Our 2015 series on learning baseball from those who teach it best continues with this week’s feature on being defensively sound…from University of Dayton coach, Tony Vittorio.

The Three Good F’s…..

There are three good F’s and three bad F’s associated with fielding a baseball.  This week we’ll talk about the three good F’s that consist of fielding, funneling, and footwork.

I will write out some bullet points about the proper way to field, funnel, and how your footwork should work while fielding the baseball.  As you read these points see if you can picture them in your mind.

Fielding

1. Right, left step on the pre-pitch – In the good ol’ days this would be considered the creep step before the pitch is thrown.  This motion starts when the pitcher is in his windup or coming out of his stretch.  It is simply a right-left step with our feet under control.  During these step we want to be in a high athletic position.

2. Get around the baseball – We want to play this game in a straight line.  Because of this, we want to get around the baseball to the base that we are going to throw or flip to.  On a regular ground ball we should not go directly to the baseball.

3. Toes out, butt down – Before we field the baseball on the ground we want to have our feet a little wider than shoulder width with our toes out and our butt down to the ground.  Our back should be parallel to the ground.

4. Thumb out, elbow in, fingers to the ground – At this point, we should field the baseball out in front of us and as far away from our body as possible.  With our hand in our glove our thumb should be out and our finders should be pointed to the ground.  If these two things happen, our elbow will be inside our body.

5. Free hand on top – Our free hand will insure the ball in our glove on top of the baseball.  In the good ole days this was called the alligator clamp which is a good analogy for what we do with our free hand.

6. Button of the cap – While we field the ball, the people in front of the fielder should be able to see the button of your cap.  This insures that you are seeing the ball into your glove for a long time.

Funneling

1. Out and up – When we funnel the baseball after we receive it, we should funnel the ball in a direction to our chin.  This will keep our hands out.  We will not funnel the baseball to our bellybutton.  The reason we do not want to funnel the baseball to our bellybutton is because we never want to handle the ball on our body.  We want to handle the ball with our hands.

Footwork

1. Replace the back foot with the front foot – The following ways will replace the back foot with the front foot:
*Slide step – The back foot will slide close to the ground, in a straight line, to the front foot.
*Step in front – The back foot will step in front of the front foot in a straight line to where you          will throw or toss the baseball.
*Step behind – The back foot will step behind the front foot in a straight line to where you will throw the baseball.

2. Follow your throw – We should over exaggerate following our throws to the base that we are throwing or tossing the baseball.  This will allow us to work in a straight line and to shorten our distance of where we are throwing the baseball.

I hope you can picture the proper way to field, funnel, and what your footwork should be like while fielding a baseball.  Remember that we always want to work in straight lines.  This means our feet should produce good angles to the baseball.  We also want to make sure we are always working from down to up instead of up to down when fielding the baseball.  I cannot over emphasize enough how important it is to follow your throws or tosses.

In the next article we will talk about the three bad F’s of fielding the baseball – fanning, flipping, and frog gigging.  Until next time……………

Tony Vittorio

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