Baseball | Lateral Quickness
Great infielders are important for any successful baseball team. Being able to field ground balls and throw on target makes a huge difference in the game. Errors are inevitable, but the team that has the infielders with the ability to make difficult plays and keep errors to a bare minimum increases their opportunity to take home a win. The infielders with a great work ethic and the desire to continuously improve are hard to keep off the field. Baseball teams have to have them. Fast feet, balance, agility and the body control to throw accurately are attributes in demand. There are a vast amount of situations that an infielder faces.
They must have the ability to move in all directions in order to field balls that are hit and thrown at various locations and speeds. Body control that an infielder needs come from core strength and leg strength. No matter if the batter hits a rocket line drive or bunts, an infielder must be able to move laterally quickly. This is why an infielder must be ready in an athletic position so they are prepared to move in any direction as fast as possible. Being in a ready position when the ball crosses the plate will enable infielders to be balanced and ready to move. Lateral quickness is the ability to move side to side and is a must for an infielder.
The Proper Ready Position
A baseball infielder must be mentally prepared for what he is going to do if the ball is hit at him or in his direction. It’s too late to prepare when the ball is hit. To be a great infielder good footwork and body positioning are a must. Quick step lateral quickness requires an infielder to be in the proper fielding position. In the proper ready position begin with comfortably standing with left foot slightly in front of the right foot. Present glove palm to the batter and when the pitcher is ready to throw the ball, step right and then left into the ready position. In the ready position the feet are a little wider than shoulder width apart and the head, shoulders, hips and legs should all be facing toward the plate. Do not place the glove on the ground because that will require an infielder to stand up if the ball is hit to an infielders left or right. The goal is to be as quick as possible laterally. An infielder should be on the balls of his feet so that he can push off right or left easily and keep the feet wide when shuffling. Infielders bend at the knees and also with the back. The infielder should think "get my butt down" when working towards a proper ready position. Arms should be comfortably out in front of the body, never resting elbows on knees, with palms facing each other and glove wide open. When an infielder fields a ground ball his coach should see the top of his hat. This will ensure that the infielder is following the ball all the way in.
Baseball Infielder Lateral Quickness Drills
When infielders are practicing, the coach or trainer that is throwing the ball should generally be five to eight yards from the fielder. The trainer or coach should deliver the ball quickly so that the infielder never stops moving, and coaches and trainers should motivate their player to moving quickly, because as infielders tire they will slow down. To have fantastic range and infielder must have lateral quickness, great reaction time, and the ability to get into position properly. Infielders must be able to accelerate laterally. A hard hit ground ball does not wait for the infielder to get ready.
Lateral Quickness Slide: The coach or trainer should have his infielders begin by strapping Kbands on and getting in good position. Make sure butt is back and hands are out in front. The trainer or coach tosses ground balls to the right and left of the infielder while the infielder uses quick feet and quick hands to laterally shuffle, field ground balls, and flip the ball back. Make sure infielders continue this drill with quick steps and the body squared to the ball.
Generally, each player can complete the drill in a range from 15 to 30 second intervals. The baseball player’s level of ability is what should judge the time. If they're very athletic 30 seconds is the optimal time frame. If they are young and developing, 15 seconds will suffice. Be sure to give infielders at least a minute and a half of rest in between sets. This way infielders will maintain quick feet. After performing this drill with Kbands, remove the resistance bands and immediately the infielder will do the drill without resistance. The infielder will get a feather like feeling in his muscles due to the recruitment gathered throughout the hips, thighs and legs from the resisted laterals. This is a great drill for building lateral speed. When the leg bands are un-clipped the coach or trainer should then extend the ball throws. Force each player to move farther laterally than before. This portion of the drill will help athletes broaden their range.
More Drills to Help With Lateral Quickness
Lateral Lunge: Get into the athletic position or proper infielder stance. With Kbands on, lunge side to side with the thighs parallel to the ground. Keep the body under control and in balance with arms relaxed out front throughout this drill. Complete 20 alternating reps for three sets with a day of rest in between resisted training sessions.
Lateral Bounds: Lateral bounds will help build power and quickness in the lower body to move laterally. With Kbands on place feet on one side of the Kbands bag or item of choice. Keep balance on your right foot with the left foot off the ground. Bend knees slightly and explode off the floor with the right knee. Jump laterally/sideways over to the other side of the Kbands bag or item of choice. Make sure to only land on the left foot. Switch to the other side, and continue alternating sides. This drill should be thought of as jumping back and forth in the Heisman position.
It is important to remember that the quality of movements when training is key to the quality of the results achieved during the game. Lateral quickness is very trainable. With Kbands resistance training immediate improvements can be seen in lateral quickness. Persistence, striving to be the best, and having a great work ethic are what great baseball players need to focus on when working to get to the next level. Infielders can achieve lateral quickness with specific training. Work hard today for results tomorrow.
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