There is tons of information about baseball on the internet these days that you beginners can get overwhelm. Various videos of drills, exercises and techniques are also available however, not everything will be appropriate for you especially if you are a newbie in baseball. There are certain fundamentals that you should be working on.
The basics of baseball include catching, throwing, offense and defense. Learning proper techniques in these areas will help you improve your game and take the defense on the next level.
Many players assume that playing catch is already a skill that everyone has. Although you are able to play catch during exercises, it is still not a guarantee that the player can throw baseball properly. Younger players often lack in fundamental skills that most coaches are expecting from them.
- Throwing requires body coordination to make an accurate throw. All positions in the field must know how to properly throw a ball. Likewise, good throwing mechanics can help you create plays.
- Place your fingers on top of the seams to have a good grip over the ball. Keep the ball at chest level and bold it in your glove right in the middle of your body. Grip the ball across its seams and remember to line up with your target.
As a tip, always keep the ball from your palm and out on your fingertips for faster throws. Avoid gripping it with your palm as it can significantly affect your speed and accuracy since you need time to dig the ball. Newbie players are advisable to grip it with three fingers or more depending on the size of their hands.
- Throw the ball across all 4-seams with ’12-6’ rotation also known as curveball. This means, the ball will rotate form 12, straight down to 6 similar its position on the clock. Your feet and shoulders should always be in line with the target.
- Your wrist is also important when throwing a ball. It can be used as part of your throwing motion. The wrist level of your glove is where your throwing hand should be placed. Bend your elbow.
- Stay in this position then start practicing throwing balls by just using your fingers and wrist. Ensure that your front shoulder points to the direction where you are throwing. After you field the ball, you will turn your body sideways then point your front shoulder.
- Compared when you throw at a shorter distance, the motion of your arm is smaller. This circular motion will give your throw its momentum. Let your front and back side work together.
- If the glove elbow goes straight to your target, it is more likely that the throwing hand will go back to its proper position. Always stay in a straight line to prevent your body from working against your target.
Outfield players are almost always making longer throws. To obtain the longest possible circular motion, make sure that your hand is in a drop down position after you remove the ball. In terms of shorter throws, remove it from the glove and move it slightly back.
One of the effective ways to check if you are doing the circular motion right is to occasionally freeze after pulling out the ball from the glove. You might feel you are throwing incorrectly. Practice doing it and soon you will feel it more natural and notice an increase in velocity and accuracy.
Proper sliding is important to avoid injuries. Not because you can slide, you already know how to do it in the field. The most common and considered an important slide is the bent leg slide. Baseball beginners tend to slide on their side, which is very wrong and dangerous. Likewise, most of them will put their hands down as they slide.
All of these can result to jam fingers and twisted wrists. With the bent leg slide, you can avoid getting yourself hurt.
- Start by deciding which of your leg will bend during the slide. Practice it by standing on one leg and bend your chosen leg at the knee. Then, bring it behind your other leg.
- Raise your hands over your head, then squat while keeping your leg bent up., then sit down. Naturally, you will roll back on your back and your feet will come up in the air. This will happen during the slide. When you rolled back, you should keep your hand up and your front leg bent.
CATCHING AND FIELDING
Fielding and catching drills can be taught simultaneously with throwing. Players can start playing catching plastic balls with bare hands. If they can consistently do it, they can state practicing it with their gloves on.
- Hand and eye coordination is very important. When you are already adept at catching and throwing with glove on, you can start learning the ground ball technique. Start by rolling ground balls on a hard surface. Field the grounders without the glove using the alligator technique. The drill is ideal for kids 14 years old and below.
Various types of fly ball can occur to you in the outfield. Thus, you should have better understanding on how you can track down and catch fly balls.
- In between pitches, you can move and walk around, whatever makes you feel comfortable. Always move your feet and keep them light and ready in between pitches.
- When the pitch is about to be delivered, be in your athletic position. It is as if a tennis player is returning a serve.
- Make sure that your legs are a little wider than your shoulder length.
- Remember that you are anticipating a swing so react with what you see. Your eyes should guide your body so will get a good first step.
BALL MOVEMENTS OFF THE BAT
Usually, balls that are hit back up in the middle towards the center field can have less side spin and more backspin movement. For balls that are batted to the outfield, they are either hooking or slicing in action. It depends from what side of the plate the hitter is from. This movement will affect corner outfielders than center fielders.
Below are some theories that will help you track down a fly ball so you can come up with a good first move on baseball.
- If the batter is a right-handed and he hits a fly ball to the right field, it will be slicing from your right to left.
- If the batter is a left-handed and hits a fly ball, the baseball will work from your right to your left or hooking in action.
- If the batter is right handed and hit a fly ball to the left side of the field, the action will be most likely hooking and works from your left to right.
- If the batter is left-handed, the ball will look like slicing and works from your left to right.
The crossover step is important so you can save valuable steps and be able to effectively track a fly ball.
- It is made when you need to go the left by taking your right foot and throwing over your left foot in the direction where you need to run. The movement is fast so you can get to your desired position as quickly as possible.
- The opposite is true if you are to go right. Take your left foot and overthrow it to your right foot in the direction where you need to run.
After doing the crossover steps and you are in stride, use your eyes to determine where the baseball is going. Continuous practice will enable you to find the right spot and calculate how strong the ball was hit, how much does it spin and how you can beat the ball.
As the baseball is about to fall in your glove, do not place your glove in front of your eyes or you will lose track of the baseball. This is usually why players drop fly balls. If you are running to the left or right, follow the baseball and catch it with one hand.
Moreover, run on your toes and not on your heels. Running on your heels will give you the illusion that the baseball is bouncing all over the place. When you allow your toes to hit the ground first, it will lessen the impact on your eyes and you will see differently.
SWINGING AND HITTING
The most common problem why beginners and young players find it difficult to bat in the hitting zone is because they are not stepping out. The effective technique to address this is to have the player raise his back heel and only the toes and ball of the feet touches the ground.
- Doing so will make pivoting the back foot much easier.
- Your weight transfers and remains in the centre of the stance.
- You will be able to focus on rotating and pivoting instead of lunging.
In terms of swinging, it should start downward plane before you level if off. However, T-Ball leagues use tees thus, young players tend to begin their swing upward. Remember that most significant pitches are down in the zone so you should practice swinging downward.
For players to excel in baseball and any other sport, a solid foundation is important. The techniques and tips above aim to help players establish their core foundation. These drills should be practiced regularly so it will instill on the player’s habits.