Watch The Hop!
Whether you play baseball or softball one of the toughest spots to field a ball is 3rd base. The speed at which the ball arrives at 3rd from the bat makes it an incredibly difficult spot to field.
A strong candidate to play 3rd will have quick hands and a strong arm. They also have to have steady nerves and amazing reflexes.
Before you take your spot on the bag for the first time watch this video. It goes over the right spot to field the ball from as well as basic body mechanics of the position.
When playing 3rd, the first step to take once a ball is in play is toward the ball. You should also start moving on contact.
You should be covering 3rd when the ball is hit between second base and the right foul line.
The throw from 3rd to 1st is tough. Your first responsibility is always to make the out. If the ball comes your way and there is a runner on 1st and less than two outs, make a clean throw to 2nd for the out. If you don’t think you can beat the runner, then make the throw to 1st.
Even when the ball is not hit in your direction, you still have work to do. If the ball lands in the outfield and the throw is to 2nd, you are backup to the play. Hop on over toward 2nd for the cut.
Here are a few tips from the pros on how to be a better 3rd baseman.
Let's review some quick tips on things like ready position and blind spots. These are really important to learn not only for better fielding but personal safety as well. This video should get you started off right.
One of the most difficult defensive plays in our sports is the backhanded play down the 3rd base line. Being able to get a hand on the ball, if to do nothing more than knock it down, can save bases as well as runs. Here are some tips from the pros on how to properly field to your backhand.
Safety Tip: When making a backhanded play on a ball hit to your right, make sure you keep your glove in front of your face.
No matter how you field the ball make sure you maintain your balance. Catching off balance not only risks the play, and injury, it also nearly ensures you won’t be able to get the throw off with any level of accuracy.
The homework for your spot is observation. There are three key things a third baseman should be observing on a regular basis.
Every hitter has certain tendencies. Learn your competition’s so you can use them against your opponent during the game. Watch 10 minutes of the oppositions batting practice to increase your awareness of hitters likely to come your way.
When you get to a stadium, take the time to feel the grass around your base during BP. This will give you a feel for the speed at which you might expect balls to come off the ground. Also check the area around you for rocks the drag and grounds crew may have missed. A bad hop off a hot bat is not something you want to face.
This one is most important and something you probably need to revisit periodically with your teammates. Learn how your 2nd baseman likes to take the feed. Ask them how you can help them to turn the double easier. Talk to each of your teammates in that slot and regularly take practice time together to help them learn your throwing tendencies and to allow them to communicate if you are meeting their needs on the turn.
Here are two drills for every 3rd baseman to practice regularly.
3rd Base Tag Drill
Every base has it’s own special concerns when it comes to the tag. Runners come into each base differently according to the play on the field. This video goes over positioning for the tag based on where the throw needs to go to turn two around the horn.
Reading the Long Hop Drill
We asked Munich Haar Disciples catcher, and academy coach, William Thorp to give us a quick drill dedicated totally to the 3rd base position. He grabbed two of the Academy’s players and together they demonstrated a drill on reading the long hop.
There you have it a few short tips on improving your work on the bag whether you’re new to 3rd or a seasoned pro.