Reacting to Throws as a First Baseman – Leah OBrien Amico

leahObjective: To react quickly to balls thrown to first base by infielders and becoming confident in fielding bad throws.

Set-Up: First baseman sets up in her ready position with a coach/teammate throwing the ball from different positions. The first baseman would drop step with her right foot (chest open to the field) and run back to get to the base, putting her foot on the middle of the inside of the base. The foot placed on the bag should be the left foot for left handed first basemen and the right foot for the right handed players.

Drill: The coach would throw the ball starting from behind the pitcher's mound once the player gets her foot on the bag and turns open to receive the ball. The ball can be thrown to the player's left and right. Many times players stretch too soon and don't step toward the ball. Wherever the ball is thrown, the arm and glove extends as well as the leg on that side of the body (glove side) straight toward the ball. The first baseman wants to get comfortable getting set quickly and stepping to the ball as soon as it leaves the hand of the person throwing it, making sure to step straight in line with where the ball is going. When the ball is not too far to either side and is more in front of the body, the first baseman wants to get as much as a stretch as possible, making sure to keep the back foot on the bag during the stretch. The coach can move all around the field doing this drill, throwing the ball hard and soft, and starting closer and further from different positions.

PHASE 2: Working on balls that bounce before reaching the bag:
To get a player's confidence up at first base on bad throws, start out by throwing
long bounces to first base. Once the player recognizes that the ball is going to be low and bounce, she should wait to step and react as she sees where the ball is going to bounce. The first baseman needs to keep her head down and glove open and scoop the ball. We need to remind the first baseman to try to catch the ball on a long hop or to go reach for it and make it a short hop. If it bounces 5 or more feet away, we should not step out, but should read the long hop and field the ball. If it is closer on the hop, we need to extend our glove foot out as far as possible and try to keep the glove on the inside of your leg (not outside of your body). Fingers will be down to the ground and you want to reach forward as you scoop the ball. The coach can throw long and short hops, giving the first baseman a chance to read the ball. The coach should only start to throw the ball hard when the player has success on easier bounces. Confidence will build success. Our goal is to help our first basemen to become a wall at first base, not letting anything get by them.

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