Mt. Laurel Girls Softball

Basics of Fielding

CATCHING

Plan to work on catching mechanics at every practice!


Key Points:

  1. Body position

  2. Glove position

  3. Catch and transition to the throw

  4. Step by Step—Instructions for the young player

  5. Drills


Body position—catching involves not only the proper use of the glove, but proper footwork, as well.  Have the player stand in an athletic position, with the feet slightly wider than the hips.  The knees should be slightly bent.  The player should be on the balls of her feet with a slight bend at the waist.  This position will allow her to react quickly and move in any direction.  


Glove position—the player gives her partner a good target, with the glove shoulder high.  The thumbs are up on the glove hand and the throwing hand, and the elbows are down.  The throwing hand is as close to the glove hand as possible.  Think “thumb to thumb”.  Remember—palm out and fingers up!


Catch and transition—make the catch either in the middle of the body or in front of the glove hand shoulder.  The arm is slightly extended and “gives” with the ball on the catch.  Watch the ball into the glove.  The player’s body is square to the thrower.  As the player brings her arm back to prepare to throw, pivot the right foot so that it is at a 45° angle to her partner.  Then quickly pivot the left foot as well.  The player is now sideways to the target and in proper position to return the throw.  As mentioned in the “throwing” section, draw an upside down “T” on the ground and have the players practice quickly shifting the feet on the “T”.








For the young player, the tendency is to catch a ball above the waist with the palm facing her.  This is incorrect and can lead to the player getting hit in the face with a ball that pops out of the glove.


For balls thrown above the waist, the fingers on the glove hand should be pointing up.  The palms are out!


Have your players first practice this without a glove, as shown below.



                                                     


For balls thrown below the waist, the fingers on the glove hand are pointing down.  The palms are out!

                                                     


Tell the players to cover the ball with the throwing hand.


Step by step—Instructions for the young player:


  • Start with the player facing the thrower.  


  • Feet are as wide as the shoulders—stand slightly on the balls of the feet with the knees slightly bent.


  • Hold the glove shoulder high, with fingers up, palm out and glove thumb pointing in.


  • Extend your glove arm out slightly in front of you.


  • The throwing hand is held next to the glove hand, and the two thumbs are pointing to each other.


  • Catch the ball in front of the glove side shoulder or in the middle of the body.  Keep your nose on the ball.  This forces your eyes to follow the ball into the glove.


  • After the ball enters the glove, grab the ball with the throwing hand and get ready to make a throw.  The throwing hand is like a trap door that closes down on the ball.


  • Use the “T” drill to throw the ball back.



NOTE:


  • For balls thrown above the waist, the fingers are pointing up and the palm is out (thumb to thumb).


  • For balls thrown below the waist, the fingers are pointing down and the palm is out (pinkie to pinkie).



DRILLS



Catching:


  1. Use a tennis ball, whiffle ball, or Nerf-type ball—line up the players single file.  No gloves are used.  The first player in line gets her glove hand and throwing hand in a “thumb to thumb” position.  The coach tosses the ball shoulder height to the player, who makes a two-handed catch.  Continue to rotate the players.  Players should use the “T” drill to return the ball.  Add a glove to this drill and repeat.  Next, add a regulation softball to the drill.



  1. Use a tennis ball, whiffle ball, or Nerf-type ball—the first player in line gets her glove hand and throwing hand in a “pinkie to pinkie” position.  The coach tosses a ball below the waist to the player, who makes a two-handed catch.  Rotate the players.

Next, players wear gloves and repeat the drill.  Make sure the throwing hand covers the ball as it enters the glove.  Then, add a regulation softball to the drill.



  1. Use a tennis ball, whiffle ball, or Nerf-type ball—line up the players single file.  No gloves are used.  The first player in line puts her glove hand and throwing hand up at head level and in front of her body.  The hands are thumb to thumb.  The coach throws a pop-up.  The player secures the ball with two hands.  Add a glove to the drill, and then add a regulation softball to the drill.








FIELDING GROUND BALLS


The infielder needs to react quickly to a batted ball, covering pop-ups, line drives, ground balls, bunts, and slaps.  With each pitch, she needs to be on the balls of her feet and ready to move in any direction.  It is strongly recommended that all infield players, including the pitcher, wear mouthguards.  Protective eyewear is a good idea for both the pitcher, first baseman, and the third baseman, as well.


Key Points:

  1. Ready position

  2. Approaching the ball

  3. Securing the ball

  4. Footwork                                              


   Ready position:  the player assumes an athletic position.  Bend forward at the knees and waist.  The arms should extend down and away, with the hands out in front of the body.  Weight is on the balls of the feet.  The glove is down and ready to scoop up the ball.  The pocket of the glove is vertical and open to the ball.  The throwing hand is positioned above the glove, fingers spread wide and pointing up, ready to secure the ball in the glove.  The body is square to home plate.  Feet are slightly staggered.  The player needs to be prepared to move in 4 directions.


                                                         



Approaching the ball: the player should gradually move down to field grounders (like a plane landing and not a helicopter), keeping the ball on the glove hand side.  When possible, have the player round the ball so that she can move through the ball.

Here are 3 different scenarios:

  1. Slow roller—charge the ball hard and round the ball.

  2. Routine grounder—round the ball.

  3. Hard hit ball—no time to round the ball.  Just react!!


Securing the ball:

Field the ball between the shoulders or on the glove hand side of the body.

Stagger the feet, staying on the balls of the feet.

Butt is down with a flat back.

Field the ball out in front of the nose.

Take the throwing hand to the ball.

Keep the ball in the glove as it is being brought up to the throwing side shoulder.

Pull the ball out of the glove as the glove is brought up to the throwing position and make the throw.


Footwork:

Here are 3 different scenarios for moving the feet.  Remember—the feet turn the body!

  1. Ball right at the player—field the ball and step towards the target.

  2. Replace the feet—field the ball and the right foot replaces the left foot and throw is made.

  3. Step behind—field the ball and bring the right foot behind the left foot to turn the body and throw.


This player is ready to catch the ball in front of the body.  Her arms are positioned like “an alligator ready to close its jaws”.  (A benefit is that the throwing hand will block a ball that takes a bad hop).  She quickly brings the glove and throwing arm up to the throwing side shoulder.  The throw is made.


Step by Step—Instructions for the young player:


  1. Start with the body facing the coach.

  2. Get in the ready position by bending the knees and keeping the back flat—squat down!

  3. Extend the glove hand down and out so that it’s touching the ground.

  4. The throwing hand is in the “alligator” position.

  5. Catch the ball in the center of the body or on the glove hand side.

  6. As the ball enters the glove, secure the ball with the throwing hand.

  7. Bring the glove hand and ball hand up together to the throwing side shoulder.

  8. Use the “T” drill to make a return throw.



DRILLS


Fielding:


  1. The players are lined up next to each other.  No gloves.  Players get down on 2 knees.  The players put the fingers of the glove hand down, touching the ground, with the throwing hand in the “alligator” position.  Coach rolls a tennis ball to each player, who secures the ball with two hands.  The player brings the ball hand and glove hand together up to the throwing shoulder, and tosses the ball back to the coach.


  1. Next, the player gets in the ready position, no glove, and the first drill is repeated.  The player uses the “T” drill to return the tennis ball.


  1. Next, the player gets in the ready position with a glove, and the drill is repeated using a regulation softball.


  1. For advanced players, repeat the above drills by rolling the ball first to the forehand side and then to the backhand side.