Presenting tips and advice from some of the top names in Fastpitch Softball. Be sure and check back soon as we will continue with additional advice from the experts and how you can learn to improve your game!
The Ready Position
The “ready position” follows the pre-pitch movement. At the moment the fielder decides it is time to move into the “ready position”, this is the exact moment the fielder must be prepared to field a hot line drive AND must be prepared to move in any and in all directions. Too often players forget about the second part of this statement, “prepared to move”.
Not So Ready
Some fielders crouch down with their feet too wide, their glove on the ground or near the ground, and their palms facing the hitter or turned upward toward the sky. Just as a hitter needs to stay relaxed to be quick, the same applies to an infielder. The ready position described above creates several problems for the fielder:
It is not very comfortable for the fielder to be positioned too low.
When positioned too low for any extended period, this can cause tension, not only in the fielder’s legs, but also in the fielder’s arms and hands.
In order for the fielder to be able to move quickly to a batted ball, the fielder should not position herself so low that it takes her extra time to get started.
The Laws Of Physics
As the pitched ball enters the hitting zone, every defensive player must establish some type of movement just prior to the ball being batted. The theory behind this technique is simple; it is much easier to move an object that is already in motion than it is to move an object that is static (stationary). The human body is no different than any other object in motion or in a static state.
A fielder's ability to make plays greatly depends on her understanding of being prepared prior to the ball being batted. To maximize the fielder's ability to make plays, an athletic position is recommended. A good athletic position is also referred to as the "ready position". A solid "ready position" consists of the following:
The fielder must first be mentally prepared for the ball to be batted in her direction, prior to the pitch being delivered.
The fielder’s knees and back should be bent comfortably.
The fielder’s feet should be placed slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
The fielder's arms should be placed comfortably out in front of her body, but not too far.
At the moment the ball crosses home plate, the fielder’s palms should be relaxed and directed inward and slightly upward, about body width apart.
The hands should be extended naturally.
The fielder’s weight should be distributed evenly on the balls of her feet.
With the correct balance the fielder will be in a position to push off in all directions easily and quickly, maximizing the fielder’s ability to take an aggressive approach to the batted ball.
All defenders should maintain a more upright position as they move further away from the batter. To this point, you would never expect to find an outfielder in the same (low) ready position as a first or third baseman.
The same theory holds true for any middle infielder. Middle infielders should maintain a more upright posture than what you would expect to see from a corner infielder. A more upright posture maximizes the fielder’s ability to move freely and more quickly to a ball batted to either side of the fielder.
Most throwing errors occur not because a player can’t throw the ball straight, but rather because a player does not have good balance or posture during the throwing motion.
Too often, fielders have their feet set to make a throw, when suddenly the throw has to be redirected. In this situation, most players will inevitably forget to reposition their feet in the new direction in which the ball must be thrown.
When fielders fail to reposition their feet before the throw is made, the fielder may be forced to make an off balance throw which ultimately increases the chance of a throwing error.
About our contributing coach...Our thanks to Coach Gabe Guerra- Coach Guerra has over 16 years experience coaching at the highest travel ball level including the California Cruisers 18u Gold, East Cobb Bullets (Georgia) 18u Gold, Tuff n' Nuff, Firecrackers, Victory 14u, 16u, and he is currently the head coach of Strike Force 18u Gold, (Southern California), 2013 Premier Girls Fastpitch (PGF) 18u Platinum National Champions.