What is the best way to learn how to pick every ball thrown to you?
by Dallas Hamlett
Photo Bill Stanton: Checkswing.com
Dallas asked: What is the best way tolearn how to pick every ball thrown to you? Like I want to be able to pick every single ball that's thrown to me. I don't want to miss a ball, I want to become a vacuum cleaner.
Rick answered: Dallas, thank you for your question, it is a good one.
Good fielding first basemen are an essential part of a strong defensive infield, at all levels. It is a great position to play, with a lot of responsibility.
There are a lot of skills needed to play the position, one of which is picking balls in the dirt. Build your base and become comfortable around the bag as a first step.
1. Square up to where the ball is coming from.
2. Right handed, right foot on base/ left handed, left foot on base.
3. Feel the bag with your heel.
4. Throw in the dirt, go down to up, dragging your glove along the ground as long as possible.
5. Key here: Make the pick with your glove open, glove side.
6. Anything from your glove side leg to the other side, play it with a backhand motion.
7. Key here: Don't commit too soon. If you get out there too soon, you can get locked up. It is all about timing.
8. Bend your knees, your knees take your glove to the ground.
1. Put 4 baseballs in a half circle out in front of you at the base. Assign a number, 1-4 to each.
2. Set up at the bag- stretch out and go through the "down to up" motion for each ball. One ball will be your forehand, the other three will be your backhands.
* The idea here is to get yourself as comfortable moving around the bag as you can get.
**An added dimension, have someone call out the numbers in mixed order and you move to that ball.
Everytime, "down to up", drag your glove along the ground as long as possible.
3. Progress to fielding throws in the dirt from another player, start at a short distance and slow, gradually backing up and increasing the speed and difficulty.
Take the time to fully develop your technique. Commit it to muscle memory.
We occassionally run a drill in practice where we have our infielders purposely make all types of bad throws from their positions, giving our first basemen many repetitions in a short amount of time.
If you find yourself working out alone, locate a masonary wall, set yourself up and throw your self balls to pick off the wall. Get a little more bounce with an incrediball, little easier to get it to come off the block.
Lots of quality repetitions, paying attention to your footwork and glove position. It will all come together.
Good luck as you head into your season.
Yours in baseball,