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Wondering how to play the infield? To start, infield fundamentals and skills are a critical part of performing effectively fastpitch softball.

Regular grounders, backhands, double play feeds, drop-steps, and bunt defense are just a few of the defensive skills that you will need to teach your players.

In this post, we will cover some of the essential infield fundamentals that your softball players will need to learn. 

NOTE: Some of the videos below are from our membership site for coaches & parents. This is the reason that you will hear some references to other videos. 

Essential Fastpitch Softball Infield Fundamental #1: Regular Grounders

If your players want to learn how to play the infield at any level, the first step is mastering regular ground-balls. Click the video for an overview of the basic fundamentals involved. 

Here is a quick recap of the essential aspects that you watched in the video:

  1. The player should approach the ground ball in a quick but controlled manner ("be quick but don't hurry" is a phrase we like to use).
  2. The last two steps is "right-left-down" for right-handed throwers
  3. When fielding the grounder, the fielder will form a triangle with their glove & their feet (the glove is out in front).
  4. The back should be flat while fielding the ground ball.
  5. Cover the ball with the throwing hand. When done properly, it is not necessary to close the glove.
  6. After fielding the ball, pull the glove towards the belly-button as you begin the process of stepping into your throw. 

Essential Infielder Skill #2: Backhands

Below are two videos regarding backhands. The first video will explain the simplified (or "normal") way of backhanding a ground-ball, while the second video will explain more advanced techniques. 

Video #1: Regular Backhands

This video covers infield fundamentals for regular grounders. Click the video to learn more. 

Video #2: Advanced Backhands

For players wanting to learn how to play infield at the highest levels, this video is important. Here I explain a more advanced technique of "raking" the grounder on a backhand. 

You can also find another great video about backhanding on the MLB Network. In this fun video, two former MLB players cover the more advanced backhand techniques.

As they mention in the video, players wanting to know how to play infield at the "next-level" will need to learn the footwork that they describe.

Essential Fastpitch Softball Infield Fundamental #3: Underhand Tosses

There are multiple ways that the second baseman and the shortstop can turn a double play in fastpitch softball.

One of the most basic (but most common) ways is with the underhand feed.

Watch the video and then read below the video for a few additional key pointers for using this technique!

 

Below are the main infield fundamentals needed when using the underhand feed for the fastpitch softball double play: 

  1. Your fielders will be best served using this technique on a grounder that is taking them towards the base that they are tossing the ball. 
  2. A player can potentially use this toss at any base (even when not turning a double play). For example, the second baseman could use this on a ball that takes them towards first base. This toss can come into play not ONLY for a double play feed but also simply to get an out at any base!
  3. Regarding the footwork, the key factor is to “walk through the toss” as described in the video. Doing this minimizes the chance of a high or errant toss.
Not Covered in the Video: Infield Glove-Work Fundamentals
  1. The tosser should bring their hand straight up and out of the glove. They should NOT swing the hand back by their hip before tossing.  Doing this incorrectly often leads to very high tosses.
  2. As soon as the ball is out of the glove, the tosser should get her glove out of the way as quickly as possible to give the receiving player good vision of the ball.
  3. Lastly, when the toss is being made, the tosser should stay low and their arm should finish extended and at shoulder height. Going much higher or lower than the shoulder will lead too tosses that are too high or too low.
  4. The video shows a good example of #1-3 above.

Key Infield Technique #4: Backhand Flips

Second baseman will be the most common position that will use this technique. We call this the backhand toss (or “flip”).

Typically, this is going to be used on a ball that is hit directly at the fielder, and one where they are close enough to the target to make the toss efficiently. If the player is too far away from the target, a different type of toss would be more effective.

Click the video to see to the breakdown of the technique, and then read below the video for some additional content!

 

You may have picked up in the video that the backhand flip is commonly used with the second baseman when they are turning the double play, or at the very least trying to get the force out at second base. However, this could be used by other infielders as well in different situations.

It's a good idea to have all of your players learn how to use this infield throwing technique. You never know when they may need to use some type of variation of this toss. It's an infield fundamental skill that all fastpitch softball players need to learn. 

Here are a couple of other examples where this toss may be necessary:

  1. The shortstop is making a toss to third base. This is most common if she is “cheating” toward third base before the ball is hit.
  2. The third baseman or pitcher on a squeeze play that takes them to their left side. (An underhand toss is more probable here but it’s possible a backhand toss would be easier).

The key to using this technique is that your players must practice making this toss at different distances.

The stronger the fielder, the farther away from the target they can be to use this method. Younger players will naturally have less “range” for making this type of toss.

But the only way they will figure out the “proper” range is to have them figure it out in practice.

To review, here are the key components of the backhand flip technique:

  1. Your ELBOW will lead the toss.  When your arm is stiff (or straight) the end result is often a high or inaccurate toss.
  2. The hand should finish close to “should-height” at the end of the toss. Again, you allow your hand to come up too high it may result in a poorly tossed ball.
  3. As a “rule of thumb,” the player's weight should stay mostly centered. Watch the video again to see how her weight stays mostly “in her legs” with a slight weight shift towards the toss.

To conclude, each infielder skill listed above is just one small part of the overall infield fundamentals “umbrella.” There are other aspects that also need to be learned, but this is a great starting point. 

And teaching each of these fastpitch softball infielder skills properly will help your players be more consistent and efficient on game-day!

(By Tim Covey, Founder of Covey Sports)

Have questions or comments? Leave them in the comments section below!


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