In fastpitch softball, first base is a very important position, and these 5 tips on how to play first base in fastpitch softball will help you be on top of your game. After all, every time the ball is hit, you might be called upon to make a play and get a runner out. Of course, these first base tips cannot take the place of solid fastpitch softball fundamentals, like proper throwing technique or getting underneath a ball hit in the air. These tips can help make you the first chosen to play this most important of fastpitch softball positions.
- The T-shuttle drill is tops as far as developing the lateral and backward movements to make plays. As a first baseman, your ability to get back and cover your base quickly is paramount. Being able to move quickly to field a ball or catch a pop-up can also be a game breaker. Learn this drill, and learn to like it if you’re going to play first base in fastpitch softball.
- Find the largest glove that fits your hand well. Get one with a big pocket in the webbing and adequate padding in the palm. Remember, the first baseman in fastpitch softball gets a lot of balls thrown his way, so get a glove that is going to properly protect your hand. The larger the glove, the larger the pocket, so you can avoid getting stung by a hard-thrown ball. The same goes for fielding grounders and catching pop flies.
- It may sound redundant, but always, always, always cover your base after the ball is hit. The only exception to this rule is if the ball is hit in your direction, and you can make a play on it. Otherwise, cover your base every time. This also means knowing how far you can come off the base and still get back in time to make a play. With practice and by doing your T-shuttles, you’ll be able to cover a lot of ground quickly and still force out base runners.
- Doing a “Gator and Funnel” drill will sharpen the skills needed to handle ground balls and make a play like a pro. You still need to know how fast you can cover your base after fielding a ball. To do this drill, stand in a ready position and have someone hit a grounder your way. Get in front of and square up on the ball. Put the edge of the glove’s webbing all the way down, touching the dirt. As the ball approaches, watch the ball enter your glove; don’t take your eyes off of it. As the ball enters your glove, move the glove back slightly in time with the ball; don’t plant the glove stiff, or the ball might bounce back out of it. Follow the ball with your throwing hand into the glove. This is the “Gator.” Now, stand up, pulling your arms up to your chest, still holding the ball in your glove. This is the “Funnel.” Now the ball has been securely taken into the glove, and your throwing hand is already on it, ready to throw to where it needs to go to make a play.
- Know where all base runners are, and where a play can be made. If you are unsure, then scan the diamond; start at home, and scan backward toward third base. Quickly scan backward until you find a base runner off base and throw to the person covering the base they are headed for. Like the other drills, this too will take practice, but once mastered you’ll be playing like a pro.
Again, these drills will not help if the fastpitch softball fundamentals are lacking. Keep your eye on the ball; watch it physically enter your glove when fielding a grounder or catching the ball out of the air. It doesn’t matter how fast the base gets covered if the ball always gets dropped. Good luck, and have fun playing fastpitch softball.