Ken Krause 2015-11-24 04:07:05
Two hands! Catch with two hands! Seems like you’ve heard it a million times from a hundred different coaches, parents, and spectators. Especially when you drop the ball or somehow fumble with it, which is rather like warning you the soup is hot when you’ve already shoved a steaming spoonful into your unsuspecting mouth. In fact, you think, if you had a nickel for every time someone has told you to catch with two hands, you could buy a brand new phone and download a thousand songs for it so you could drown out the sound of people telling you to catch with two hands. The obsession with catching with two hands is nearly universal. As soon as you know which hand to put the glove on there will be someone there telling you to catch with two hands. There are even special training tools you can use that have the sole purpose of forcing you to use two hands, because if you try to one-hand it with one of those things on, you’ll likely wind up with a face tattoo that looks like ball seams. But despite what you may have been told a million times, catching with two hands isn’t always required – or even desired. Personally, it drives me crazy when I see two hands being used when one would be better. So how do you know when to go with one hand versus two? You could study hundreds and hundreds of hours of video, watching what top players do and making copious notes about how they handle each situation. Or you could just read the rest of this article to get some handy-dandy tips. Your choice. Actually there isn’t a choice. Keep reading. Reaching for the ball When the ball is thrown in such a way that if you didn’t catch it, it would smack straight into your body, catching with two hands is a good idea. But If you have to reach for the ball at all, one hand will actually work better. There’s a simple reason: If you try to use two hands, you reduce how far you can reach. Try it! (I sound like one of those toys at the store that makes horrendous noises when you push a button. Can you imagine how much the people who work there and have to listen to it all day hate those things? Oops! Where was I?) Stand next to a wall and reach as far as you can with two hands. Then take your throwing hand and reach it back the other way. You can now extend your glove hand a little further. It’s like you’re Plastic Man or Elastic Girl or one of those other comic book characters who has the amazing power of being able to reach things that are really far away. My nerd credentials were just renewed! That little bit of extra range may be just what you need to make the play, whether it’s fielding a ground ball to your forehand or backhand, catching a wild throw or jumping up along a fence to rob an opponent of a sure home run. Forget that other hand – one hand is the way to go. Catcher This is an easy one. Catcher is a one-handed position. Period. Well, semi-colon anyway. Receiving a pitch? You only need one hand. In fact, you should ONLY use one hand. One of the catcher’s main jobs is to frame the pitch to help the umpire make the call you want him/her to instead of the one he/she should make. You need to catch the outside of the ball and stick it right there so you get the strike called and your pitcher’s parents get the bragging rights of how “on” their daughter is today. (Can you tell I was a catcher when I played?) The other hand should stay behind your shin guard until the ball is secured. If the framing thing isn’t enough of a reason for you, think about this. If you try to use two hands, and the ball is tipped foul, you could wind up jamming a finger or hurting your thumb, in which case you’ll be spending some quality bench time wondering why you didn’t listen to me in the first place, and I will be in your head saying, “I told you so.” No one wants that. Ball in the dirt? Drop to your knees and block it, with your throwing hand either behind the glove, still behind your shin guard, or even up in the air like you just don’t care. Never, ever, ever try to catch it like a fielder grabbing a ground ball with two hands. First of all, you should be trying to block it, not catch it. But if you must try to catch it, pick it with one hand. Your glove hand. Or else you may just wind up with fingers that point in all directions at the same time. One hand is also the way to go on pitches that sail high or wide. (Remember the reaching thing we just talked about? If not, pay more attention. It’s on the mid-term.) About the only exceptions are when you’re going after a pop-up, taking a throw for a force, or getting ready to apply a tag on a runner coming right at you. Go ahead and use two hands then, assuming you don’t have to make a reach. Otherwise, it’s one hand all the way. First Base This is another position that’s basically one-handed. When you’re taking throws from fielders for the out at first, pickoff attempts by the catcher, or pretty much any other throw, one hand is the way to go. Using two hands limits your reach, which could make the difference between safe and out. Especially if you have to stretch. If you’re fielding a ground ball right at you, or a pop-up, or picking up a bunt, you can use two hands. Maybe on a line drive, although you probably won’t have time if you’re playing in front of the bag (as you should be). But when in doubt, one hand again is the way to go. Rest of the Fielders Believe it or not, a two-hand approach isn’t always the right choice for infielders either. If you’re fielding a grounder to your forehand or backhand, or receiving a throw for a bang-bang tag, you’re better off with one hand. Let the coaches yell. They’ll thank you when you make the play. Same with the outfield. If you’re reaching up to get a ball, or trying to make a spectacular diving or over-the-shoulder catch, you’ll extend your reach by using one hand. It will also look better on the video your parents are planning to show at the next family gathering. You’ll also want to use one hand if you’re running in on a ground ball with plans to scoop it up and make a crow hop throw to get the out at home. It’s a whole lot more effective (and less awkward) than trying to reach down with two hands. Pitchers Do whatever you want. No one is actually expecting you to field the ball anyway. While coaches and parents often act as if catching with two hands is the Gold Standard, the truth is there are plenty of times one hand will work better. Learn the difference and you’ll be a more effective fielder. Oh, and as for the title of this article, Google “The sound of one hand” and see what comes up. Then give yourself a little applause. Want to get more radical ideas like this? Check out my blog at http://fastpitchlane.softballsuccess.com. Have a question, need a little softball advice, or just have nothing better to do? Email me at email@example.com.
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