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  I have been fortunate to have known a lot of coaches in all sports. I was attending a high school playoff basketball game that was going down to the wire. The coach I knew team was down by one point at the end of the game. With a few seconds left, one of the guards got some space and drove all the way down the left side of the basket and put in a lay-up with his right hand just out of the reach of two defenders. The team won the game. Later that week I ran into the coach and congratulated him on the team’s great victory. I couldn’t help asking him why the guard didn’t take the lay-up lefty since he was on the left side. The coach explained that the guard who was a righty was most comfortable with his strong hand. He went into detail that he teaches his team the correct fundamentals, with lefty and righty lay-ups but to always shoot with the hand that will make the basket.

This conversation stuck with me.

  In baseball, each and every fielding play in baseball is slightly different from the one before. I know some people will vehemently disagree with me but I don’t recommend trying to catch every ball with two hands. I would say in almost every book on baseball fundamentals you will read will state that you have to teach kids to catch everything with two hands. I think this is 100% wrong. As a coach, I want my players to catch a ball anyway they can. I want them to practice catching a ball with two hands. I also want the practicing catching a ball with one hand. Let me explain my reasoning on this. Before I give you my explanation I want to urge all new youth coaches to use soft covered balls to start when teaching catching fundamentals. I’m a big believer in using props, different size balls or even scatch balls with a Velcro paddle and Velcro ball to help kids gain confidence catching a baseball.  The worst thing we can do for young players is to throw a hard ball at them at their first practice and they get hit in the face or nose and never want to step on the baseball field again. We want to instill confidence in young players so they keep coming back every year to play. Back to one-handed and two-handed catches. Most of the time in baseball and youth baseball a ball could and should be caught with two hands. There are times though when it is easier for a player to catch the baseball with one hand rather than both hands. When catching a pop-up hit right to a player, with little or no running, a two-handed catch works best. But too many coaches and parents overemphasize catching everything with two hands. The simple fact is there are a lot of baseballs that are not hit right at a player. He may have to move multiple steps to his right or his left. Imagine a short stop sprinting fast into foul territory behind third base trying to catch a foul ball. And the only way he can make the play is if he stretches out his glove arm toward the baseball that is descending toward the ground very fast. I maintain that on a play like this it is virtually impossible for the fielder to make the play if he has to do so with two hands. Coaches must be flexible the way they teach the game of baseball. And they should instill onto their players to be flexible. As a coach I urge all other coaches and parents to teach their kids to catch with both two hands and with one hand. This is for ground balls as well as fly balls. A good rule is that two hands should be used in most cases when your body is completely behind the ball. But when a player is moving fairly quickly is will probably be easier for him to catch the ball with one hand. The bottom line is to teach the correct fundamentals with one and two handed catches but teach players to catch the baseball anyway they can. And very important for coaches is not to berate kids if they use one hand and make the catch.

Marty Schupak is the President and founder of theYouth Sports Club and T-Ball America.

Views: 208

Comment by Bill Stanton on December 5, 2017 at 4:24pm

Good stuff Marty. Completely agree!

Comment by Richard Lovell on December 7, 2017 at 5:07pm

Completely agree. "You can't make a great playing trying to catch with two hands"...this was said to me once by a good baseball man, Rich Sundberg, as we talked about, well, baseball. I have always agreed with this, but inevitably and as you mention, youth and even higher level coaches always seem to yell this out-"use two hands". Why? I believe it is the same reason many coaches still yell out "swing down, squish the bug, drive your hips" and many other cues. It is because it is what they were taught and heaven forbid you do something that goes against those that know. Anyway, great article, Marty.

Comment by Steve Young on December 7, 2017 at 6:20pm

I would agree!  

When I was in college my head coach's kids (they were about 5, 7, and 10) would come by every now and then.  He'd make them catch balls with one hand all the time.  And one time I was struggling in the field and my coach had me take grounders with one hand instead fielding with two.  It forced me to get athletic, focus, as well as do what came more natural to me.

Finally, I've noticed that sometimes when I put that other hand up to catch fly balls, it blocked my view.  

I think the two hand catch fundamental comes from the ol' days when mitts were pancaked open and didn't really have any pockets so you almost had to catch the ball with 2 hands.  The only gloves that had pockets then were first basemen mitts and catcher's mitts.  And then, they really did look like mitts!

Comment by John Roschella on December 8, 2017 at 10:18am

Marty there are plenty of catches in baseball where "2 hands" is less than optimal and will sometime make it awkward for someone to try and catch the ball.

We coach "2 hands" on routine plays (catches and ground balls), 2 hands on fly balls when they might need to make a throw to a base and you can be behind the ball in normal position (ie someone is on base)...balls where the players is moving it would be difficult to impossible "use 2 hands".

We seldom encourage our 1st baseman to use 2 hands. That is awkward for a 1st baseman to use 2 hands.

We require 2 hands on double play balls, don't use 2 hands and it will be unlikely we'll turn the double play

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