So what is the number one method of improving infielding movements? Just play catch. That’s it. Throw the ball. Move the feet and catch the ball. How much more simplified can it be than that? Unfortunately playing catch is done at such a poor level that developing and acquiring skills needed for improvement go by the wayside. A simple routine of day in and day out catch, with purpose, intent and conviction will assist in the overall development of movements for any aspiring infielder.
How much time do players spend daily playing catch? The good ones will do it for 15 to 20 minutes daily, sometimes much longer than they will ever take batting practice. In daily throwing programs, players will have the ability to visualize how they want to make each catch, where the feet need to be positioned, how they will harmonize their hands (with their feet) and what type of position does one need to be in to efficiently make the catch and subsequent throw. During your daily throwing time, players will be able to experiment with various glove and hand positionings, throwing from different or awkward arm angles and even throwing the ball from positions that may cause imbalances. All of these types of development help the dexterity in the glove-hand relationship and relationship with the feet to improve lateral, forward and backward movements. Additionally, during this throwing time it is a good habit to have your partner throw balls that will bounce, whereby balls will take off from the ground and create long hops, short hops and in between hops. The infielder must change his thought process and visual observations of ball flight and determine what hop he can take the ball on, field it cleanly and have flow when making the return throw back to his partner.
It is easy to see why playing catch is a great developer for infielding movements. One thing we know about infielders is that they don’t always field ground balls in exactly the same spot each and every time, nor do they make throws with the exact same arm angle. In fact infielders, more than any other position, will not throw with the same arm angle from one throw to the next. Playing catch may seem to be infantile in its simplest form, but if the execution of each catch and throw is done with extreme precision and executed with intent and conviction, you can turn yourself into a confident infielder with good movement patterns.
Appreciate any comments you have and any other methods you might use when playing catch.
Rick Johnston, Co-Founder & Head Instructor - The Baseball Zone
Image courtesy of www.joanna.org