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WILTON LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL

Positional Clinics – Middle Infield 

 

  • Preparing to play second base or shortstop
    • Shortstop should call out the number of outs and location of the baserunner before every at-bat
    • As a general rule, set up outside the baseline behind the first baseman (if playing second base) and behind the third baseman (if playing shortstop)
    • “Prep step”
      • When the pitcher begins his wind-up, take two steps towards home plate (throwing-hand foot first, and then glove-hand foot)
      • Weight should be on the balls of your feet, with your body slightly crouched (about the height of your body when you are running)
        • Your feet should not be too wide apart, or you will reduce your ability to react quickly to the play
    • “Ready position”
      • When you are set up at normal depth, your glove SHOULD NOT be on the ground – keep your glove and throwing hand in front of your body around your knees
      • As your set-up position moves closer to home plate, your glove should move closer to the ground
  • Reacting to ground balls
    • Rule of thumb:  middle infielders should move in the direction that the ball is hit
      • If the ball is hit to the left side of the infield, the second baseman should move towards the second base bag
      • If the ball is hit to the right side of the infield, the shortstop should move towards the second base bag
    • Attempt to get your body in front of the ball
      • If the ball is not hit directly to you, use a cross-over step and keep center of gravity low, and pump arms naturally
      • If possible, square shoulders to the ball before fielding
    • When fielding the ball:
      • Approach the ball with a “two-step” motion (right foot first, then left foot), and position your body so that the ball is slightly to the glove side of your nose
        • If the play is at first base, then shortstops may want to slightly stagger their feet, with their left foot slightly in front of their right foot to be in a better position to throw to first base
      • Glove should be low to the ground and out in front of your head, with your throwing hand above the glove (ready to trap the ball)
      • REMEMBER:  Keep your head up and your eyes focused on the ball
        • If the ball takes a bad hop, then you can track the movement of the ball with your glove and throwing hand, bringing both towards your body
      • Middle infielders should try to catch the ball in the palm of their glove rather than in the webbing of their glove, making it easier to transfer the ball to the throwing hand
      • “Cradle” the ball by bringing your glove and your throwing hand towards your body, and (especially if you are playing shortstop) use a “two-step” motion before throwing to first base
    • If you cannot get in front of the ball
      • It may be necessary to take a slight angle back towards where the ball will cross your path, especially with runners on base (in order to keep the ball from reaching the outfield, which may allow the base runner to advance)
      • Ball hit to your glove side – try to field the ball off of your glove-side foot, and use a “two-step” motion before throwing to first base
      • Ball hit to your throwing-hand side – field the ball on your backhand
        • Your head should remain above the glove
        • The ball should be fielded off of your glove-side foot, which should be your lead foot
        • Use your knees to position yourself lower to the ground
        • After receiving the ball, use a “two-step” motion before throwing to first base

 

DRILL #1 – Ground ball progression, with ball rolled directly to fielder, to the fielder’s glove-hand side and to the fielder’s throwing-hand side, focusing on footwork, quick transfer and throw to first base

 

  • Charging and playing the bounce
    • Middle infielders should charge slow-hit ground balls and choppers, with the goal of fielding the ball before it takes a bad hop
    • REMEMBER:  For hard hit choppers, the ball often accelerates on the second bounce
      • If you cannot field the ball before the second bounce, then you may want to take a step back so that you are in a better position to field the hop

 

DRILL #2 – Fielding hard choppers and charging soft ground balls, focusing on fielding the ball, if possible, before the second bounce (for hard choppers) and making a quick transfer for the throw (for soft ground balls)

 

  • Force play at the second base bag
    • Ball hit to the shortstop
      • Shortstop’s options
        • Take the ball to the bag himself if he is close enough, touching the edge of the bag closest to the shortstop position
        • If close enough to the bag, then use an underhand flip
          • Cross-over step with throwing-hand foot
          • Make sure to show the ball to the second baseman
          • On the flip, do not take the ball back behind your body, and keep your momentum moving towards the second base bag
        • If too far from the second base bag, then use a “jab step” throw
          • Try to field the ball closer to your throwing-hand foot
          • Take a slight step backwards with your glove-hand foot to open up your shoulders towards the second-base bag, and throw
      • Second baseman should receive the throw on the outfield edge of the bag

 

DRILL #3 – Two-line progression drill, with shortstop asked to use jab step, underhand flip and unassisted play on rolled ball and second baseman receiving the throws

 

  • Ball hit to the second baseman
    • Second baseman’s options
      • If the ball is hit directly to the second baseman, then he can either:
        • Field the ball with his throwing-hand foot slightly behind his glove-hand foot and his hips opened slightly towards second base, allowing the fielder to quickly turn his shoulders to make the throw to the second base bag (although this increases the risk of the ball getting by the fielder)
        • Field the ball with his hips square to the ball, and then drop to his glove-hand knee while turning his upper body to make the throw to the second base bag
      • If the ball is hit to his glove-hand side, use a reverse pivot by planting his throwing-hand foot
      • If the ball is hit to his throwing-hand side, or if the ball is fielded close to the second base bag:
        • Take the ball to the bag himself, touching the outfield edge of the bag
        • Use an underhand flip
        • Use a backhand flip, extending the arm at the elbow while keeping the palm (and the ball) facing the second base bag
    • Shortstop should receive the throw on the outfield edge of the bag

 

DRILL #4 – Two-line progression drill, with second baseman asked to use hip-turn (or knee drop), underhand flip, reverse pivot, back-hand toss and unassisted play on rolled ball and shortstop receiving the throws

 

  • Reacting to pop flies (discussion only)
    • Shortstop
      • 3B / SS / P triangle – shortstop has priority
      • SS / 2B / P triangle – shortstop has priority
      • 3B / SS / LF triangle – left fielder has priority
      • SS / 2B / CF triangle – center fielder has priority
    • Second base
      • 1B / 2B / P triangle – second baseman has priority
      • SS / 2B / P triangle – shortstop has priority
      • 1B / 2B / RF triangle – right fielder has priority
      • SS / 2B / CF triangle – center fielder has priority 
    • Middle infielders should use the same drop-step motion as outfielders use when moving back on a pop fly
  • “Relay plays” and cut-offs on balls hit to the outfield
    • Shortstop as cut-off (rules of thumb)
      • No runners on base and ball hit to left field
      • Runner on first base and ball hit to left field or center field or, if the throw is coming to third base (or the right fielder has a weaker arm), right field
    • Second baseman as cut-off (rules of thumb)
      • No runners on base and ball hit to right field or center field
      • Runner on first base and ball hit to right field, if the throw is coming to second base (or the right fielder has a weaker arm)
    • Position your body in line between the outfielder and the target base
    • Give the outfielder a target to throw to by raising your hands in the air
    • After the ball is thrown, get into a position to catch the ball with your body turned so that your glove-hand side is pointing towards the target base
    • Before the ball reaches your glove (which should be outstretched, with your throwing hand, towards the ball), start your momentum towards the target base

 

DRILL #5 – Three-player relays, with coaches acting as outfielders and target basemen

 

  • Bunt coverage (discussion only)
    • Shortstop (rules of thumb)
      • No runners on base – cover second base
      • Runner on first base – cover third base, because recording the out at second base is typically too difficult
      • Runner on second base – cover third base if there is a force play, but cover second base if there is no force play
    • Second baseman (rules of thumb)
      • Typically cover first base when the first baseman is crashing
      • If the first baseman is instructed NOT to crash, then the second baseman should cover second base (and the shortstop should cover third base)
  • Plays at the second base bag (steal attempts and throws from the outfield or cut-off)
    • GOAL:  On tag plays, keep the glove as close to the tag point as possible and let the ball travel to the glove – try not to reach for the ball
    • When tagging, use the back of the glove
    • Stolen bases
      • Typically, the shortstop will take the throw at the second base bag, and the second baseman will set up about 10 feet behind the bag as a back-up (although the second baseman may take the throw if the batter is right-handed or has a tendency of pulling the ball)
        • MIDDLE INFIELDERS NEED TO COMMUNICATE BEFORE THE PITCH AND DECIDE WHO WILL TAKE THE THROW
      • Try not to leave your position until the ball crosses the plate – instead, set up closer to home plate to cut down the distance between yourself and the second base bag
      • When you reach the bag, set up either (1) straddling the bag (especially if the second baseman is taking the throw) or (2) with your left foot on the shortstop edge of the bag
      • Back-up player should track the throw and move into the proper position to keep the ball from going past him, while the player receiving the throw should try to stand his ground at the bag (to avoid a collision with the baserunner)
    • Throws from the outfield
      • Throw from left field – set up on the right field edge of the bag, with your back to right field and your glove positioned near the second base edge of the bag
      • Throw from center field or right field – straddle the bag with your back towards third base and left field and your glove positioned near the second base edge of the bag

 

DRILL #6 – Stolen base coverage, with shortstop taken the throw from the catcher (coach) and second baseman providing back-up, mixing in bouncing throws and wild throws