These are some tips at the shortstop position given to you by Todd Joerling.. He is considered one of the greatest softball players to play the game. Has been inducted into to numerous softball Hall Of Fames. The National Hall Of Fames for the NSA, ISA, and USSSA. Most recently Todd was inducted into the St. Louis Sports Hall Of Fame on On Sept. 24, 2014. These are tips he wrote in an article for Southwest Softball while working for Easton Sports...
I often feel and play as though I am the last line of defense between the opposition and the rest of the softball diamonds. I guess that this is mainly because playing shortstop is like taking on the responsibility for then it is playing a position. More often than not, shortstops are looked upon as the best defensive players on the field and are expected to perform as such when feeling a hit ball. When playing shortstop you should tell yourself that you are a brick wall, and no one should dare to hit the ball on your side of the field. Keep in mind that even the best players can lose sight of the most basic fundamentals, I have come up with a few tips to help you keep your focus.The first thing you should remember when you take the sixth position on the field is this you are going to be tested.
The other team is always looking for chinks in the armor of the opposition. Generally speaking, they will start with shortstop see if there is an easy target of the middle. I see this especially at the CNV level. Be ready for your competition to come after you every time. To yourself every pitch, "this one is coming right at me." if you do this, you're going to have a quicker reaction time right to left as well as being prepared for those screaming rum balls that come right at you. When the ball is hit at you, stay in front of it. I can't tell you how many times I see players turn away from grounders instead of getting in front of them. It may eventually cost their team a run, but they will still sidestep it.
You will gain much more respect as a defensive player if you take one off the chest that if one it's up in the outfield. Way to keep the ball in front of you is the cliché heard when the player stays in front of the ball and it goes off of his body, but have you ever heard way to let that one go to the outfield? The next tip is playing the ball to your left and right. Unfortunately, much of this skill is instinct more than a practice skill. However, here are some drills which will prepare you when the time comes to layout for a line drive or make that game saving snag of the middle.
1. Lay out a piece of cardboard in the outfield on top of the grass. The cardboard must be at least 5 feet wide and 12 feet long. Standing to one side of the other, assumed a defensive position. Pretend that the ball is hit at the opposite side of the cardboard and died that way with your glove extended. Do this about 20 times per side at least two times per week until you feel comfortable with the motion.
2. Now you are ready for the next step. Stand any infield at the shortstop's position. Have a teammate throw ground balls too one-sided view or the other and a random intervals. Keep doing this until you are getting your glove on everything thrown your way.
3. The next step will be the final test. Get a teammate to hit some consistently solid ground balls that you, trying to place them to your right or left. Practice laying out for the balls keeping in mind that timing is the key. If you have access to a pitching machine, this is an even better device to practice with.
When you finally take the field, you will be more prepared than ever to attack the ground balls which come your way. If you psych yourself up when you take the field, chances are you will start feeling a lot of the balls which were previously out of reach. The last step is bouncing back after making an error. Errors are going to happen to even the best all players. The trust trick after making an error is coming back the next time a ball is hit to you and showing everybody that you are as just as solid as ever. Don't ever try to play in excess of what you are capable of. Stay within yourself and you're more likely to be one of the heroes at the end of the ballgame. By practicing these steps you will gain confidence in your defense, and your team will gain more confidence in yn you.....