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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Middle infielders: Backing up return throws

Middle infielders need to pay
attention to this throw ...
and return properly. 

(Photo by
By the time kids get to the high school varsity level, most middle infielders  know that when there are runners on base, especially one at third, they should be taking a step or two up the middle after each pitch in order to back up/check the throw from the catcher to the pitcher.  Should a throw by the catcher get past or go over the pitcher, someone needs to be on it quickly enough so nobody advances or scores.  If a middle infielder is not doing it, they need to start immediately and do it after every single pitch.  No exceptions.

Today’s tip involving this basic responsibility has more to do with what the two middle infielders do after backing up the throw from the catcher with a runner at first base.  The next time you are at a high school game, first notice if the middle infielders actually back up at all.  If they do, watch what happens next.  Many of them will check the throw and then turn around to return to their position.  If they don't actually turn around, most will take their eyes off the runner.  Both of these are bad habits.  Never turn your back on or take your eyes off a runner in this situation.  A sharp, fast runner might notice this and may take off towards second base while both middle infielders’ backs are turned.  There aren’t many more embarrassing plays for a middle infielder than to have this happen to them.  A middle infielder, having checked the throw, should walk backwards to his original position with his eyes on the runner at first.

If you are a runner, look for this mistake.  If you are a middle infielder, make sure this mistake never happens.

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