The first baseman handles the ball more than anyone else on the infield, aside from the pitcher and the catcher. Because of this, it is important that your first baseman has a sound working knowledge of their position and the specific techniques that it entails. The following information contains the main keys for positioning, footwork, receiving and fielding for first basemen:
First Base Positioning
- Regular: The first baseman should play as far back as he can but still be able to get to the bag before his infielders throw to first base on a ground ball. He can play about five-to-seven steps behind the bag and three steps off the line. This step number varies according to different factors such as hitter tendency, speed of the runner, etc.
- Double Play: The first baseman is holding the runner on for this play.
- Bunt: Even with the bag and creeping towards the hitter. When the pitcher starts his motion, charge towards the hitter.
- Be ready before each pitch. Once the ball is hit, sprint to the bag. Do not look at the ground ball while running. Set your feet at each corner of the bag, with your right foot on the right corner and your left foot on the left corner of the bag. Have a slight bend in your knees. Point your chest to the ground ball with your glove out.
- With the ball on the way, stretch out as far as possible to catch the ball. Do not stretch before the ball is on its way. Use either corner of the bag to stretch for a ball. If the throw is to the non-glove hand side, use a cross-over step to reach the throw. Use the middle of the bag for a good throw. Never stretch with your foot on top of the bag. Come off the bag to catch an errant throw.
Catching the Ball
- Anticipate the bad throw.
- Use one hand to catch the ball, except when blocking the ball.
- On balls in the dirt, field from the ground up. Use soft hands and "give" with the glove towards you.
- With a runner on second base, block balls in the dirt. Come off the base on an errant throw.
- On a high, lob throw, you may need to slide your foot to the back of the bag to catch the ball.
- On a throw down the line, let the runner tag himself out. "Give" with your arm to avoid injury.
- Call off the catcher and pitcher on pop-ups to the infield. The third baseman, shortstop and second baseman have priority over you.
- On a swinging third strike in the dirt, give a good target for the catcher to throw down the line. Set up on the inside part of the bag if the catcher picks the ball up inside the first base line; set up outside if he picks up the ball outside the line.
- On foul ball pop-ups, work from the fence back.
Holding the Runner on
- For both righties and lefties, put your right foot just inside the bag, bend your knees and give a low target square to the pitcher.
- Apply a firm tag on every pick-off attempt.
- Let the catcher know if the runner goes.
- Release from the bag once the pitcher goes home (can no longer pick-off). To do so, take a cross-over step and two shuffles in line with the bag. End up in a ready position with your glove out.
Fielding the Ball
- Field the ball from the ground up.
- Do not overcharge the ball. Wait for the good hop or block the ball down, if necessary.
- Throws to the pitcher should be early. This gives him enough time to catch the ball and find the bag with ease.
- On a double play, do not throw across the runner. Create a clear throwing lane, throw hard to the shortstop's head and run back to the bag.
- If you field the ball close to the bag, tag the bag first and then throw to second base. Make sure to alert the shortstop to "Tag!" the runner.