Thursday, January 6, 2011

Correctly Using a Backhand to Field

Although you want to try to field every ball in front of your body, sometimes it isn’t possible. As an infielder, ground balls will be hit to your sides, and you will not be able to catch the ball in line with your chest as you should on a routine ball. When you have to reach across your body with your glove, this is called fielding the ball on your backhand. 

There are two different ways to field the ball with a backhand. One allows you a further reach, while one protects the ball if you miss or bobble it. Some coaches prefer one over the other. I would like to see a player protect the ball when possible, but, if it means a further reach, try to make the play.

If you are right handed, which means you could be playing all of the infield positions, to field a ground ball with a backhand, you will be moving to your right.  A left handed player will only be playing first base on the infield (although I have seen lefties in youth leagues play other positions). A backhand play will have you moving to your left. 

Protect the Ball

Act as though you are in good proper position, which I detail in The Perfect Player, and are facing home plate. Depending on which hand you use, stand towards the direction you will be moving. To field the ball and protect it, take a step with your back leg in the same direction (righties will step with their right leg and lefties with their left).

At the same time, bend your knees and reach across your body and put your glove on the ground. From this position, if the ball hits off of your glove or takes a bad bounce, it will more than likely hit off your body and land somewhere around you. While you may not record an out, blocking the ball could prevent a runner from advancing an additional base. 

Reach Further

From your starting position, with your body facing home plate, again turn in the direction you will be moving to execute a backhand. Now step with your front leg (righties will step with their left leg and lefties with their right). 

In the same motion, bend your knees and again reach as far as you can. Notice that your glove is out by itself. Any ball you miss will more than likely get past you and go into the outfield. 

I suggest getting used to both and knowing when to use each of the respective backhands. A backhand, like any other motion in baseball requires practice to perfect the motions.

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