Youth Pitching Fielding Tips
By Steven Ellis, former Chicago Cubs pitching pro
After each pitch is thrown, the pitcher becomes an infielder and he must learn to field the position.
Like the third baseman, whose primary duty is to not allow the shortstop to catch anything (by cutting off everything he can), the pitcher should make every play he can make.
The throw to every base is shorter from the mound and typically (you would hope), your pitcher has the most accurate arm on your team.
Also, by cutting off ground balls at the mound, you cut 5-6 steps from the runner heading to the base.
In order to prepare to field the ball, the pitcher must perform a bounce hop to square his feet. The pitcher should then be in a palms out position and be ready to catch line drives that come back. An especially important position if the youth has lost his baby teeth.
While youth ball is typically played a little differently than older baseball, the youth pitcher may or may not be asked to cover first base, so he must be ready. Usually in youth ball, the second baseman covers the bag due to the short distance between home and first base.
However, as youth get older and base path distance is extended, the pitcher will be expected to cover first.
When a runner is on third base, the pitcher must cover the plate on passed balls and he must get there quickly. In youth ball, this is the most important fielding duty a pitcher can perform because this is where the majority of runs are scored.
Depending on your catcher and the situation, you may want your pitcher to field most bunts. A sharp catcher will be off with the crack of the bat, but any delay in youth ball will create a base runner or wild throw from the catcher. Common sense tells you that since the catchers momentum is moving forward, he is the best fielder to make the play, but common sense is not always applicable in youth ball due to a variety of skill levels. The catcher should be the signal caller in bunt fielding situations.
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