When professional scouts are grading players, the players are judged on a 5 tool system. One of those tools that is often over looked by athletes but valued by coaches and scouts is fielding.
Fielding is the tool that can keep you in the game when your bat isn’t performing well or it’s the skill that can keep you on the bench with the game is tight. No coach wants a liability on field in a pinch.
Fielding is both a science and an art form
Greats like Ozzie Smith (if you don't know The Wizard, acquaint yourself immediately) and Derek Jeter make fielding look almost magical--when Ozzie turns the double play or when Jeter uses his patented jump throw from the six hole.
So, how do players begin to build these skills? With these 4 great tips for fielding like the pros.
Having the proper rhythm in your footwork is one of the most important aspects of proper fielding technique. Having your feet carry your body to the correct spot, using the proper angle is all dependent on having rhythm and timing. Make sure you are using your time wisely and practicing the correct rhythm.
TOOLS FOR FOOTWORK DRILLS: Quick Ladder
Learning to read the ball off the bat and get to it in the most efficient way comes down to angles. Learning to cut the ball off and get it to the appropriate base or target is key in saving runs and helping the team win. Working on your lateral movements to both your glove side and your throwing side will help you understand proper angles and the routes need to save runs.
3. Glove Control
Learning how to control your glove hand is one of the most overlooked skills for younger players. With the weight of the glove on the hand, it's natural the your glove hand will move slower and in a less efficient manner than when the glove is off. It's important to understand how to control the path of your glove and not waste time or have unnecessary movement that isn’t directed towards the ball.
TOOLS FOR GLOVE CONTROL DRILLS: Softhands
4. Pre-Pitch Setup
By understanding the game situation (hitter, count, pitcher), fielders can have a game plan going into each pitch and prepare accordingly. By knowing the hitter's tendencies, this in itself can have a huge effect on the 3 prior tips. Proper preparation prevents poor performance.
TOOLS FOR PRE-PITCH SETUP DRILLS: Your focus and discipline.