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We teach two charging plays to our players. One is “gloved” and the other is “bare handed”. Both are “one handed” plays that add an extra dimension to a fielder and a team. Both are considered “do or die” plays, in that the fielder could not get the runner out at 1b if he waits on the ball. He must charge it and throw on the run to help his team. Both plays can be taught to youth players.

The Slow Roller is performed on slow ground balls that get past the pitcher. This skill is necessary because infielders set up deeper (edge of outfield grass) to increase their “side to side” and “short outfield” range.
There are 5 steps
1.        Run full speed directly through the ball Take a banana route if the ball is hit at you or to your right. Pump arms and run on balls of feet in order to keep eyes level.
2.        Get under control when approaching the ball. Infielders catch the ball directly in front of the LEFT toes by attacking the ball with an open glove in an upward and outward fashion.
3.        Transfer ball from glove to throwing hand and gain a 4 seam grip (while continuing through the ball).
4.        Throw hard, coming from underneath and off of the RIGHT foot. Do not be concerned by high arc. (Because of the timing you do not have the time to throw from a high ¾ arm slot. You field the ball off your left toes, transfer it to your throwing hand and when the right foot plants you must throw.)
5.        Continue through the ball (do not follow the throw).

The barehanded charging play is performed on slow rollers or on balls that have stopped.
There are 5 steps   
1.        Run full speed directly through the ball.
2.        Pump arms and run on balls of feet to keep eyes level.
3.        Slow or brake down when approaching the ball. RH fielders scoop ball from outside the RIGHT foot. This is made easier by bending at waist and tilting shoulders.
4.        There is no time to gain a 4 seam grip.
5.        The throw is made off of the right foot from “underneath”. The arm slot should be at a low ¾ angle. The arm action is lift the ball WHILE the throwing elbow bends and points directly away from the throwing target, and then quickly points to the target, then throw.
6.        Continue through the ball (do not follow throw).

Note: The right fielder (and 2b when available) should be breaking to back up 1b as soon as the infielder begins charging the ball.

We teach our infielders to “get to it and get rid of it” as fast as they can because no one can out run the thrown ball. As a result, we work equally as hard teaching our infielders to stretch and pick, block and/or leave the bag to field bad throws. Likewise we teach our outfielders to anticipate these at every base.

Many youth coaches do not teach the one handed charging plays. Sure, they come out of the dugout and yell “come on, charge the ball” after the play, but what about before the play? What about before the game and season? Instead many coaches spend all their time hitting grounders to their players that don’t require them to move much at all. They teach them to “always get in front of it” and “always use two hands”. Though this is good advice on “routine grounders”, it’s not enough to serve players well if they advance to the 60/90 fields.

One handed charging plays are considered by many coaches as “hot dogging” or “show boating”. They are not. They are skills that will help separate infielders from outfielders in the future. They help players with other skills from double play feeds to run downs. At the highest level players that make these plays fluidly are referred to as acrobatic or being able to dominate a game with his glove.

In the words of Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach “Spectacular achievements are always preceded by unspectacular preparation". During a water break, a coach should sit his players down at the pitcher’s mound to explain the charging plays. We recommend he start off by explaining how difficult each one is in order to prepare them mentally for all of the failures that will be required of them. Then he should explain what each step is and why each is vital. Then he should demonstrate how to perform each one (don’t worry, kids know you are old and out of shape. They will appreciate your lesson nevertheless).

Drills for gloved charging play:

Set up 3 cones (or baseballs) along the edge of the infield grass (one near 2b, one at SS, and the other between 3b and SS). Put everyone at deep short (edge of grass) and hand them a ball. Have them take a 4 seam grip and begin running full speed to a cone. When they pass it they should throw to 1b with a low ¾ arm slot and off of their right foot (on the dead run).

Then repeat the process having them run with the ball in the pocket of their glove. When they pass the cone they reach in and gain a 4 seam grip, then throw properly. Then repeat the process by tossing them a ball before they arrive at the cone. Finally, repeat the process by hitting soft fungoes from home plate.

Drills for the bare hand charging play:

Lay 3 balls in the grass between the mound and the 3b foul line. Have each player line up and trot half speed (using proper running technique) directly to the ball. As they bend their waist they should tilt their shoulders, pick up ball off the outside of the right foot, throw and continue coming through the ball (toward home plate). Then they should repeat the process at ¾ speed and finally at full speed. Reward players that do it right by allowing them an extra turn.

Do not rush them to learning the entire play during one afternoon. Take it in steps. Thoroughly teach what, how and why! Get them comfortable with the throws first and the entire play will become easier. After a while they will think “I can do this”. They will notice their favorite MLB player making the same plays on television. Every time your team meets you should fungo these to your player along with routine plays and back hands. Last week we mentioned Wall Ball and the “End of the Line Game”. These are also great ways to solidify both charging play skills.

Note: The charging plays are another one of the “pitchers best friends” (like the double play). They enable him to hit his spot to get a batter off stride, knowing that his defense can make the play.

Note: As your team becomes proficient at this, the shortstop will learn to quickly call off the 3b and pitcher as these plays materialize.

Note: do not hit slow rollers during Batting Practice. You do not want players charging into the batter.

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