Device to help fastpitch infielders learn to have soft, quiet hands
We often hear that fastpitch softball infielders should have soft and quiet hands when fielding ground balls. But sometimes they build habits that make it difficult to make to keep their hands soft and quiet.
That was the case for one of my infielders. Somewhere along the way she’d picked up a habit I’ve seen in a number of players. As the ball came to her, she would raise her throwing hand up and then make a slapping motion down toward her glove to finish fielding the ball. Only it seemed like every time she did that it became distracted by the extraneous motion, and often she’d have trouble actually securing the ball.
The result was more errors than a player of her caliber should be making. Balls would hit her glove and end up on the ground – or sometimes would take a little hop and end up getting past her. Not all the time, but enough to be of concern.
That was the problem. We tried explaining what she was doing and showing it to her, but she wasn’t able to feel it when it happened. That’s when I came up with a solution.
The solutionWhat she needed was something that would keep her hands in close proximity while fielding, and give her instant feedback when she started pulling them apart to slap the glove. After improvising something on the spot to start her, I made a little trip to Ace Hardware and created the device you see here for just under $20.
It’s made with a couple of Velcro straps that have a D-ring on them held together with some latext tubing. Honestly, I couldn’t believe I found the perfect straps just off the shelf – I was sure I would have to build straps with the attachment rings on them. But they’re stock items, and even come in two lengths so you can adjust for players with larger wrists.
The resultsMy player has been using the “handcuffs” for a few weeks now on both rolled and batted balls, and the improvement has been noticeable. It didn’t take long to have an effect either; we played a double header a week after I made them and she went error-free with softer hands.
She’s continuing to use them as she doesn’t think she’s quite past the glove slapping just yet. But when I talked to her about the handcuffs today she said they definitely helped, because she can feel when her hands start separating too far. She likes the tubing because it provides just enough “tug” to help her feel the problem, acting as a reminder without being so restrictive that it becomes a crutch.
So if you have a player with the issue, take a trip to the hardware store. You may be just as pleased at the results it produces.