This week we’re continuing to look into double play feeds from around the diamond by diving into left handed 1B double play feeds. You can check out the double play feed posts for 3B here, SS here and 2B here.
These checkpoints for left handed 1B are similar to what we discussed with 3B. I like to use checkpoints for corner play due to the more reactionary nature of the position. Because the corners are so reactionary the feeds aren’t as dependent on fielding location as the middle infield. These checkpoints discussed below are obviously for left handed 1B, but can be adopted by right handed 1B. The right handed 1B, however, have more specific footwork that we’ll dissect next week.
Back to our lefties. Here are our 3 checkpoints for left handed 1B double play feeds:
- Establish momentum, at the very least direction, with our feet to 2B
- When necessary, establish a clear throwing lane
- Use the appropriate arm slot to make a strong, accurate feed
As we go along with our checkpoints check out how they’re applied in different ways in the following GIFs.
1. Establish momentum, at the very least direction, with our feet to 2B
Starting from the ground up. Our feet make the biggest impact on us as fielders no matter the situation so it’s a no brainer to start here for the left handed 1B checkpoints. When possible, depending on the ball, it’s important to align our feet and try to generate some momentum toward our target. Doing so aides in throw accuracy and strength. How we align our feet and establish momentum depends on the type of ball we field as we can see in the GIF slideshow above.
The routine, forehand ground balls, where our hips and shoulders are squared to home, lend themselves to the most momentum generated toward 2B. On these balls our feet are already aligned to 2B so the focus can be on momentum with a modified replacing of the feet to 2B with a left foot to right foot and right foot to our target and throw as demonstrated in GIF A.
On those extended forehand ground balls our momentum is there and often require greater area covered to field (read as: longer time from contact to field). In this scenario we need to make the feed on the run.
The drop steps, come-get-it, and backhand ground balls tend to be fielded with our feet not aligned as well as little to no momentum toward our target. In these situations aligning our feet in rhythm is the priority. No matter the alignment of the feet at the time of fielding we need to field the ball and align to 2B with a left, right, throw rhythm as you can see in GIF B. The rhythm with our feet keep the arm action in sync with the lower body which can help with accuracy of the feed.
Establishing direction with our feet toward 2B can also play into our next checkpoint.
2. When necessary, establish a clear throwing lane
This checkpoint isn’t always necessary, but when it is it works in conjunction with checkpoint 1. In double play situations, the 1B will be in one of two places; just in front of the baseline when a runner is on first or behind the baseline when runners are on first and second. If a throwing lane needs to be established it will tend to happen when we’re just in front of the baseline with a runner on first. We hold the runner on first and shuffle off the base just in front of the baseline on the pitcher’s delivery home. We end up only a foot or two in front of the baseline. A throwing lane is often already established because of our positioning as well as our natural release that’s on the infield grass side of the baseline due to throwing left handed. The natural throwing lane is seen in GIF C. Should we need to establish a throwing lane it needs to take place within our foot alignment to 2B.
To establish a throwing lane we need to take a directional step with our left foot. This directional step will be our first step in our foot alignment and rhythmic footwork for throwing. Stepping out in front of ourselves at an angle towards 2B not only gets us clear of the baseline but also allows for some momentum going to the target. The directional step is followed with a stride of the right and the feed. Putting it all together will look something like this: field, directional step with our left foot, stride with the right foot and feed. While looking at GIF C, Brandon Belt doesn’t need to create a throwing lane on this play. If he did, his left foot would take the directional step in the direction of where the pitcher’s mound is.
3. Use the appropriate arm slot to make a strong, accurate feed
First baseman, just like the other infielders, must be able to use a variety of arm slots to make throws. You can read more our arm slots here. We use different arm slots to counteract our momentum and/or for efficiency. In these double play situations using a varying arm slots is for efficiency, and more specifically quickness. Often times the arm slot we need to use will be determined by the type of ground ball we field.
The routine, forehand and come-get-it ground balls where our hips and shoulders are squared to home will allow us to use a wider range of slots. In these fielding positions we have a forward leaning posture. With that said, in the spirit of efficiency, the best arm slot to use is a lower arm slot so we can feed uphill to our target. Holding our forward leaning posture, and maybe standing more upright just a bit, and throwing from where we receive will trigger this lower arm slot as seen in GIF A above. Because we’re in a better throwing position when we field these types of ground balls the arm slot can, and will, vary but it should remain lower with a 3/4 arm slot being the highest arm slot used.
As for the extended forehand (GIF D) plays our posture when we field the ball will be leaning forward toward the target. It’s impossible for us to throw from this posture so we need to stand more upright to get into a posture that we can throw from. These type of ground balls will typically require a 3/4 or more over the top arm slot since this is where our posture is.
The drop step (GIF E) and backhand ground balls will need an arm slot that allows for the strongest feed due to a lack of momentum going toward the target. These ground balls will require something closer to our natural arm slot, most likely a 3/4 or over the top type of arm slot.
These checkpoints are very general and that’s on purpose. The suggestions in the checkpoint breakdowns are just that, suggestions. As always I try not to speak in absolutes when it comes to infield play. Doing so can put us into a corner and take away from our natural instincts and ability. Remember it’s important to play your game and use what you have in your toolbox. Stay within yourself, allow natural instincts to take over and apply our 3 checkpoints inside your game’s framework.