One “Step” for More Rhythm & Flow Thru the Groundball

Effective infield play is all about rhythm and momentum. Watching infielders with elite rhythm and momentum is like watching poetry in motion. They’re smooth and they flow through the groundball into the throw, and it’s flat out pretty to watch when it’s done properly. Often, when an infielder lacks flow, the main reason is a lack of rhythm and momentum. It’s important for the infielder to flow through the reception of the groundball. To do this, elite infielders use what I call the “rocker step.”

What is a Rocker Step?

The rocker step is a heel to toe rocking action of the glove side foot as we field a groundball.

How is it performed? Timing?

GIF B
GIF A

As we settle into a fielding position with our “right, left, field” footwork, the rocker step is performed. When the left foot comes into contact with the ground, it’s the heel that touches down first with the toes up in the air. The exact timing of the rock will depend on the individual and/or the demands that the groundball places on us. Some get their heel down on the ball-glove contact (GIF A) while others get their heel down and then the toes rock down at ball-glove contact (GIF B). I don’t believe there’s a right or a wrong way to do it, although the toes down at ball-glove contact is used most often. Using the toe rocking down at contact timing tends to give us more balance in the fielding position because it allows for both feet to be in contact with the ground, in one way or another. This gives us a firm base to field the ball with a little more wiggle room for error. Alternatively, the heel down at ball-glove contact means that one foot is up in the air until the last second, which means the timing and efficiency with the step needs to be just about perfect, which is why Francisco Lindor is able to pull it off. It’s important to note that the direction of the toes will aide in establishing our direction post reception with either technique. Aim to rock your toes down in the direction of your target.

Purpose of the Rocker Step

The properly timed rocker step allows us to maintain our momentum through the ball toward our target. This momentum was generated in our approach to the ball and needs a bridge to carry it over into the throw. The rocker step is the bridge that carries that momentum. With proper rhythm, that momentum flows from the approach, is maintained during the field phase, and then carried out in the throw.

Is the Rocker Step lane specific?

The rocker step can and should be used across all fielding lanes: Routine/2 Hand lane, Backhand lane, and the Forehand lane. No matter the lane, we must be able to field the ball in rhythm and establish momentum toward our target in order to use the rocker step. The balls that require us to “sell out” or extend for don’t lend themselves to the rocker due to lack of target directed momentum. Understanding the difference in these balls based on our individual ability is a learning process and comes with practice.

Backhand Lane Rocker
2 Hand Lane Rocker
Forehand Lane(ish) Rocker

Rocker Step Drill Progression

  • Dry-Rocker
    • Focus on posture and the rocker step action
    • Place ball on the ground, arrive right, left in a rocker and hold fielding position
  • Stationary Ball-Rocker
    • Maintain posture and incorporate timing
    • Place ball on the ground, arrive right, left in a rocker and pick up the ball as left foot toes touch down, stop shy of replacing feet to your target
  • Rolled/Bounced Ball-Rocker
    • Focus on posture, rocker action, and timing
    • Roll/bounce ball at fielder, arrive right, left in a rocker and field the ball as the left toes touch down, stop shy of replacing feet to your target
  • Stationary Ball-Rocker & Replace
    • Focus on posture, rocker action, and timing with momentum flow
    • Place ball on the ground, arrive right, left in a rocker and pick up the ball as left foot toes touch down, replace feet to target
  • Rolled/Bounced Ball-Rocker & Replace
    • Focus on posture, rocker action, and timing with momentum flow
    • Roll/bounce ball at fielder, arrive right, left in a rocker and field the ball as the left toes touch down, replace feet to target
  • Fungos
    • Focus on game speed acclimatization
      • timing of rocker in relation to ball reception in whole fielding process
    • Put it all together while taking a ball off the bat

If needed when learning the rocker step, exaggerate the set up and/or motion during the dry and stationary ball work by using a pause or hold at the ball-glove contact. This gets the movement patterns of the rocker step ingrained but can interfere with the fielding momentum due to the fact you’re not fielding through the ball. As you become more comfortable with the action, the focus can shift to the correct rhythm, momentum and flow by fielding through the ball and replacing your feet.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s