Rookie Club: How to Play First Base


Youngsters like yourself often find playing first base to be one of the most fun positions in the entire field because you’re always near the action. True. Let’s focus on a few errors often seen with this position.

The most common mistake I see young first basemen make is in anchoring the foot to the bag and stretching for the throw, before the throw is on the way. By doing that, they’re limiting their ability to adjust to a bad throw.

Wait until the throw is coming, then place your foot on the second base side of the bag. Note I said “side”. You never want to place your foot on top of the base. Too dangerous for you and the baserunner.

Another mistake kids make is in anchoring the wrong foot to the bag. Think of opposites. If you catch with your right hand, anchor your left leg; if you catch with your left hand, anchor your right leg. This gives you an extra couple inches of reach that could be the difference between out and safe. But stretching for the throw is something you want to do only if the play is going to be close.

Let’s say there’s a sharp, one-hopper hit directly at the second baseman. Chances are, there’s no way the runner is going to leg that into a base hit. So if the play isn’t close, square up your body, wait until the throw’s on the way, touch the bag with your opposite foot and catch the ball. It’s that simple.

If you play in a league where the batter can advance on a dropped third strike, it’s important that you give the catcher a good target without having to throw across the runner’s path.

If the ball is in foul territory along the first base side, place your right foot on the outside edge of the bag and the rest of your body in foul territory. If the ball is in foul territory along the third base side, or in fair territory, set up on the inside corner of the bag. Calling out “inside” or “outside” as you set up lets the catcher know where the target is going to be.

Practice these tips and you’ll be a great first baseman in no time.

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