Baseball Fielding - Training
Successful training for baseball fielding requires developing a quick first step and the ability to change direction and move laterally with speed and control.
In today's game of baseball it seems as though everything is focused on the offensive part of the game. Rightfully so, this is what puts fans in the seats and money in players pockets. But are we overlooking the most important part of the game? Look at one of Kansas City's hometown legends, Frank White. He was a career .255 hitter and won the silver slugger award at one time in his career. So, how is he considered one of the better second basemen to play the game? First you can look at the fact that he won 8 gold gloves in 18 seasons. Not too shabby right? Yes, he played over 20 years ago and today's game is drastically different, but how much different is it? Look at the top fielding percentages for each position this year in Major League Baseball. The majority of them are considered the top players at their respected positions. Another example is Troy Tulowitski. He is regarded as one of the best all around shortstops in the game, helping people forget the fact that he is a career .293 hitter. In the 6 years he has played Major League Baseball his fielding percentage is an astounding .987. It is important to understand that regardless of what a player is better at, they still must be able to succeed with both the bat and the glove.
So what distinguishes a mediocre baseball fielder from an outstanding one? There are the obvious answers, such as strong arm and soft hands, but there is more to it than meets the eye. Most people don't realize how much your core and legs come into play while on the field. The most skilled defensive players are not always those that run the fastest, but those that also have a quick reaction time, a quick first step, and are able to get a good read on the ball. Getting to the ball faster enables a player to be in a better position to make a strong and accurate throw. For a player to get to the ball faster they must train their legs and core to react in a faster manner. There are a number of different exercises and training tools that you can use to improve these muscles. I will include some links to these exercises and products at the end of the article.
The ability to change direction is huge in the game of baseball. The ball doesn't always travel in a straight line to a specific point because there are so many variables with a batted ball. Not only is there the obvious factor of wind and weather, you also have to take in the fact that left and right handed batters have different trajectory. A player must be able to change direction and do it precisely to have the best chance to make that play. This also comes into play if you are tracking down a ball and then transition in to throwing. The ability to stop your momentum and redirect toward the target you are throwing towards is huge. Along with change of direction, you must be able to move laterally in a quick and effective manner with speed and control. It does a player no good to be the fastest guy on the field if he can't move with precision and control. All of these aspects together will help you become a better and more efficient fielder.
These links below are for both training tools and exercises for athletes of all ages to become quicker in the field.
By Andy Hilliard