Below are some things to keep in
mind when playing a specific position. Obviously, these kinds of things
make more sense in the context of a game, so they take some practice to
get used to. We can go over more detailed points of technique/more
exhaustive situations elsewhere if there's any interest.
- A slower pitch with more arc will generally lead to
more ground balls and/or pop ups because mistimed swings result in
hitting the pitch when it is at a significantly different height than
expected (significant cm). And since the batter has to supply
more of the energy, it's likely you'll earn some appreciation from your
OF who may not have to sprint after balls hit over their heads so much.
Anyway, since there are
no strikes and the batter can wait as long
as he wants to hit something, there's little point in imagining that
you're Nolan Ryan.
- Wait for your fielders to be ready, especially
if they've just had to run a few pc to track down your latest gopher
ball. Look behind you before you pitch to make sure everyone's set.
- On a grounder hit to the P, throw to the highest base
where there's a force play -- you've got plenty of time.
- Move to cover 1B on grounders hit to the right side.
The first-baseman may be too far away from the bag after fielding to
beat the runner. If you're covering, he can toss the ball to you and you
can tag the bag. You have to be careful about how you approach 1B if the
play will be close.
Conceivably, the same could be said about covering 3B
when there's a force there, but I've never seen it happen.
- Back up 3B or home if it's likely there will be a play
at either of those bases.
- To have a better chance of keeping foul balls/bad
pitches out of the woods directly behind the plate, move back away from
the batter. Since there's no stealing, there's no point in playing as
close as a baseball catcher. Also, there'll be less chance of being hit
by an errant bat.
- If you're feeling especially frisky, on ground balls
you can run down
to fi[st along with the batter in order to back up the throws from the IF.
- ] Be the
fair/foul judge -- if a hit looks like it will be close, stand on
home and look down the line. Since there aren't lines drawn on the grass,
you'll have by far the best view.
- On little dribblers just in front of the plate (that
aren't going to go foul), get a force at home or 3B if it exists, otherwise
go to 1B.
- Covering home on a force: give the infielder a target
to the infield side of home (shorter throw; you'll be out of the runner's
way). For covering the base on a force, see point under
- Covering home on a non-force: stand on the infield side
of the plate to receive the throw, and sweep the tag to your left and maybe
backwards into the base-path.
- If the batting team is catching for themselves
because we don't have enough people, your honor as a sportsman/sportswoman
should lead you to cover plays at the plate as though you were on the
other team (no point in getting carried away and catching foul pops, though).
- First Base
- Play off the line, usually also a few steps behind
the bag. You should be close enough to get back to the base comfortably
before the runner.
- Positioning yourself to receive the throw from the IF
(for right-handers): right foot touching the corner of bag closet to throwing
fielder (leaving the runner full access to cross the base without stepping
on your foot/ankle/Achilles' tendon); step towards thrower with your left
leg (without jeopardizing your balance because you may have to react to
a bad throw); hold your glove up where it's comfortable for you to catch
(to provide the thrower with a target); anticipate a bad throw (then you can
only be pleasantly surprised). Give the C a target to the fair-side of the
- If the throw is off-line enough, it's more important to
block the throw (keeping the force play alive at 2B) than to try for some
super-human stretch keeping your foot on the bag. Move off the bag early
enough to give you a decent chance to keep the ball in front of you.
- Cover the bag (as above) on every grounder, even
if the first throw goes to another base -- you want to leave the option
of getting a double-play.
- Grounder hit to the 1B: throw home if a force (or you really
need to prevent the run); maybe to 2B if a force (requires a awkward little
pivot for right-handers); usually just step on 1B.
- Grounder hit to your right: this is the trickiest play,
since going after it would take you away from the base. If the pitcher
remembers to cover, give her a gentle underhand toss as she's running
to the base (leading her so she doesn't have to reach backwards for the
ball). Even if P forgets to cover, it's still better that you kept the
ball from going into RF (the runner on 1B has to stop at 2B, keeping force
- Second Base & Shortstop (grouped together since
responsible for covering 2B, and there is a good deal of symmetry
between their roles depending on the handedness of the batter and/or the
direction of the hit.)
- With a RHB at-bat, the SS plays a little deeper
and moves more into the hole (ditto the 2B for a LHB) as
shown on the p.1 figure. Without a runner at 1B,
the SS could well be playing half-way
between 2B & 3B for a RHB;
similarly for the second-baseman between 2B & 1B for
- With a runner on 1B (i.e., force at second):
the 2B covers the bag on a grounder hit to the left side; the SS covers the
bag on a grounder hit to the right side. They both may want to cheat in
towards the base to be sure of getting there in time. For covering the base
on a force play, see the point for 1B above. When the SS is
receiving a throw from the 1B, the trickiest bit is finding an unobstructed
line-of-sight around the runner.
- A softball double-play
is much easier 4-6-3 because the SS is already moving
towards 1B as he tags 2B; a 6-4-3 double-play requires a tricky pivot
from the second-baseman.
- Pop-ups directly behind 1B/3B are more easily handled
by the 2B/SS, respectively (they have a better angle on judging where the
ball will come down); they should call for the pop-up early and loudly.
- On a grounder to the 2B/SS:
Usually, it's best to get the force at 2B if it exists, and
then hope for the double-play at 1B.
A play at third 6-5 is possible, but often awkward. Plays 4-5 are almost
never attempted. Plays at home (even a force)
are tough unless you were already playing in (almost even with the bag).
- On hits to the outfield the SS (left side) or the 2B (right
side) goes out about a quarter/third of the way to get the relay
throw from the OF. The other one covers 2B, and shouts instructions
about what the relay man (= the cut-off)
should do with the ball (i.e., ``THIRD!
THIRD!" or ``HOLD IT, NO ONE'S GOING", etc.), since the cut-off's
back is turned to the runners.
- When covering 2B on a non-force play (from the OF),
don't get in
the runner's way. Stand just on the outfield-side
of the base closest to the thrower, and sweep the tag back into the
- Third Base
- Play off the line 3-4 steps, behind the bag for
a RHB. Play more in (almost even with the bag) and more
over towards the hole for a LHB (they are quicker to 1B
because they're starting closer, and the follow-through of their swing
directs their momentum towards 1B as well -- so you'll want a shorter
- Cut weakly hit grounders off in front of SS if you
can. Because the SS is probably playing more
deeply than you, you'll get there first, and your momentum will be more
directed towards 1B, helping your throw.
- On a grounder to 3B, get the force at home, 3B, or 2B
(in order of preference) if
one exists. If you need a double-play, and the ball is hit close to the
bag, 5-3 is much easier than 5-4-3 or 5-2-3. The 5-3 throw can be long; make
sure your back foot is set well and throw off it.
- Covering the base on a force: see point
under 1B above.
- Covering the base on a non-force: straddle the base
just behind it (towards foul territory), slap the tag straight down.
- Get the ball back in to the
cut-off man as quickly as possible.
- Throw directly to a base (bypassing the cut-off) only
if you think you have a good chance () of throwing the runner out
there (one who's tagging up, going back because he didn't, etc.).
The Short Fielder: Depending on the circumstances, there
are typically 4 places to put the short fielder: play as though you have
four outfielders, all at the same depth (for batters who usually kill the
ball); in the middle of the LF-CF-SS triangle (for a normal RHB
tending to pull); in the middle of the RF-CF-2B triangle (for a
similar LHB); or right behind the second-base bag, with
the SS and 2B now freed up from having to cover the bag & able to play more
in their holes (for batters who usually hit grounders, or when you really
need the double-play). As such, the short-fielder gets to run around
a lot as batters change.