Got to love a clean 3 – 6 – 4 double play. Pumping your team up while deflating your opponent. True beauty when done correctly!
Hiccup and you have just given the opposition two extra outs and likely will end up with a runner on first and third. Waking up your opponent while potentially second guessing yourself in the field.
So why does either scenario allow emotion to creep into what I believe is a true mental game? Sadly it is because teams, their coaches, and the fans are surprised when it is performed correctly. Most will tell you it fails because it’s a difficult play, but I believe it fails because most first baseman don’t know the right way to turn a double play.
Not surprising when practice is catching a grounder, pivoting their feet, and making an accurate throw. I could make an argument calling it practice is kind of a misnomer; many players and coaches are just relieved when they finally execute it. Success is basically performing it robotically, fielding the ball, pivoting, and throwing to second base. Disregarding the two most important factors in successfully completing the 3 – 6 – 4 double play: The Angle and Decision Making.
How many times have you witnessed the first baseman emulating the robotic fashion used during practice; catching the ball and without thought throwing and hitting the runner in the middle of the back. Worse, their attempt to avoid hitting the runner and have the ball end up in the outfield as the runner heads to third.
Once the pitcher commits to throwing home the first baseman has to move from a position of holding the runner on to stepping towards the infield and preparing to make a play in the field. Placing them in a position to line their throw to second at an Angle from the infield avoiding the runner altogether.
Check out this short clip.
The Decision Making focuses on whether you can turn the double play or not! Practice must help a first baseman mentally establish a gauge they can use to determine if it makes sense to throw to second or not. A gauge capable of reacting immediately to how hard the ball is hit when the runner takes off. Sometimes getting one out makes the most sense (e.g. a runner is stealing and gets a great jump).
Sign up for a Video Analysis today. Baseball is an individual sport in a team concept, which is why I recommend every player (High School and College) get evaluated every year. An unbiased opinion identifying the small things we need to work on can truly be a difference maker!
Until next Blog,