Second Base Double Play Pivots

All images below are depicting 2B double play pivots with feeds from the direction of 3B. Footwork will be the same with feeds from SS but the orientation of the bag will be slightly different as is in the picture.

We’ve gone around the diamond with the feeds (3B, SS, 2B, LH 1B, RH 1B) and last week we took a dive into SS double play pivots. Here’s the last installment of double play breakdown series. Let’s take a look at 2B double play pivots.

In today’s game, especially at the professional level, there is increased use of defensive shifting. With that said the second baseman could have to turn a double play from some unorthodox positions. We may be asked to take a throw from all around the diamond forcing the 2B to use pivots that traditionally are used by the SS. For a deeper dive into those you can check out last week’s post linked above. This post will focus on the traditional feeds the 2B will be asked to receive and turn. Those traditional feeds will come from the 3B and SS. The footwork tends to be the same no matter which position the feed is coming from. What will determine the specific footwork used will be the baseball, specifically which lane we receive the feed. The throw will be received in either the middle lane, forehand lane, or the backhand lane. No matter which lane the feed arrives in we’ll use the lane specific footwork within the following musts for double play pivots.

  • Arrive at the bag in a timely manner; prefer to be early over late
  • Establish your anchor location at the bag; what part of the bag you’ll touch to get the out
  • Square up to your teammate making the feed
  • Give a target to your teammate
  • Let the ball travel to receive (catch & exchange or deflect) as close to your body as possible; the ball travels faster than your hands

The Pivots

There are times where athleticism must take over and we’ll just need to figure out the most efficient way to get the out at 2B and make a throw. These are instinct plays that will be natural and might have a different look each time you need them. The pivots we’ll look into are those that tend to be our routine pivots. These pivots include the over the bag and across the bag pivots.

The over the bag pivot will be performed while standing over the bag. It’s the pivot that could, figuratively, be turned inside a hula hoop or a phone booth if the bag was in the middle of both objects. What that refers to are the short, quick steps that don’t take up much ground. The larger the steps we take the longer it’ll take to get the ball out of our hands. The steps for the footwork are illustrated in IMAGE A.

IMAGE A: Over the bag pivot

To perform the over the bag pivot, we’ll establish our hold point on the outfield side of the bag squared to our feeder. Place our right foot in the lane of the ball as we receive the feed. Notice this step isn’t to the ball. Stepping in the feed lane allows for the ball to travel which is faster. Stride with the left foot and throw. The steps should be short, quick, and have a rhythm.

The across the bag pivot is performed by coming across the bag to the 3B side of second base to make the throw. This pivot should use the same short, quick footsteps but instead of staying over the bag we’ll be coming across. The same thought of turning the double play inside a hula hoop or phone booth still apply, but we might not be in the same proximity of the bag as the over the bag pivot. The steps for the footwork are illustrated in IMAGE B.

IMAGE B: Across the bag pivot

To perform the across the bag pivot we establish our initial set up position on the outfield side of the bag. We step across the bag into the feed lane to the ball with the right foot. The step with the right foot should land as we receive the ball. Stride with the left foot and throw. The steps should be short, quick, and have rhythm.

Let’s look at how each pivot will fit into our lanes.

Middle Lane

Feeds in the middle lane will be received inside of our shoulders or directly over the bag. Pivots in the middle lane lend themselves to personal preference. At times you’ll be able to use the over the bag pivot or the across the bag pivot. Some people prefer one over the other and that’s ok. There isn’t a right or a wrong pivot to use with these feeds in the middle lane. In my opinion, the over the bag pivot would be used on feeds from the 3B when they field a routine or forehand groundball so that their momentum is heading in my direction. These will be the stronger and quicker feeds so we’re able let the ball travel a little more. The over the bag pivot would also be my preference on just about all feeds in the middle lane from the SS as well for the same reason. Anytime our feeder is moving away us, on a backhand groundball or a charge play type of ground ball, the across the bag pivot would be best. In these scenarios the across the bag pivot will allow us to cut down the distance the ball travels since feeds from our teammate moving in those directions tend to be not as strong as others.

Forehand Lane

Feeds that are received in the forehand lane will take us into the sliding lane of the runner. Here is where we need to avoid as the defender to prevent injury. Any feed in this lane will call for the across the bag pivot. Using the across the bag pivot will allow us to get the ball before it crosses over where the runner could potentially be. It’s important to note that if we’re always squared to our feeder that the forehand lane will be anything that takes us out over the bag. As is with the other lane, we’ll still try to step to the feed lane with our right foot. At the very least we should step in the direction of the forehand lane. Doing so will help with momentum into the throw.

Backhand Lane

IMAGE C: Over the bag backhand

Feeds in the backhand lane will use a modified over the bag pivot. If our initial hold position on the bag is on the outfield side of the bag, any throw in the backhand lane will cause the pivot to not be “over the bag” as illustrated in IMAGE C. We establish our initial set up position on the outfield side of the bag. We step with our right foot into the feed lane and time it up with our reception. Then we stride with the left and throw. In this case we use the same type of footwork by receiving the feed and use short, quick steps that don’t cover much ground to get rid of the ball. These feeds will have us make the throw on the back side of the bag.

As we talked about last week, after we make the throw we need to protect ourselves by getting out of the way of the base runner sliding into the bag. If we perform our footwork correctly, we should still be in relatively close proximity to the base. Current slide rules dictate that the runner slide directly into the base. We still need to be safe and get out of the way even if we’re not directly in the slide lane. To do so we’ll make our throw and allow our backside to come through. Let’s ride that momentum of our back side into a jump off our left foot. The jump should be landed on the right foot further away from the slide lane. Doing so will prevent injury.

In summary, no matter the feed or pivot we use, our steps need to be short, quick, and have rhythm. If we’re going to sum each pivot I’d say that we need to: 1) Set up at the bag squared to the feeder, 2) Step to the feed lane; landing on feed reception, 3) Stride with the left foot and throw. Both steps 2 & 3 need to use a right, left, throw rhythm. Double play pivots by the 2B, just like all of our other skills, need be dictated by the ball. Have both the over the bag and across the bag pivots in your toolbox so you can be prepared for just about all of the game’s double play demands.


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