The thing about the double play is that it’s taught many different ways. I’ll try to talk about a lot of what I have been taught and why I either like it or don’t like it and the reasoning for that.
First thing, we should talk about is the mindset of the the double play and what we want to accomplish. Someone that is relatively new to baseball would say, “Well, you obviously want to get two outs with one ground ball.” I totally agree with this person.
I think that all too often, coaches (especially in the younger levels), accept the idea that one out is good enough in a double play situation. This seems crazy to me. Double plays are something that should be taken advantage of. Your kids should look forward to them because they’re one of the coolest plays in baseball.
I’m not saying that every double play situation should be completed to perfection. I am saying however, that the routine double play should be completed by ages thirteen and up on a regular basis. This is an expectation that needs to be laid out by the coaches very early. Everyone knows the value of the double play. So, why not stress it’s importance and devote ALOT MORE practice time to it?
Why get one out when you can get two? It’s the coaches job to install this mindset with the players.
Let’s get started. I have concentrated this entire post to be about the feeds and the flips leading into the double play. I will post another post shortly about receiving the double play.
I’ve broken down the double play into five parts for this post to make it as easy as possible.
- SS (Short Stop) Flip
- SS Feed
- 2B (Second Base) Flip
- 2B Feed
- 3B (Third Base) Feed
SS Flip – The SS flip is your generic “taylor made” double play. This should be one of the easiest and most consistent double plays turned on any team. For those of you that are relatively new to coaching, the flip is an underhand toss to the second baseman.
The first thing that I want to talk about with the SS flip is foot positioning. The foot positioning is a little different from a routine ground ball. We teach dropping the left foot slightly behind the right foot. We do this for a couple of reasons.
When you drop the left foot back slightly, the right shoulder will naturally be in front of the left shoulder (relative to the plate) creating an unblocked path directly to second base. This eliminates and extra step.
The second reason we do this is to help with clearing the glove hand. Clearing the glove hand is when the fielder makes sure to get the glove hand out of the way as he’s flipping the ball. A lot of younger kids will try to flip the ball with a two arm motion. This makes it hard to see for the second baseman receiving the ball, as well as creates the chance for more errors.
The footwork for a flip from SS is Right, Left, Field, Right, Left, Flip, and follow the flip. People will argue this, and there are definitely times that you can cut out the second set of Right, Left steps, but believe me, especially with younger kids, this will help with the timing and the accuracy of the flip in a huge way.
This is a good transition into maintenance of depth throughout the SS flip. I talk about the exactly what depth is in the Correct Fielding Position post. The reason that you want to maintain depth throughout the flip is because it’s easier to field the ball clean and come out of fielding position more smoothly, and it also creates a flat flip. We always want flat flips and feeds because it is easier for the fielder receiving to judge and turn the double play with a flip or a feed thats flat as opposed to a flip or feed that has tilt.
Now as the SS fields the ball and transitions into the flip the glove hand should vacate and the flipping arm should be straight without backswing (backswing is an unnecessary load of the arm to create a harder flip). You’ll probably encounter this with a lot of the younger kids. The way to prevent this is to stress the importance of following the flip. You get your momentum on the ball with your legs, not your flipping arm. If you refer to the video above I am always following my flip towards second base. As the arm starts to go towards second base so does the back leg. You want the fielder to follow their flip for at least two or three steps towards second base.
Checklist for SS Flip
- Left Eye
- Foot Positioning (Left slightly behind right)
- Depth Maintenance
- Vacate glove hand
- Straight arm flip with no backswing
- Follow Flip
SS Feed – Now onto the feed from the shortstop. We refer to a feed as anything that’s not a flip. Any ball more than one step to the SS’s right should be fed. There are a lot of similarities to the flip.
First, we want the same foot positioning (left behind right) as with the flip. We want this to get the shoulders square to second base. It makes the throw easier and prevents the fielder from having to throw across his body. Honestly, I would say that the left behind right needs to be a little more drastic than with the flip.
Next, we want the maintenance of depth as well, just like in the flip. It’s important here because if the fielder stands up straight as opposed to staying down, he will create tilt on the ball which we want to avoid. We do this because it’s quicker, creates a better feed, and requires the least movement.
So, as we’re transitioning into the throw we do something that we refer to as the rock. We still have our left foot timing as with any ground ball. So our weight will be on the left foot as we field the ball. As the ball is fielded the weight will shift from the left foot to the right foot. We maintain our depth and deliver the feed to 2b.
So if we do everything correctly from above we will create a tilt of the shoulders that may make it look like we are feeding the ball sidearm or almost submarine. This is what we want. We do not want the fielder to stand up and feed the ball. The more depth the quicker it will be as well as more accurate.
- Foot Positioning
- Left Eye
- Left Foot Timing
- Depth Maintenance
- Shoulder Tilt
2B Flip – The flip from second base is a little different from anything that we have talked about on this website. It is the exception for a couple of things.
The first thing is the sequence that the feet land in. Instead of the feet landing right first then left, we will do the opposite. We want the feet to land left first then right. We do this because the destination of the flip from second base is opposite of any other ground ball infielders will take. We also do this because we’ve found that it creates a better rhythm with the feet of the second baseman and makes the transition into the flip much easier. So instead of doing left foot timing we will do right foot timing (right foot hits as or right before the ball touches the glove). We want the left foot in front of the right to square the shoulders towards second base better. We can still field the ball on the left eye for the 2B flip.
A couple underhand flips and a backhand flip.
Once we field the ball we’ll maintain depth, vacate the glove hand, keep the flip arm straight (without backswing), and follow our flip to second base. There are two flips used from second base that we teach. The main thing with both flips used is to remember to create flat flips. The first is the conventional underhand flip. For the ball one step to the 2B’s left, we like to use the backhand flip. The thing to remember with the backhand flip is the footwork is the same but the elbow of the flipping arm HAS to be above the ball to create a flat and consistent flip. Also, the fielder has to follow to flip to avoid loopy flips.
- Depth Maintenance
- Left, Right Seqence
- Feet Position (Left in front of right)
- Right Foot Timing
- Straight Arm Flip
- Vacate Glove Hand
- Straight Arm Flip (Underhand)
- Elbow up, Follow Elbow (Backhand Flip)
- Follow Flip
2B Feed – The feed from second base is also quite different from anything taught to this point on this website.
The main difference of the feed from second base is that we are going to want to field the ball on the RIGHT EYE. The reason that we want it on the right eye is because it’s an easier transition into the feed as opposed to when we field it left eye. Also, if we happen to have a deflection of the ball from not fielding it cleanly, it will most likely deflect toward the base that we are trying to get the out at (second base). We sacrifice the give (with the glove hand) that we have when we field it left eye to make the transition smoother.
A couple of routine feeds above, then a couple of the spin feed.
The foot positioning will be a more drastic left in front of right to get our shoulders squared with second base. We want to field the ball further back in the stance as well, closer to the right foot to make the transition into the feed quicker.
Once the ball is fielded and we are transitioning into the throw we want to really concentrate on our maintenance of depth. Our feet will pivot and be square to second base. We will have our depth and feed the ball with our tilt (talked about above).
Some coaches teach going to one knee to feed the ball. I don’t like this because it doesn’t feel natural and it seems like the fielder is working against his body movement to make the feed.
For the extension play to the left we like to use the spin (last couple of reps in video above). There’s a couple of things we want to focus on for this feed. The first is to maintain depth and not stand straight up. The second is to make sure the ball is fielded back in the stance either in line or behind the left foot. The third thing is to focus on getting the right foot planted as quickly as possible to line the feet and the shoulders up with second base.
- Right Eye
- Foot Position (More Drastic Left in Front of Right)
- Depth Maintenance
3B Feed – For the feed from third base it’s pretty easy. We want to maintain depth and deliver a flat feed, just like the other feeds. We’ll do a replace step and deliver the ball in stride with good rhythm. We really want to focus on our left foot timing to keep that rhythm and deliver accurate feeds.