In certain circles of infield enthusiasts, the term “funnel” is almost taboo. Many look at the funnel as a term used by little league coaches to teach fielding and assume that current coaches use it because it’s all they know. In my opinion, those anti-funnelers don’t understand the funnel and the proper way to execute it.
For the record, I’m a believer in the funnel as well as the push thru. More importantly, I’m a believer in those glove actions done properly and under the right circumstances. This is the basis for the reason I use the #infielderstoolbox. I believe you have to be proficient at both.
Proper funnel action
The common myth about the funnel is that the ball is fielded deep into the body. In actuality, when the funnel is performed properly, the ball is still fielded out in front of the body just like the push thru as seen in Image A. The act of funneling is a simple 4 inch give, plus or minus an inch or so, with the ball as it enters the glove. This 4 inch give still allows the glove to be under the brim of the hat as the ball is secured in the glove. The misleading part is what happens after the ball is secured under the brim of the hat. The hands smoothly continue in towards the body giving the impression that the ball is fielded deep.
To funnel or not to funnel
First a little PSA: When to use the funnel or the push thru all depends on the hop we field and the lane in which we field it. We want to field the short or the long and our feet are responsible for taking us to those friendly hops.
I’m a believer in the funnel on traditional short hops that bounce inches in front of our glove. To get these traditional short hops means that our feet have taken us to the hop. The funnel can be used on these hops while our feet take us thru the hop. If we feel the need to push thru a hop in the routine lane, it means that our feet most likely didn’t take us to the true short hop. In this case, a single handed push thru is our best option. This is the circumstance that the push thru is best used: one handed.
The funnel can be used across all 3 lanes: the routine, forehand, and backhand. Remember the funnel is a simple 4 or so inch give with the ball as it enters the glove. Just because we’re giving with the ball doesn’t mean we can’t play thru the ball. Let’s use our feet to play thru it instead of our hands.