Without a doubt the most debated topic in infield play is the question, “Do you funnel or push thru?” There are strong proponents on both sides. This is the political affiliation equivalent of baseball defense. Before I give you my thoughts, lets define the terms funnel and push thru so we’re all on the same page.
The funnel is a glove action that gives with the ball in the direction the ball is traveling while the fielder receives a ground ball.
The push thru is a glove action that goes against the direction the ball has just traveled while the fielder receives the ground ball.
So now that we’re all on the same page on the funnel and push thru terms, do we funnel or push thru a ground ball? … YES!
This is the ultimate example of the #infielderstoolbox. Both the funnel and push thru need to be in the toolbox so that the fielder can be prepared for whatever the situation demands. I’m a strong believer of letting the ball dictate what we need to do as infielders. In this case, the hop of the ball and our footwork will dictate the funnel or push thru.
Hops are categorized into 1 of 4 categories.
- Short hop
- In-between short hop
- In-between long hop
- Long hop
These hops describe the last hop the ball takes before the fielder fields the ball. They describe the distance away from the fielder as well as the subsequent height the ball will potentially be as it gets to the fielder. You can read more about hops here.
The short hop and the long hop are the friendly hops that the fielder must seek out to field. The in-between short hop must be attacked to turn into a shorter hop and the in-between long hop must be given space via drop step to increase the hop distance turning it into a long hop. The debate of the funnel or push thru focuses on the short hop and the in-between short hop.
So how do the funnel and push thru fit into the hop types? To put it simply, if our feet take us to the traditional short hop, we funnel, and when our feet don’t, we push thru. So if you read between the lines, the feet and ball dictate when we use each glove action.
“… if our feet take us to the traditional short hop, we funnel, and when our feet don’t, we push thru.”
We should aim to use as little glove action, or movement, as possible when fielding. This leads to a soft, quiet, smooth, and quick glove which in itself is the funneling action. I view the push thru as a 1 handed action and save it for its primary use in the forehand and backhand lanes. In the routine lane, it’s more of a “life jacket” that’s used in case of emergencies, meaning when our feet don’t take us to the friendly short hop. The push thru is great for cutting down the hop because of its freedom of movement using 1 hand and is, therefore, best suited for those situations when we have to make up for our feet’s shortcomings.
Too often, people think that they need to be either a funneler or a push thru’er (making words up as I go). Why not have both in your toolbox? The above information is what works for me, and in my opinion is what the elite level infielders do on a regular basis. If our feet take us to the short hop, funnel, and if they don’t, push thru. Keep it simple and make plays!