. Relay Positioning: Part 13, Double Cuts This article discusses the following: What is a double cut relay? What is the 3rd baseman’s role in each scenario, and particularly for every ball hit to an outfielder where there is a potential play at home plate? Includes diagrams for clarity.
14. Pop Fly PrioritiesEveryone needs to know the chain of command so players won’t be fighting over who will catch a pop up – or having dangerous collisions. Visit this page to learn who the third baseman can call off and who you should defer to when a high pop fly is hit, as well as some other important protocols you will be expected to know.

Strategy and Game Preparation

15. Communication and Defensive StrategiesHow to communicate with other players around the infield 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.
16. Pregame Fielding RoutinesHaving a prepared routine that you can do everyday that will prepare you for the game. Defensive routines do the same thing as offensive routines, by using physical actions to get physically and mentally ready. Believing in yourself and trusting the work you do will go a long way.
17. Pre-game mental preparationDoing your homework before every game, to increase your awareness of what may happen throughout the game. From knowing your pitchers game plan for that night, to who can run on the other team, and knowing which hitters have certain tendencies that can be used against them during the game.
18. Know the Baseball FieldIn a game where split second decisions matter, the slope of the foul line, speed of the infield, and other such factors can dramatically change the outcome of a play. With just a little bit of preparation, you can give yourself an advantage during the game.

Want to Practice at Home… WITHOUT A PARTNER?  Use my favorite rebounder

Also, here’s 3 Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Rebounder for Baseball (Or softball)

Ten ways to use your baseball rebounder to practice fielding 


I hope these third base tips are helpful for you.  We want PBI to be the go-to resource for serous baseball players, so I invite you to leave feedback suggestions or questions in the comments section below.  We’d love to hear from you.  Play hard! – Doug

Other free baseball tips from Pro Baseball Insider:

About Author

Avatar für Doug Bernier

Doug Bernier, founder of Pro Baseball, debuted in the Major Leagues in 2008 with the Colorado Rockies, and has played professional baseball for 5 organizations (CO Rockies, NY Yankees, PIT Pirates, MN Twins, & TX Rangers) over the past 16 years. He has Major League time at every infield position, and has played every position on the field professionally except for catcher. (You should click to watch this great defensive play by Bernier) Where is he now? After 16 years of playing professionally, Doug retired and took a position as a Major League scout with the Colorado Rockies for 2 years. Currently Doug is the Data and Game Planning Coordinator with the Colorado Rockies


  1. Avatar für Bob

    My son plays third base and many of his throws sail to his right, first basemans left, any suggestions?

  2. Avatar für SK

    Wow and thanks. Very good stuff, especially for the youngsters and dad coaches. Simple instruction, which is key to providing sound direction. Market this locally to clubs all over the US and become the authoritative figure in youth baseball. All sports need this type of instruction and resource…

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