How to Field a Ground Ball

Whether you’re starting from scratch or fine-tuning your approach, this article will teach you how to field a routine ground ball like a Major League baseball player.


First Things.

A routine ground ball is hit right at you, your first move is to…

  1. …see what kind of ball is it. Is it a chopper, a ground hugger, or in between?
  2. …how hard is it coming?

The purpose of all this is to compute in your head how you are going to get the ball: Are you going to charge or stay back?

What’s Next.

With those two important pieces established, it is time to talk about how to use your feet and properly field ground balls. Remember, these articles are written from the perspective of a right-handed infielder. If you are left handed, you should do it the opposite way.

How to Field a Ground Ball

1. Stay Low.

As you approach the ball, stay low.  This allows you a better view of the hops taken by the baseball.

Also, staying low keeps you in a more athletic position.  It’s easier to come up to meet the baseball than to drop down and get it.
2. Gain ground.

Gain ground on the baseball until the hop makes you stop.  It’s at this moment that you will pick out which hop you want to field the ball.  In other words, decide if you going to get it on the long hop or the short hop.

It is also important during this stage to create the best angle as you advance on the ball.  A “V” shape angle is my preferred approach.  This takes some planning ahead, with the goal being to get yourself in a good position to make the throw after you field the baseball.  

Taking a “V” angle to the ball will automatically get you to the right side of the baseball.  Being slightly to the side of the path of the oncoming baseball means you will see it better than if you are directly straight on.  You’ll field the ball in front of your body but slightly to your left – i.e. the left side of your chest is squared up to the baseball (more on this below).

Finally, the “V” angle puts you in a good position to make the throw to first base.

3. Right, Left, Field.

That is, Right foot, Left foot, Field the ball.  This is the rhythm you want to have as you field the baseball.  It will keep you squared up to the ball, and its the same rhythm you’ll use for forehand and backhand plays as well.

4. Small Strides.

If you miss everything else in this article, pay attention to this piece of advice.  Keeping your strides small allows you to make quick adjustments to change direction, accelerate, and decelerate.

The longer your stride, the longer your foot is in the air.  If you are in the air, you can’t make any adjustments until you land.

Next time you’re watching a game on TV, pay attention.  You’ll notice that this is something that all the best infielders do.  If the ball takes a funny hop, they can make a quick adjustment and still make the play.

5. Work through the Baseball.

Your glove should stay in the “zone” as long as possible.  This means keeping a straight wrist and using your arm to move it through the baseball.  (This is especially true if you are backhanding the baseball).

6. Stay Relaxed.

Hands and feet that are relaxed work better.

7. Funnel the Ball to your Chest.

Once you field the ground ball, funnel it to your chest (see image).   In this position, you are balanced and free to move.  Now that your center of gravity is over your feet,  your hands are in a good position to throw and you can shuffle your feet as needed.

8. Don’t Rush.

Most mistakes happen because we try to rush.  You can speed up if needed, but stay in control.  If you are dealing with a fast runner and you feel like you need to be faster, your adjustments should be made in other ways.  You can take a step closer to the batter when getting into your ready position, or even choose to charge the ball rather than wait for it.  These adjustments will buy you more time without making you rush your throw.