How to Field a Ground Ball: Complete Guide to Fielding Grounders
Fielding grounders is probably one of the most basic maneuvers in baseball and softball but is often a hard concept to grasp for beginners. We’re not going to talk about the grounders that rip past you with no time to think or react. Rather, we’ll discuss the more typical type of grounder, or balls hit right at you that require little to no movement. Most grounders will come to you at a medium to slow speed, depending on your position. These grounders tend to give you a bit of a reaction time. To field a ground ball, of course, you will need a glove. We have many baseball gloves and softball gloves to choose from that will make fielding a ground ball quite a bit easier! Below we will discuss some key components of fielding a ground ball and give you some fielding tips and tricks. Enjoy!
Step 1: Identify the Hit
The purpose and importance of firstly identifying the hit is to gauge whether you need to stay back or charge the ball to field it cleanly. You will need to determine if the ball is smoked at you, if it is a chopper, or if you will need to get ready to field an in-between hop. Once the ball has been hit and you identify the type of play you are going to have to make, you are ready to get in to position to field the ground ball.
Step 2: Get in Front of the Ball and Stay Low
Too many ground balls are caught off to the side or between the legs. You want to move (not charge) toward the path of the ball to create a barricade. This should be a sideways move (do not turn and run). If possible, you want to wait for the ball to get to you. Charging the ball just creates more opportunities for error unless the ball is a slow roller.
Bullets won’t give you much time to charge anyway, but you really don’t want to run forward to chase it down. Why not? Your depth perception is altered when you are running, and you run the risk of the ball going right past you. Better to wait a few extra seconds and get a good stance and position than to run and risk missing it. Also, by staying in place, you can adjust in the case of an unexpected hop.
Step 3: Footwork
Footwork may be the most important aspect of fielding a ground ball to focus on. Good footwork can make fielding a tricky hop or ball smoked right at you much easier. It is as simple as taking a step towards the ball with your right foot, then your left foot once the ball is hit. Also, small, quick strides or steps towards the ball will allow you to more easily get your feet square to the ball and make any quick adjustments to change direction or field a ball on your backhand or forehand if need be.
Step 4: Relax and Work Through the Ball
It is very important to relax as you prepare to field the ground ball. You want to play the ball, not let it play you. Always start with your glove on the ground and come up to field any bouncing balls if needed; it is much easier to work from the ground-up with your glove then have your glove off the ground and quickly move down if the ball changes course at the last second. As you are fielding the ball, you want to keep your feet moving towards where you are going to be throwing it. This is called working through the ball and will allow you to go from fielding the ball to throwing it to your target all in one quick motion.
Step 5: Use Both Hands and Funnel the Ball to Your Chest
Your gloved hand will be the main catching implement, but your bare hand will become very important as well. Try to avoid catching the ball with your gloved hand only as this increased your risk of dropping the ball. With your glove on the ground, put the heel of your bare hand on the heel of your gloved hand. Keep your bare hand up so your hands are making a sort of “L” shape. This will keep you ready to secure the ball in your glove and allows you to grab the ball faster to throw to your cutoff man (outfield) or base (infield). See the ball all the way into your glove and don’t anticipate the throw or take your eye off the ball. Keep your head up but look the ball into your glove.
Once you have fielded the ball cleanly with both hands, you are going to want to funnel the ball into your chest. This will help bring your center of gravity back over your feet and will put your hands in a good throwing position.
Step 6: Making the Throw
Now that you have fielded the ball and funneled it into your chest, you are ready to make the throw to your target. Depending on what hand you throw with, you will want to step with the opposite foot, perform a crow hop, or shuffle your feet towards your target as needed to get the proper amount of velocity on your throw.
Ground Ball Fielding Tips
We have gone over the basics of fielding a ground ball, now let’s get into some of the more specific tips and tricks.
Coaches typically look for few key things in a player when it comes to fielding. These include glove positioning, foot positioning and making accurate throws to targets.
Some players prefer to field the ball not directly in the center of their chest, but towards the left side of their chest. It is typically better to field the ball on the left side of the chest as this will feel more natural as you move through the ball and prepare to make a throw to your target.
Foot positioning is key to keeping you balanced and allowing you to gain momentum towards your target. It is best to have your left foot, or the foot on your non-throwing hand side, slightly out front of your other foot. This will allow you to maintain momentum through the ball and guide you towards your target as your field the grounder.
Once you have fielded the ball and you are ready to make the throw to your target, it is important to just relax and let your mechanics work for you. Don’t over think the throw and try to aim it. Just, relax, trust your arm, and let it fly.
Now that you have read through these tips and tricks for fielding a ground ball, all there is left to do is get out there and start practicing your skills! Make sure to stop by one of our MonkeySports SuperStores if you ever need expert advice on anything baseball! Lastly, don’t forget to check out our huge selection of baseball gloves and softball gloves! Now get out to the diamond and start fielding some grounders!
This article was originally published on September 24, 2019, and has been updated with new information.