Not every softball can be fielded straight on. Occasionally, you’ll have to backhand a ball to get the out. Backhanding the ball requires slight changes to your footwork and glove placement. Getting comfortable with this fielding technique can lead to more confidence in your game and stronger stops on defense.
To backhand a softball, keep your glove-side foot in front. Meanwhile, you should angle your opposite foot back at 45 degrees. Next, turn your glove over with your thumb to the ground. Maintain a low base with your glove out in front and track the ball in.
PRO TIP: Backhand catches happen in the web of your glove, not the pocket. If you try to backhand a catch in the pocket, it can easily pop out. Try closing “pinky to thumb” to secure the ball in your glove’s web.
BACKHAND GROUND BALL DRILLS
Once you understand the needed footwork, it’s time to train. There are a few drills you can perform in practice to help your confidence with backhanding a ball.
For your first exercise, have a coach or teammate roll a softball toward you. Your goal is to block the rolling ball with your back foot, rather than field it. This helps to emphasize the footwork and angling needed for clean backhanded fielding. If you can get to this position to block the ball with your foot, you should be able to field it as well.
Moving on, you can then practice fielding with the three-cone drill. Place one cone at your starting position and the remaining two where you would field the ball. You should angle your markers at 45 degrees to represent where your feet should be upon fielding. Run through the steps by moving from your starting cone to your fielding spot. Throughout this drill, you should plant with your back foot and follow with your front. Keep your glove out in front and continue to emphasize the proper backhand mechanics.
After running through the cone drill for a few repetitions, remove the cones and field some rolled softballs. Eventually, you can add in an exchange and throw to first base.
Comfort and confidence are key to defensive success in softball. Be sure to practice your backhand abilities with these quick drills.