Founder Brain Smith is also a STACK.com and Yahoo Sports expert contributor. Find all of his articles here.
Following his collegiate and professional baseball career, Brian Smith has spent over nine years coaching at every level of collegiate baseball—D-I, D-II, D-III, NAIA and JUCO. He received his Master's degree in Sports Science with a concentration in Sports Management through the United States Sports Academy. He is certified as a High School Strength and Conditioning Coach through the IYCA (International Youth Conditioning Association) and as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA (National Strength & Conditioning Association). He also holds an FMS (Functional Movement Screen) certification. Smith previously worked as an associate scout with the Tampa Bay Rays. He has helped over 75 amateur athletes reach the collegiate and/or professional level.
Every player wearing a glove is a fielder! Communication is the way that everyone knows who will catch the ball. We teach players to want the ball; it is “your” ball until a teammate calls you off the play.
How do you learn to get a jump on the ball? When the ball is hit, each infielder should take two steps towards the ball (even if the ball is not hit to you). Outfielders should take three hard steps towards the ball (even if the ball is not hit to you). If the ball is hit to you, then the player will catch the baseball. While running to the ball, the fielder must run on the balls of the feet so that the baseball stays on the same visual plane. If a player runs on the heels of the feet, the ball will appear to bounce, making it more difficult to judge.
Ready position: All eight fielders (catcher excluded) will get to the “ready position” each time that the ball is in the hitting zone. The ready position is simply getting to the athletic position, ready to go in any way that the ball determines we need to go.
The ready position for Cal Ripken Jr. is pictured above, notice that his feet are in the air and coming down as the ball is in the hitting zone. This is the picture that we want all players in as the ball is entering the hitting zone.
Each player should know what the he or she is going to do with the ball on every pitch because it could be hit to that player at any time. If the player knows what do on each pitch, the player will be ready to play. The player should expect the ball each and every time. I ask the staff to call out players’ names and catchers to call out players’ names to get them ready! When players hear their names called by a coach, the players get immediately focused.