Which Infield Position Is Right For You?
To the untrained eye, every infield position is pretty identical. After all, every infielder is just recovering short flies and throwing runners out. What’s the difference?
While it’s true that fielding and catching runners are both fundamental parts of playing the infield, there’s a world of difference in the way each position actually plays that may not be so obvious if you’re not looking for it. If you’ve played more than one infield position, you’ve probably noticed how different each is, but maybe you’ve been having a hard time putting your finger on what exactly the differences are. If you’re thinking of heading to one of Revolution’s softball camps this summer, you’ll find a coach who can help you decide, but here’s a quick breakdown of the positions to get you started!
First Base: Reflex And Readiness
If you’re into regular action, first base may just be for you. Every single runner goes through you, meaning either you’ll be responsible for making frequent tags at base or you’ll be grabbing fair balls and linking up with the pitcher (who will sometimes be responsible for covering your base when you have to run off it.) Because of the increase in action and multitude of decisions you’ll have to make, there’s very little room for error when playing first. You’ll need to practice your defensive plays and drill heavily to be prepared for every situation. Be ready to be called upon to start or finish a lot of double plays!
One strength of playing first is that the position often requires you to stay closer to your base than any other infield position. Because of this, the position is a bit less strenuous, and works for people with lower energy since you’ll be moving frequently, but in shorter bursts. Since this position is on the left side of the field (when facing home,) it’s also very suitable for left-handed players, and is often the infield position they end up playing. Right handed players will need to pivot their body to face the field for throws, which takes a bit of critical extra time.
Second Base: Stop That Fly!
Despite the name, playing the second base position usually doesn’t mean you’ll be standing by second base when plays begin. You’ll most likely be positioned right between first and second, and you’ll be classified as one of two “Middle infielders.” Since many hits in softball come near the middle, you’ll be on call to field a lot of flies, especially in games where the opposing team has a lot of right-handed push hitters or left-handed pull hitters. In addition, it’ll often be on you to get the ball to third or home to stop runners who began plays in scoring position, or to get grounders to first. This requires some decision making, and it also means that you’ll probably be involved in a high amount of double plays. You’ll also be relaying from the outfield on plays where the ball lands fair and tagging the runners is still a possibility.
Second base players will need a strong arm, and their central position on the field means they’ll also need the ability to pivot frequently and effectively. It’s also less demanding than playing shortstop, due to shorter throwing distances. Second might be the position for you if you enjoy making decisions quickly and being a part of a lot of plays every game.
Shortstop: Get Ready To Work
If you want to play at shortstop, you’d better be ready for it. At first glance, it may seem like shortstop is nothing more than an extra second base, positioned between second and third. But the differences in play style and needed ability make shortstop the hardest infield position there is, often thought of as the key fielding position. As a shortstop you need to be a defensive playmaking all-star focused on fielding flies, with relaying from the outfield, throwing to every infield base, and occasionally turning double plays. A good shortstop is so important that an especially strong shortstop can often still get a spot as a starter, even if their hitting is weak!
A shortstop will be handling the ball more in games where the opposing team has a several right-handed pull hitters or left-handed push hitters. Since there are more right-handed batters than left, this means shortstop will be getting hit at more than any other positions. Since most fielding plays in softball will involve first or second base, a shortstop will need to have a stronger arm due to longer throws. You’ll also need to cover second when the player in second base position gets pulled out of position (which often means a double play may be possible.)
If you want to play shortstop, be ready to work hard for it. Check it out if you’ve got a strong arm, good reflexes, a fast mind, and a lot of energy. You can get plenty of practice at summer softball camps, but even then, you’ll find it a highly-contested position!
Third Base: The Last Line Of Defense
Of all of the infield positions, third base sees the least of the ball. Hits usually head toward second or shortstop, and quick plays require the ball to be thrown to first to start and finish double plays. Plus, if there’s a runner, there’s a good chance they’ll get taken out before they even make it to third. And yet, in spite of all of this, the position of third is still known everywhere as “The Hot Corner” for one simple reason: When third gets action, it’s some of the most intense action a softball game will ever see. At third, you’re the last line of defense between a runner and home plate. If you make a mistake when a play comes to you, there’s no buffer zone. For the runner it’s next stop: home.
At third, the ball will only be hit to you by right-handed batters who are pulling hard, or by left-handed batters who are pushing hard. In these cases the ball will tend to come at you fast, so be prepared. When the ball does come to you, you’re going to need the strongest arm in the infield due to having the greatest average distances to cover. in cases where you’re pulled out of position and need to relay to the third base, you can expect the shortstop to cover for you. You’re also expected to field exceptionally short hits such as bunts, so you’ll need to be especially fast.
Check out third base if you’ve got fast feet and a powerful, accurate throw. Also, since third base is on the far right side of the infield, it’s a position played almost exclusively by right-handed players.
Get Out There And Practice!
Whatever position you decide you’d like to play, you’ll need to practice it, and the best way to practice is with a dedicated coach who can give you the help you need to become the best. You’ll find just at Revolution’s summer softball camps, plus scrimmage games, offensive drills and much more. If you’re ready to be a better softball player, check them out at www.summersoftballcamp.com!