Shortstop is a very important position in baseball. This position receives so many hits that the player standing here is considered to be the best defensive player among all.
What makes a good shortstop in baseball? Well, it is a detailed combination of athletic abilities with the correct expertise. Let’s see what it needs to do great at this position.
Traits of a Shortstop
Shortstop is a fielding position between second and third base. The defensive specialist of the field mainly plays in this position. It is the position that receives more hits than any other as there are more right-handed hitters than left-handed in baseball.
This position is highly demanding and wants the player to be smart. A shortstop must be a team player who is good at communicating with a stronger hand and great agility.
Here is everything that will make you a good shortstop in baseball:
Fielding: Takes the full advantage of the gloves
A good shortstop takes full advantage of the glove’s surface area. Many players, while catching the ball, set it parallel to the ground. In fact, the glove should be perpendicular to the ground. It doesn’t allow the ball to bounce up the arm and provide the solid ground to hold on.
Some things to consider while fielding:
- Keep your hands extended
- Your glove hand should relax as the body produces faster reflex when not tensed
- Keep the balance by securing the ball by bringing it to chest immediately after you catch it; throw it later
- Your elbow and shoulder should be in line with the base you are throwing to
Throwing: Use the Right Mechanics
For a shortstop to throw the ball correctly, having a good grip all the time is important. You need to be accurate on the field. For a straight throw, you should always go for a strong 4-seam grip. This grip allows the maximum backward rotation. You always use this proper grip to throw.
After keeping the right grip, you need to follow the right mechanics:
- Keep the glove right in the middle of your body after catching the ball
- Make your shoulders and feet in line with the base
- The back and front side should work side by side
- Use your wrist and fingers to throw
- Feet should be used to line up your body to the target and also to create momentum to get more on the throw
- In the normal throw, your head should be upright not tilted to see the target with both eyes
The knowingness of the Field: About the Communication
As an infielder, a shortstop should have flawless communication with the teammates. There are many things that lead to a successful defense. Non-verbal communication is happening all over the field and you should understand what is happening.
The main action of a shortstop is the right reaction at the right time. For instance, when you and the catcher communicate where the ball will fall, you should not move from your place right away. A good hitter will see you move and get the idea of what to do.
Make your move in the direction just before the contact so that the hitter doesn’t get the time to evaluate the situation and use the old technique to make the hit.
A Smart Routine with Non-Routine Play
A good shortstop goes for a fielding routine. It is the cluster of physical and mental steps in a meaningful series that helps you to be ready for the game.
It makes your body and mind to understand the situation of the field. It should comprise of the ground balls that might appear in the game. The number could even reach to 50 balls depending on your mental condition.
That’s what a good player does, but the smart player thinks out of the box and does the different practice.
In the routine practice, you should also add some non-routine play. You can practice off-balance throws, throwing on the run, spin play, jump throws, back tosses, glove flips, any other play that challenges your routine practice.
Use your time constructively and don’t restrict yourself while practicing. The practicing time should make you feel acquaintance with the field and give the total awareness of the gameplay.
Consistent with Hard Work: A Good Game Always
Whether it is on-field or during a practice session, a good player works hard to achieve the desired goals. A smart shortstop is the one who is consistent when playing. It is not one good game with the bad game ahead.
It is a good game after good game. Things should head towards betterment with consistency.
A good player has his mind in the field. He is fully focused on his surroundings as well as on the game. The on-field distractions don’t bother him and he always gives his full potential.
Other Important Traits
Agility: A good shortstop is speedy and makes fast movement on the field to get the ball.
Team player: Understanding the situation and letting others do the job like second or third baseman and communicating efficiently in the field are the qualities of a good shortstop.
A Great Hitter: A shortstop who also knows how to hit well is the apple of the eye of the team. He practices and does great in both positions. Many shortstops nowadays come as a hitter on the field in the top order.
Strong Arms: It is essential to have strong arms in the play for the shortstop. Clumsy hands couldn’t catch the ball or throw it properly.
Decision Maker: Captain of the infield, a shortstop should be very good in making decisions as they have more duties on the field than catching the ball. When the ball is in the air, he communicates with other infielders about the correct fielding.
There is not just a single thing that makes a shortstop good in baseball but there are numbers of factors.
From catching the ball right to making communication throughout the field, there are lots of things happening.
A good shortstop is the one who abide by all the game rules and gives consistent performance. Also, he has the agility to move accordingly and he takes the correct decision to guide others.