Angles for pitchers when covering first base
When pitchers practice covering first base during PFP (Pitchers Fielding Practice) drills, they often are instructed to take an ideal path and angle to first as shown in this photo …
The reason for this is that going to an imaginary spot about 6-8 feet from first base, making a slight left turn, and moving inside the line to the base has some advantages.
- It keeps the pitcher from crossing the foul line before getting to the bag and possibly making contact with the runner.
- It allows the pitcher to approach the bag with his body in a more squared position to the guy throwing it to him.
- It allows the pitcher to continue moving towards right field after touching the base and not crossing the bag and into the runner.
But how often do you see a play develop exactly as planned? The above photo assumes the pitcher finishes his pitch in the middle of the mound and perfectly balanced. What if he is a lefty and falls to the third base side after the pitch? If this happens, his path will probably look a lot like this …
And what if the ball is chopped high in the air to the first base side and the pitcher’s first instinct is to go for the ball? In this case, his path will probably look something like this …
My point is this … In game situations the pitcher’s primary focus needs to be to get to the bag as soon as he can. Sometimes he will get there in plenty of time and be able to take the ideal path. Sometimes he won’t have a lot of time and may need to just take the straight line path.
Because anything can happen, it becomes important to practice all the various paths pitchers can take to first base. In reality, the path to first base really doesn’t matter as much as what the pitcher does after he touches first base. No matter what path is taken, you want your pitchers to avoid crossing over into the runner’s path before or after the play.
If he gets to the bag, makes the catch, gets the out, and avoids the runner … it’s all good.
Tomorrow’s post: Awareness Game #1