Besides catcher, no defensive position is more important than first base, especially at the youth level. A first baseman will handle the batted ball more than any position on the field, which attests to its importance. People often think of first baseman as big, power hitters with limited defensive capabilities. That may be the case at the higher levels of baseball, but in youth baseball, that is not as important as having a player who can get outs for the team. Even though first baseman may be limited in range, their glove and footwork must be exceptional to handle the position.
What often looks easy to people watching baseball, is not, as thrown balls move in all directions, with the ball in the dirt exceptionally tough to catch. Talented first baseman save as many runs as they drive in on offense with their ability to handle all throws. In addition, first baseman, who can handle in-the-dirt throws on a consistent basis are invaluable. It is important that youth coaches place one of their best fielders at first base, especially for very young teams. Of course, height is a consideration too, as taller first basemen present a bigger target and additional stretching range.
Coaches should coach:
* Most kids know that first baseman stretch for balls, but they fail to understand that they can stretch in every direction, as long as they stay out of the base line, which belongs to the runner coming down the line. Learning to keep their foot on the base on these slightly off-target throws is a challenge for many young players, at first. Along the same lines, understanding when to come off the base for balls, often based on the game situation, must be taught, as well as coming off the bag on throws to the home plate side of first and applying the tag in a safe manner.
As kids move to higher levels of ball, there is so much more to first base play. Coaches should help kids learn the finer details of first base by teaching the following.
Finally, although first basemen are often bigger and less mobile players, good footwork, great glove work and great agility are necessary to handle the position, with the ability to stretch their legs a great distance, a huge bonus.
Watch for next weeks coaching course:"Teaching second base play"
After playing major league baseball, Jack Perconte has taught baseball and softball since 1988 and offered valuable coaching training too. He has helped numerous youth players reach their potential, as well as having helped parents and coaches navigate their way through the challenging world of youth sports. Jack is one of the leading authorities in the areas of youth baseball training and coaching training advice.All Jack Perconte articles are used with copyright permission.
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