One key aspect of infield play happens before the ball is even hit. A pre-pitch routine and pre-pitch movement gives fielders the best opportunity to be in an athletic position once the ball is put into play. In this latest release from The Clubhouse, we will discuss proper pre-pitch movement and some positional keys to keep in mind for your next training session.
Any movement is better than no movement when it comes to pre-pitch routine. A lot of youth players have heavy feet, or their cleats stuck in the ground as the ball is put into play. Our goal as fielders should be to have our feet ready to move as the ball is crossing the hitting zone. We teach our fielders to time up their pre-pitch movement with the pitcher’s delivery to make sure their feet are in a ready position.
Every player is different in terms of what they feel is comfortable, but for most players it is a right step, left step (or left step, right step) followed by a short, small hop with their feet hitting the ground as the ball is crossing into the hitting zone. This small hop allows players to anticipate the ball being hit and keeps feet from being stagnant. This movement also allows players to be in an athletic position.
We also talk about hand position as well since it is important and can often be overlooked. We talk about having our hands in hand-shake position, which is essentially having thumbs pointing up and our fingers pointing towards the hitter. A player should be able to take the glove off of their hand and shake hands with their coach with both the left and the right hand. The reason for hand-shake position is it puts the glove halfway between putting the glove in regular fielding position, a forehand as well as a backhand. It allows players to be quicker getting their glove in a position to field any ball that is hit.
Pre-pitch routines are important and is a skill that should be practiced on a regular basis. Adding movement drills and coaching into practice should be a priority for all coaches. One easy way to work on pre-pitch movement is to have fielders watch their pitchers throw bullpens and pretend their is a live hitter. Work on the right step, left step, hop with their feet hitting the ground as the ball is entering the catcher’s glove. It is a simple drill, but an important one nonetheless.