Why Geometry Can Help Your Baseball Skills

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Good student that you are (in both school and baseball, I’m sure), you know Geometry to be the mathematical study of lines, shapes and angles.

But how can understanding Geometry help you become a better baseball player? Let us count the ways.

We’ve used the image of a triangle several times before, for example, as the imaginary three-sided shape that connects your shoulders, your forearms and your hands that helps you catch any ball that’s coming your way.

We’ve also talked about keeping yourself squared up to the ball (facing it at a 90-degree angle), which helps you see it and react to bad hops better.

We’ve used the image of a straight line, too, as a way of describing the path your hands and the knob of the bat should take towards the pitched ball as you begin your swing.

But we’ve never talked about circles until now.

Common sense and instinct suggest that the quickest way to get to an approaching ball is by coming at it in a straight line. You know, the shortest distance between two points and all that.

But the more advanced infielders know that this isn’t always the best way to approach the ball. Sometimes the angle of the ball off the bat means that, by coming at it in a straight line, you’re moving away from where you’ll be throwing the ball. This is true especially for middle infielders on plays when the throw will be to first base.

So, try “circling” the ball instead.

When you circle the grounder, what you’re doing is approaching the ball in an arc, or circular motion. Rounding the play off like this helps get you back to moving toward first base, not away from it, at the moment you field the ball.

Next time you’re watching a baseball game on TV, check out how the shortstops approach grounders. See how, no matter at which angle the ball comes off the bat, they’re almost always in position to field the ball off their left hip and make a quick, strong, accurate throw to first base.

Circling the grounder is often times how they do this so well, and make it look so easy at the same time.

So can you. Just by applying some basic geometry to the way you play the game.

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