The difference between a great play and an almost great play is often found in the pre-pitch setup of an infielder. But far too often, young players do not pay attention to their pre-pitch set up.
I can still hear little league coaches saying “hands off your knees, be ready for the ball” but what are they really saying?
Below is a pre pitch routine that can allow you a better first step and hopefully an opportunity to make a great play, and most importantly, the ability to turn outs into outs.
- Go through your pre-pitch routine (see previous entry)
- Start with one foot in front of the other. (I liked to start with my right foot slightly forward)
- When the pitcher starts his windup, step with your left foot and pop into fielding position.
- Hands out
- Knees bent
- Weight on the balls of your feet (not your toes) so you can go right or left quickly. If all your weight is on your toes then your first step has to be forward.
- Eyes go from the pitcher right before release to the hitting zone.
- Having your feet pointing towards the plate is very important and easy to check. After each play, look down at the cleat marks and see if they are pointing at the plate.
Often times, the most important thing for an infielder is their first step. By having a consistent pre-pitch set up, your first step will be quicker and that ball in the hole will not get to the outfield and instead will turn into an out.
There will be an average of 100 pitches thrown during a game and at most, an infielder will get five groundballs. But we need to be ready on every pitch. Thus we need to do the same thing on every pitch. A consistent pre-pitch routine will lead to more outs in a game and more great plays.