Ground ball is hit at us. We get outside of the ball, establish great rhythm with our feet, arrive into a textbook fielding position with our right, left, field footwork. It’s at this very moment that the fielding triangle is present. The fielding triangle is a term that refers to the setup of the feet as well as our glove hand in relation to the baseball as it approaches, just before and as we field it on a routine ground ball. Image A is a very basic, even rudimentary, setup for the fielding triangle.
I say the picture is rudimentary due to the fact that it’s not perfect. It’s there for a basic illustration of what we’re talking about. The idea is that our feet are the bottom two points of the triangle and the ball/our glove is the top point. Despite popular belief, the glove/ball should not be splitting the feet or directly in the middle of our body. The proper position of the glove, or the approaching ball, should be slightly off centered to the glove side. The goal should be to field the ball “off our left eye” or even with our left shoulder, which is illustrated by the white dotted lines on Image B. This position, which I refer to as the slot, is a natural position for our arm and hand to be loose and comfortable while fielding. This is the routine lane, which can be read about in more detail here.
Any ball that we can’t get to, or choose not to field, in the slot enters the forehand or backhand lanes. These lanes will be one handed fielding lanes. As the ball gets closer to the center of our body or even further to the right should be a backhand play, while a ball that gets closer to our left foot or even outside of our left foot should be a forehand play. As the ball enters these different lanes, the fielding triangle will be different if it is present at all. Sometimes the ball places demands on us that don’t allow for perfect fielding positions. At this point we need to be athletic and make the play.
The last point to make about the fielding triangle is the depth at which the top point, or glove/ball, should be. Oftentimes, inexperienced fielders get the top point of the fielding triangle too deep into the body. Our glove should establish the top point out in front, or at the very deepest, under the bill of our hat. This depth allows us to field the ball out in front, which keeps the ball, our glove, and our eyes in line. In turn, we are able to watch the ball all the way into the glove. Think of the glove as the sight of a gun. The sight allows us to aim. The glove should allow us to zero in on the ball in order to field.
Using the fielding triangle set up is a luxury that we have on routine groundballs; it’s the ideal fielding position. When the ball moves outside of the slot, the routine lane, our fielding triangle also changes. Biggest takeaways are the alignment of the feet, squared or left just in front of right, and the depth of the glove/ball as we field it, under the brim of our hat. Arriving into this position in rhythm will set us up to be successful fielding in the routine lane.