Common Mechanical Errors of a Fielder
Because of the numerous mechanical aspects that comprise fielding a ground ball, it is one of the hardest skills to master in baseball. It could take players months or years to master this skill. Players, along with their coaches, must understand and practice proper fielding mechanics over and over to become an accomplished infielder.
Mechanical errors of fielding are common in players from youth leagues up to the big leagues. Identifying and correcting these errors are the two ingredients to becoming a great infielder.
This resource will cover a few of the common mechanical errors that infielders encounter when fielding. Through observation, coaches and players must first identify the problem(s) and the severity of the problem(s) in each player's fielding mechanics. Once these errors are identified, the coach and player must make necessary adjustments to eliminate these problems.
- "Stiff hands" refers to a player tensing up while fielding his position. Not being relaxed tightens up the fielder's muscles, makes his movements jerky and causes him to misplay the ball. As much information as there is on fielding, players can tend to over-think and not let their play flow. Reinforcing good fielding habits through practice is important, but the mental game is often overlooked. Imagining positive results works wonders on improving fielding skills. This builds confidence and allows a player to relax and let his hours of practice do the work for him.
- The player may also be "stabbing" at the ball with his glove. He should let the ball come to him and field it out in front in a smooth motion. Fielding practice with a flat glove or with bare hands helps to reinforce this relaxed feeling. This develops "soft hands" when receiving the ball.
- Remember that errors are part of the game. No matter how good a fielder is, he will make errors. The best fielders are those who can put the error behind them and be ready for the next ball hit their way. Positive body language is key to reinforcing a strong mental game.
- Handcuffing interferes with smooth fielding and often leads to errors. This occurs when the ball gets too close to the fielder before it hits the glove. An infielder gets "handcuffed" for three different reasons:
1. He tries to field the ball on an "in-between" hop: The infielder should field the ball being "proactive" not "reactive." The ball should be fielded on a long hop or a short hop. This greatly decreases the instance of a bad hop or "in-between" hop.
2. He pounds his glove before receiving the ball: This is an unnecessary complication to fielding the ball. Often, the fielder will pound his glove late, which causes him to rush to get his glove down. The fielder should always field the ball from the ground up. This pounding of the glove also forces him to start high.
3. His glove is too close to his body: Instead, he should receive the ball out in front of him.