First off, make sure you are in a proper stance. That is on the balls of your feet with your feet about shoulder width apart (this will help from you getting caught "flat footed" on some hot shots to 3rd). Keep your arms hanging inside your knees. When a grounder is hit, concentrate on getting your body square with the ball (if possible) and on getting the tip of your glove to the ground. Be sure to have that glove as straight up and down as possible so the ball doesn't ride up and get you in the face. This should at least guarantee that you block the ball, which could be the difference between a runner on second coming in to score or him keeping his butt on second. - Moondog

Where to position yourself in the field?

My position depends upon the batter and situation. In my league few guys pull the ball, most try to go up the middle. For every ball down the line there are five in the 5-6 gap, so I tend to play further from the bag until the other team proves to me they can take the line. In 14 games this season I've had one grounder get past me on the right.

I play deeper with nobody on and nobody out. Especially if we have a lead or the game is even. If there's a double-play possibility in the middle I play a little shallower so I can get the ball faster and start the double-play. With runners on 1st and second I may play an extra step away from the bag...if the ball's hit my way and I can field it moving towards the bag I have an easy play stepping on 3rd and making the throw to 1st. vs. a Lefty I'll take two more steps away from the bag and one deeper. My shortstop likes to move left and try to take away the middle so I give him a few steps his way to keep the 5-6 gap as tight as possible.

Watch the batter's position in the box and his footwork. That'll tell you a lot about whether he's going to pull, go opposite field or what. Also, hopefully, your pitcher is clued in as well and won't pitch a lefty outside when you're shifted hard to pull. :)

Lot of variables, mostly I just try to play sound and take away the easy angles. Bottom line: play it where you're comfortable and what works the best for you. If all of that is too much thinking for you then just pick a spot in the dirt that feels right and do your best. - Ben Schorr

When I played 3rd I was comfortable about two/ two and half steps behind the bag. Remember playing third the ball is either by you or at you. It's all about where you feel comfortable. For the most part, guys that have really good arms tend to play a little deeper, those that have average arms play closer to even with the bag. The best piece of advice I could give would be to make sure you are in a ready position with your glove hand in front of your body. Stay extra focused on the ball off the bat and react to the ball. - Rueben

Play as deep as your arm will allow. Meaning position yourself where you can field the ball / knock it down and still throw the guy out at first. If you have a cannon for an arm you can play a little deeper, if not get up there where you can knock a hot one down and still pick it up and throw the guy out. - Al

A good fielding drill:

If you want to improve your skills at 3rd the best thing you can do is take alot of infield practice. I've been playing 3rd for 7 years and I can tell you nothing helps more than practice. One good drill I used to improve my fielding was to stand about halfway between 3rd and home and have someone hit the ball at me, starting with easy ones then getting increasingly harder. This helped me to react faster off the bat and work on my fielding skills. - Hawkey17

Trouble with balls getting past under your glove?

A few tips that have helped me... 1. Biggest one...bend your knees. Get your center of gravity down, that'll help your balance AND lower your glove so stuff doesn't get under it. 2. Watch the ball all the way into the glove. Catch it first, then throw it. Remember that if you just stop the grounder or the throw from getting past you it'll often mean a base or two to the runners and that can make all the difference. Naturally the ideal is to make the catch AND throw the runner out. But at least make the catch. - Ben Schorr

Get down and scoop up some dirt with the ball. Wear a cup. - John

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Last Updated: 09/23/2003