A baseball pitcher does more than just throw while out on the mound. Sure, a 95 mile-per-hour fastball is great, but he must also properly field his position when the ball is in play. A pitcher's fielding mistake could lead to runs. That's why pitchers' fielding practice (PFP) drills are important. The pitcher must not neglect his fielding defense, whether he plays in Little League or the big leagues. A pitcher should never stand around doing nothing and watch as a spectator. He needs to quickly assess the situation and do what he practiced in PFP drills.
Things You'll Need
- First base
- Third base and home
Practice covering first base on balls hit to the right side of the infield. The first baseman sometimes needs to field a grounder, meaning first base is left empty. The pitcher has to scoot from the mound to first base to catch the throw or flip for an out. Simulate that situation by having the pitcher throw a pitch. Then have the coach hit a grounder or roll a ball off first base as it would happen in a game. The pitcher needs to run to first base and then turn about 10 feet away from the base. At that point, he continues running with his glove up at chest level as a target for the first baseman. He needs to touch first with his right foot as he's running.
Back up third base and home on throws from the outfield. A pitcher is the last line of defense from an outfielder's errant throw to the third baseman or catcher. Perform a PFP drill in which the outfielder purposely throws too high or too wide. Have the pitcher back up the play and grab the throw.
Field the ball when it's hit right back to you. With comebackers, the pitcher has no choice but to make the play. He also has to throw to the right base. Practice different scenarios. Have the coach hit a ball to the pitcher with the bases empty. Then, load the bases and have the pitcher throw home for the force out. Also, the coach should hit line drives, sharp grounders and bunts so the pitcher can become comfortable in all situations.
Tips & Warnings
- Communication is important. If there's a pop up near home plate, listen to hear if the catcher calls you off. You don't want a collision with a teammate.
- A pitcher who has good defensive skills becomes more valuable. It could make the difference in getting signed professionally or getting picked to start a big high school game.
- Keep your cool. The mound is 60 feet, 6 inches away from home plate---in Little League, it's 46 feet---and balls come off the bat quickly. There's no need to panic or rush when fielding a ball.
- Remember to use proper mechanics. If you get lazy and throw a ball from the wrong angle, not only could it be an error but you could get hurt.
- Sometimes pitchers don't take PFP drills seriously. But remind them that one mistake could cause the team to lose. Mention the Detroit Tigers in the 2006 World Series. Detroit pitchers made five key errors against the St. Louis Cardinals and lost in five games. It was the most errors by a pitching staff in World Series history and led to seven unearned runs.
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