Watch as pro softball infielder Delaney Spaulding explains how footwork and arm angle are keys to smooth and effective double plays. A clean toss or throw to second base is a crucial part to any successful double play in softball. For middle infielders, proper footwork and a solid arm angle can create a great foundation for an easy transfer from player to player. Pro softball player Delaney Spaulding has a few tips on how to get your feet and hands in the right position for an efficient throw to start a smooth double play.
FIELDING THE BALL In order to even begin thinking about turning two in the infield, you must have control of the ball first. Players should approach the ground ball with short strides in order to remain in control of their bodies and to better defend against errant hops the ball might take. The final few steps of your approach should have a consistent rhythm. According to Spaulding this means focusing on: “Right. Left. Field.’’
RIGHT. LEFT. FIELD. When approaching a ground ball, you’ll want to have a consistent pattern of your final steps. “Right. Left. Field,” refers to stepping first with your right foot, followed by your left foot and finally fielding the ground ball cleanly. Using this rhythm when fielding can help keep you balanced in your crouch and set yourself up for a strong, balanced throw toward the next bag.
Once you’ve gained control of the ball, Spaulding says to take your left leg (right leg for second basemen) and move it back slightly in your position to open your frame for a cleaner throwing path to the bag. “This creates a lane to second base so that we have an easier target to throw the ball,” Spaulding says. With these footsteps, you can better set yourself for an on-target throw to complete your portion of the double play.
THROWING THE BALL After your footwork is secure, you can now focus on getting your arms and hands in the right position for a quality toss to your teammate waiting to make the transfer at second base. Spaulding says that you want to open up your arms when focusing on the transfer of the softball from your glove to your throwing hand. “Our [glove side] elbow is going to be pointing toward our target. Our other elbow is going to be pointing out,” Spaulding says. Opening up your arms can give you a better arm angle for the throw while also allowing your teammate to better see the ball in for a clean catch.
Finally, as you make the throw, Spaulding notes to lean back on your right leg (left leg for second basemen) for added strength in order to get the ball where you want it to go. “That way we get velocity on our throw to second base.”
PRO TIP: Don’t try to muscle the softball over to second base. While you want to get the ball to the base in a speedy manner, don’t put your teammate on the defense as they catch. This can pull them from their original footing and make for a sloppy transfer onto first base.
Check out even more of Spaulding’s tips on Mastering a Quick Transfer and Release.
A clean, effective double play begins at the first throw. Follow these tips to turn two with ease this softball season and double down on your infield defense.