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*Park League All-Star* Chris Plant shares his mental checklist for playing shortstop.

plant-at-shortstop

Chris playing shortstop for the Boston Padres

Blogger Bio
Chris Plant played high school baseball in Duxbury, MA and attended Union College, earning an All-Star selecton in 2001. He has played for the Hingham Phillies of the Cranberry League, the Mama’s of the Albany Twilight League, and currently for the Padres of the Boston Park League and the Rangers of the Boston MABL. Chris has been a Park League All-Star 3 times and was a member of the 2007 Park League Champion Padres.

Helpful Tips on Becoming a Successful Shortstop: 90% Mental

Being a good shortstop takes a combination of physical skills and brainpower. Physical skills come with practice and training, but mental skills can be more difficult to hone. Practice certainly helps, but true improvement comes with game experience. Here is a checklist that will help keep your mind on the game for every pitch.

1. Keep it clean: Make sure your area of the infield is free of debris and divots. Pick up any loose stones and smooth out any holes.  This will help you avoid bad hops.

2. Know the signs: While in the dugout find out what signs the pitcher and catcher will be using. Knowing what kind of pitch is going to be thrown will allow you to adjust your positioning. If you know the next pitch will be a curveball take a step to your right for a right-handed hitter (vise versa for a fastball). Also, seeing where the catcher is setting up will you give an idea of where the batter is most likely to hit the ball.

3. Know your teammates: Between each pitch, check out your fellow teammates. Notice how deep the outfielders are playing and where the second and third basemen are positioned. With this knowledge you can anticipate what area of the field you will need to cover. Knowing your outfielder’s arm strength gives you an idea on where you should set up for a cutoff throw.

4. Know your opponent: Make sure you know if there are runners on base, and what you will do if the ball is hit to you. Try to determine the speed of the runners on base and the speed of the hitter. Knowing their speed will help you make the correct play. If you bobble a groundball and you know the runner on first base is slow you will not need to rush your throw to second base.

5. Keep your Feet Moving: Once you have determined your positioning, take two steps back. While the pitcher is in his windup take two steps towards the hitter. This will keep your momentum moving in the right direction to field and make an accurate throw. Quick feet are the basis of a good shortstop, and moving before the pitch allows you to react quickly and athletically to any ball hit your way.

Wrap-Up: Although this seems like a lot to think about in a short amount of time, these steps will become routine with practice. Eventually you will do them without thinking. This is what we call “Baseball IQ” and as it increases so will your success.

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