We’re back this week going around the diamond breaking down double play feeds. This week we’re going to focus on the feeds used by the second baseman. You can read about 3B feeds here and SS feeds here that we’ve discussed in previous weeks.
Again, to reiterate from the last few weeks that these feeds based on location are generalizations. I don’t want to talk in absolutes because that puts us in a corner in those situations. Don’t feel like, “I have to do this on this play,” or “I have to that on that play.” Allow for freedom of movement and natural instincts to guide you.
On to the 2B feeds…
Green Section: Flip/Take It
Similar to the SS feeds, the closer we get to the bag the more advantageous it is for us to take the ball to bag our self on double plays. As we get closer to the bag a flip has the potential to handcuff the SS making the pivot less efficient. To prevent inefficiency to get 2 outs we need to take these balls to the bag our self. The specific footwork will depend on the angle in which we approach the bag. In today’s game with the increase in shifts, the starting position could change from pitch to pitch which changes our angle to the bag. From a standard double play position, typically we’ll:
- Field the ball in rhythm (more about the rhythm later)
- Take the ball to the bag
- Step on the bag with our right foot
- Stride with our left and throw
The underhand flip is used on balls that take us toward the bag that are still a little too far away to take our self as demonstrated in GIF A. To perform the flip we:
- Play thru the ball with our feet in rhythm (more about rhythm later)
- With a firm wrist, flip from the reception point with our palm up; feeding uphill
- Generate the power in the flip from our legs by playing thru the ball
- Follow your feed
It’s important to note that in the underhand flip our right foot should open up/point in the direction we’ll be flipping or moving. This plays into the rhythm needed in these double play situations. On the left side of the infield (SS and 3B) and making a play to first at 2B our rhythm is right, left, field. This changes on double play feeds at 2B in the Green as well as the Yellow section we’ll discuss below. In these sections our foot rhythm needs to be left, right, field. Having this rhythm in these sections allows for momentum generation toward our target at second base. Generating momentum aides in the strength of the feed allowing us to do our part in getting the SS the ball as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Common faults with the underhand flip include standing upright before the flip as well as using a full pendulum-like swing to feed to second. Standing upright before the flip is caused by not staying in our legs and focusing on powering the feed with our lower body. The pendulum swing is typically swung behind our body. This obviously takes time, halts momentum, and throws off our rhythm. Both of these can lead to the need for a shuffle after fielding the ball and before the flip, which we don’t want.
Yellow Section: Power Feed
This section is where the balls are hit a little slower that we must come get. The power feed, demonstrated in GIF B, is the feed commonly associated here in this section. The power feed seems to be the feed that most learning to play the position have trouble with due to its somewhat unconventional feeding action. To perform the power feed we:
- Field the ball in rhythm (left, right, field) with our right foot opened up to second
- From reception point pull ball from glove by leading with the elbow towards the target
- With thumb down and hand behind the ball, extend elbow just as it points to target (pull from glove and extend in one fluid motion)
- Think of rolling the ball down a table and follow feed
The proper power feed form makes the feed uphill from where we field it on a diagonal directly toward the target. If done properly, the ball, once pulled from the glove, will not cross our mid line. One of the most common faults with the power feed is a horizontal swinging action with the arm. Many will stand up and horizontally swing their arm from glove shoulder to throwing shoulder and finally to the target. This has a lot of moving parts. The more moving parts, the more that can go wrong and not to mention this horizontal swing is not an accurate way to feed not to mention it’s an awkward movement.
Red Section: Sit & Swivel
The sit & swivel is performed in the red section on balls that are hit at an average to above average speed when we might not have an opportunity to come get it. There are two types of sit & swivel movements that are performed and which one we use is all personal preference. There is the traditional sit & swivel or the hop & pop sit & swivel. Both are effective but I tend to see the hop & pop, demonstrated in GIF C, used more often. To perform the sit & swivel actions you:
- Field the ball in rhythm (right, left, field) with right foot staggered back pointing to target
- Drop or lower left knee toward the ground (sit)
- Open belt buckle toward target (swivel)
- Feed using a 3/4 arm slot
Hop & Pop
- Field the ball in rhythm (right, left, field); right foot can be staggered back
- After fielding the ball, hop and pop hips open to target (feet just about squared to target)
- While hopping, throwing arm pulls back to prepare for feed
- Land the hop and throw with a sidearm or 3/4 arm slot
As mentioned above, both sit & swivel actions are effective and have their pros and cons. The traditional sit & swivel doesn’t have as many moving parts but you may not get as much on the feed as the hop & pop. The hop & pop is the more athletic move but it requires better timing in the sequence. Both, when done properly, will have the second baseman throwing from almost the same body position with the traditional sit & swivel slightly more closed and the hop & pop more opened up toward the target.
The most common fault in the traditional sit & swivel is, like many other feeds, not staying in our legs and standing up. It takes precious time and isn’t efficient.
The most common fault in the hop & pop sit & swivel is the timing of the hop. Many will hop to early in the attempt to be quick. This causes us to come out of our fielding position, which in turn can lead to not fielding the ball or poor ball security if we do field it. Poor ball security or bobbles can throw the whole play off.
It’s important to note that the sit & swivel can be used outside of the Red Section on the 2B Double Play Feed Map. It can be used particularly in the triangle between the Red, Yellow and Deep Red sections as well as just inside the edge of the Deep Red Section. A pre-requisite to use the sit & swivel in these sections is beating the ball to it’s spot with our left side. Beating the ball to the spot with our left side gives us the ability to get around it by getting us in the right foot staggered back fielding position. This ensures that our momentum can go in the direction when it comes time to feed. If we can’t beat it to the spot with the ball in the Deep Red Section then it’s time to use the outside pivot feed.
Deep Red Section: Outside Pivot
As previously described, the balls that require the use of the outside pivot feed are balls that we can’t beat to the spot with our left side. To perform an outside pivot, as demonstrated in GIF D, feed we:
- Field the ball preferably off of our left foot.
- Plant right foot and pivot to our glove side (toward the outfield)
- Use appropriate arm slot for the feed
The outside pivot feed are the ground balls least likely turned into a double play. As a second baseman it’s our job to get the ball to the SS in the quickest most efficient way so that they can make decision to try to turn the double play or simply turn into a first baseman and stretch for the force out. In order for us to get the ball to the SS in the quickest and most efficient way it may require us to throw from different foot platforms. Sometimes it’ll be from 2 feet and other times it’ll be off of just our right foot as seen in GIF D.
The most common fault in the outside pivot turn is simply knowing when to utilize it. Too many times second baseman will try to turn the ground ball into a sit & swivel feed when the ball dictates that the outside pivot is the easier play. The feed itself isn’t difficult but understanding the situation and using your athletic ability to complete it tends to be the hang up.
There you have the feeds most commonly used by second baseman on double play balls. Use your own abilities to create your own feed map. Allow natural instincts and athletic ability to lead the way in how you integrate the feeds into your map. Take the time to practice the feeds so you can upgrade your toolbox so that ground ball can be turned into two outs.