Many baseball heads claim that the best play in baseball is without a doubt the double play – and we agree!
Double plays are sometimes referred to as “turning two”, “twin killing”, “around the horn”. Double plays are also known as “the pitcher’s best friend” because they disrupt offense more than any other play.
The ability to “make the pivot” on a force double play – receiving a throw from the third or first base base side, then quickly turning and throwing to first base – is a key skill for a middle infielder. To make this happen, both the short stop and second baseman need to have quickly, silky smooth & soft hands.
Having quick, silky smooth & soft hands is an art, as it showcases a middle infielder ability to handle the ball – a well-executed double play can be a game changer.
Like many of life’s arts, it requires practice until perfection.
But how do you practice having quick, silky smooth & soft hands..?
With your glove, the old fashioned way.
Over the years the “catch and transfer” technique may possibly be the most used and taught technique in the world. In this technique, the player is taught to catch the ball with the glove, and with the bare hand close to the glove make the transfer to throw.
With your glove, the new skool way.
Many new skool players like using the bounce technique, where you use the upper part of the glove palm to let the ball bounce from your glove to your bare hand with a slight flick of the glove.
With a soft hands – /pancake -/ flat-glove
A very helpful tool to have for any infielder it the multi-named kinda weird looking glove called the quick hands or pancake or flat or soft hands glove.
This glove gets its name from its unique design and key features. The flat glove does not have any moving parts or finger stalls which give you limited control over the ball. Its almost as if you are stopping the ball with your bare hand. The flat glove also doesn’t have a web, so the ball will hit the surface and not remain “trapped” as the web allows to happen.
The glove’s unique design allows you to better the bounce technique while also improving the catch and throw technique. How you may ask.. the flat glove forces you to use two hands and better control the ball.
Now the we’ve explained you all that, let’s talk about some drills you can do to better those hands of yours.
Drill #1: YVW (You vs. Wall) Drill
- Kneel down on both knees at about 3 to 4 meters from the wall.
- Throw the (tennis) ball against the wall and as it bounces catch it using the flat glove and your bare hand in a clapping motion.
- As you catch the ball, quickly absorb/funnel the ball towards your body.
- Repeat steps 2 & 3 until you can catch the ball without dropping it.
- Once you get the hang of using the flat glove and not dropping the ball, move closer to the wall and test your skills.
Drill #2: Partner Toss Drill
This drill is similar to the YVW drill, instead of you throwing the ball to the wall and catching it, you will have a partner throw the ball to you at different heights.
Just like before, remember to absorb/funnel the ball as you catch it.
Drill #3: Double Plays
What better way to get the hang of something than to dive right in. In the Double Plays drill you will take your flat glove with you while doing double play practice and yes use it.
You will immediately realise that the only way to catch the ball would be to use both hands. Depending on the distance of the person throwing you the ball, you will have to absorb/funnel the ball when catching it to avoid it from hitting the flat glove surface and bouncing away from you. Or worse yet, the ball going straight through your hands and hitting you.
Drill #4: Hot Shot Drill
In this drill you will take grounders with your flat glove, this will be your ultimate test as you will be forced to move to field the ground balls and definitely use both hands. One thing to remember is that your finger must be pointing straight downwards when fielding grounders with a flat glove. Otherwise, your flat glove will quickly transform into a ball ramp causing you to possibly get hit.
1. Being on knees allows player to isolate and focus the upper body and hands.
2. Hands should be tilted slightly inward, with elbows outside the body, to create “soft hands.”
3. Palms facing square to the ball will create “hard hands”– and rigid wrists.
4. Ball should be fielded with hands away from the body, funneling the ball in toward the chest.
1. The less sound the ball makes when hitting the glove, the better; soft hands are quiet.
2. This drill gives coaches and players immediate visual and physical feedback
3. Rolling the ball to the player, especially young players, removes the fear of bad hops and allows the athlete to focus solely on technique.
4. These drill is appropriate for ALL ages, ALL skill levels.
If you haven’t already seen it check out this video of Ron Washington working with Ozzie Albies to understand how it’s done in the big leagues. Click here to check out more of Ron’s infield drills.
There are a many number of drills to help you better your hands and fielding ability. But the fact remains, if you do not practice – you will not improve. With a flat glove, you should always practice at game speed as this will help you better adjust to the flat glove, using the right technique to get soft hands and the transition back to your regular fielding glove.
The final thing to consider is that a flat glove is a great tool to have no matter your experience or playing level. It’s a tool that you can use every time you go to the field, either to help perfect the skills you already have or to learn new ones. Flat glove can be used during the winter months when working on fundamentals or in the spring during pregame training.