The defensive skills of the first baseman are often taken for granted. This position is the most under-rated defensive position on a team. The defensive skills of a good first baseman can often make the difference in winning a championship.
Set & Ready Position – With No Runners On Base
- The first baseman positions himself approximately 15 to 20 feet behind first base and about 10 feet from the line. This is the normal positioning when a bunt is not anticipated and there are no runners on base.
- Weight slightly forward, left foot in front three or four inches, knees slightly bent and weight up on the balls of the feet.
- Glove held waist high, open, facing toward the batter.
- Always check with the second baseman to make sure there is no mix up on ground balls hit to the right side of the infield.
- Always focus your eyes into the strike zone, assuming that the ball will be hit in your direction.
Set & Ready Position – Holding The Runner On
The purpose of this position is to receive the pitcher’s pick-off throw and apply a quick tag. Secondly, if the pitcher throws to home, moving into position to field the ball.
- Touch the inside of the bag with your right foot and stretch out with your glove hand, making an inviting target for the pitcher to throw to.
- When the pitcher throws over, catch the ball and apply a tag with a sweeping motion.
- If the pitcher throws towards the plate, move quickly into a position to field the ball.
Fielding Balls Hit To The Left Of The Pitcher
It is the pitcher’s responsibility to cover first base when the first baseman has to field the ball. Always make an unassisted putout when you can. When relaying the ball to the pitcher, the following tips will help avoid errors.
- Wave the pitcher off before making an unassisted putout.
- When sprinting to the bag, hold onto the ball in your bare hand. You will have better control and the ball will not fall out of your glove, since you do not have to apply a tag.
- You can toss the ball to the pitcher quicker if you have to.
- When relaying the ball to the pitcher, use the underhand shovel type release.
- Throw the ball at the bag so the pitcher can catch the ball chest-high as he crosses the bag.
- After releasing the ball to the pitcher, you must give him directions if there are other runners on base.
- When fielding balls that are hit to right, plant your pivot foot and make an overhand throw to the pitcher.
- Communicate with your pitcher. It is his responsibility to field all ground balls that he can get to. Make sure you cover the bag if he fields any balls. Remind him constantly to let you know what his intentions are before it is too late. On critical plays he must yell loud when he is fielding the ball.
This tip was contributed by Scoreboard Canada, a Web site that publishes thorough sections of baseball instruction and ideas.