After dealing with the foundational essentials, the infielder is ready to address on-field situations. The first, and most common, is the groundball. The infielder must understand different groundball situations - not all groundballs are created equal. An infielder must know when to dive, charge, receive on the forehand or backhand, as well as when to attack the short hop. No matter the situation, an infielder must always field a groundball of any type from “low to high.” The glove should be under and on plane with the ball before coming up. When the ball is at the hip or higher on the infielder, he should turn the glove up. When the ball is lower than the hip, he should be in a fielding position with his fingers down, utilizing a supinated wrist that is relaxed with the glove tips to the ground.
Groundball repetitions are vital for this infielder. Movement and activity is the key as each groundball presents a new and different challenge. Utilizing a fungo or even a pitching machine to shoot consistent ground balls are both wise. The movie below explains how a player should first address the groundball directly at this infielder.
Baseball is a game based in time. It takes a baserunner a certain amount of time to run to the base after the ball is hit. The key to fielding groundballs is to cut the amount of time between the ball being hit and fielded, as well as the ball being fielded and thrown. Because of this, attacking the baseball is a vital exercise. As a rule of thumb, if the ball is bouncing at chin height or higher, the infielder should always attack the ball. At the same time, it is advisable to attack the baseball in many other situations as well. Sitting back on your heels is rarely advisable in high school or even college baseball because of the amount of hustle shown by baserunners at those levels.
We’ll utilize a series of other drills to advance our groundball fundamentals as well. Walking through the movements and slowing the game down helps to better wire the infielder with the proper footwork and technique. Walking through could be moved all the way down to slow motion as well, even asking the infielders to freeze upon fielding the groundball.
Another concept to understand the pace of the ball and proper fundamentals is counting the hops of the groundball. Give this simple technique a try and watch how your focus and your ability to recognize the type of hop improve.
Finally, thinking “outside the box” when developing infielders can bear a lot of fruit as well. The final movie of this chapter shows how the trainer for Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins uses a ladder and a medicine ball to build fundamental technique in that superstar.