When you watch defenders at the highest level field ground balls, receive a pitch, or even play catch, what do you notice?
Do you see the player’s hands moving very quickly or do the guys look like their mitt is just always in the right spot?
The Difference Between Average and Great
The difference between average and great players at all levels is great players make everything look easy and effortless, whereas average players make things look very forced, even though they may get the job done.
This article is going to focus mostly around a player’s hands and how they are able to make catching, fielding, and receiving a 95 mph pitch look effortless!
Beat the Ball to the Spot
As an infielder or catcher, what you always have to work on is knowing where the ball is going to be and BEATING the ball to that spot.
What I mean by that is this: if you are playing catch and you working on hitting your targets, you will hold your glove up in one spot.
If the player you are throwing with hits that spot without you moving, the glove arrived at the spot well ahead of the ball. It didn’t seem as though the glove was racing the ball to see who would get there first.
As a catcher, the pitcher is not always going to hit the exact spot you want him to.
However, as he releases the ball, you need to be able to move your glove to where the ball will be as quickly and quietly as possible, and then receive the pitch without moving the glove.
Here is a great video I found on YouTube of the Minnesota Twins catchers in the bullpen.
As an infielder, you need to be able to read the hop and know whether you’re getting a short hop or a long hop. Then, beat the ball to the spot you will receive it, and deflect the ball into the other hand.
Here is a great video of Yuniesky Betancourt taking ground balls a few years ago in Spring Training. Notice how his hands get to a spot and don’t really move.
Being able to master the skill of having quiet hands will dramatically improve your defensive ability right away.
It will allow your hands to be quiet, it will force you to read hops as an infielder in order to be able to beat the ball to the spot, and ultimately it will make you look much cleaner and effortless at your position!
I have said it many times, but the harder something looks for you or the more movement that is involved, the less attractive you are to a coach!
Effortless and easy with an explosive result is what makes great baseball players!