Five Star Fielding from Total Baseball Development
As the old adage goes pitching and defense wins championships. Here is a simple five step approach to helping you become a better fielder. It is called Five Star Fielding. The five steps are: SET – GO – STEP – CATCH – THROW. Memorize it and start practicing.
SET – The SET position will have you down and ready to field when the ball crosses home plate after being pitched by the pitcher. Your feet should be wider than shoulders width with your left foot one half shoe length out in front of the right foot. This example and all further examples will be set up for infielders that field with their left hand and throw with their right hand. For left handed throwers just reverse the steps and sequences. It is important for all fielders, left or right handed to get to the set position. To get to this position take one of the two following approaches; a two step approach stepping right and then left or a three step approach stepping left then right then left. Then to be properly ready your glove should be out in front of you and left of center a bit and below your knees with it open and the palm of the glove facing home plate. Have your right hand comfortable out in front of you with the palm also facing home plate. Make sure that you are going down slightly as the ball crosses the plate. If you are coming up then this defeats the whole purpose of the set position. This may take a little time to perfect, but once you get it down you will not want to do it any other way. Being set and ready increases your range and gets you physically ready for anything that might happen next.
GO – Once you are set and the ball is hit then it is time to GO to the ball. When time allows and whenever possible point your ball side foot to the ball as soon as you recognize where the ball is hit to. This is done regardless if it is hit to you or not, and by doing this it keeps you in good practice and also creates a routine. Then you follow with the rest of your body. This it streamlines the path to the ball and gives you a road map on how to get there. Then, when you have time, you should round the ball on your approach to the ball. Rounding the ball gets you going in the right direction and gets your momentum going towards first base allowing you to set up your body to make a good throw. You round the ball by stepping slightly to the right of the ball in a circling or rounding fashion as you approach the ball and as you step, catch, and throw the ball you will see how you are balanced and in line with first base making for an easy throw to your firstbaseman.
STEP – As you approach the ball by rounding it you will need to properly STEP to the ball by timing it's arrival and preparing yourself to catch the ball at the bottom of the hop or the top of the hop. You step to the ball by repeating the preparatory steps in the Set position with your feet a little wider allowing you to get your glove lower. Step right then left and catch the ball. A good way to set your steps up properly is to count the hops from the first hop until the time that you catch it. It programs your brain and your body to set you up properly after many repetitions, and helps you to concentrate and this will enable you to approach the ball and catch the ball easier.
CATCH – See the Set position and repeat it…..That is why the Set position is so important. It prepares you to CATCH the ball properly and it actually gives you practice right before it happens. Catch the ball as far out in front of your body as possible, a bit left of the center, with your glove open, out in front of you, and accessible. The heel of your right hand should be just above the heel of your glove with fingers spread wide apart and pointing skyward, and as the ball enters your glove immediately close down over the ball and take the ball out of your glove. By doing it this way this will enable you to deflect errant hops up above you glove back into your glove and it will also protect your face. When done properly this will give you the confidence to keep your head down on the ball and catch everything in sight.
THROW – After rounding the ball, and stepping to the ball properly, and catching the ball out in front of your body you should now be ready to make an easy THROW to first base. Continue with your right then left steps towards first base as you raise your glove and throwing hand to their proper positions as quickly as possible without hurrying and keeping your glove on the left side of your body. Your glove should point at the firstbaseman. Your best throw will come from having your elbow above your shoulder and placing your index and middle finger across four seams of the ball. The first baseman should be able to see the knuckles of your right hand as you 'hide' the ball from him behind your hand. This is all done while stepping with your right foot perpendicular to the flight of the ball and your left foot pointing at the firstbaseman. Then throw the ball right through the chest of the first baseman. Not to the firstbaseman, but through him. Keeping your feet moving and the glove on the left side of your body will set you up for a quick release of the ball. Get the ball and get rid of the ball.
You can find more instructional photographs and more on baseball at our website at: totalbaseballdevelopment.com And remember get a good glove that is not too big, always wear a protective cup whenever you are playing, and practice, practice, practice. Good luck.