Wednesdays Web Gems Tips – Learning to Adjust on Defense takes Negative Thinking
It is never good advice to tell players to think negatively, but there are a few times when it pays off. Good infielders, outfielders and most of all, catchers, must assume nothing and learn to anticipate bad throws.
Good coaches consistently prepare defensive players by telling them that they will handle good throws without a hitch, but to be ready for off target ones, especially on short throws, when the assumption is a good throw will be made.
So often with inexperienced players, the thrown ball is just slightly off line, but because they were expecting a good throw, the player could not adjust. The result is that the throwing player gets the error, when the throw was not that bad, but a lack of anticipation did not allow for adjustment.
Anticipation is most important when:
First baseman receive short distance throws
Middle infielders when turning double plays
Outfielder on all throws, so they are in position to back up
Catchers for balls in the dirt, especially with runners on base, or when batters have a two strike count
Defensive drill – set players in position, aligned with the correct ready footwork, and from short-range flip balls all over the place, some bad, and some good. Over time, players begin to anticipate tough throws and realize catching the good throws comes naturally.
With catchers, the drill should include having runners on base that may steal, before throwing balls awry and especially in the dirt. Having to think steal but still blocking balls in the dirt, takes a great amount of practice