Basic Fundamentals of Baseball
The basic fundamentals of baseball are the building blocks of the game. A successful player must be able to hit the ball, field the ball, throw it and run the bases. Hitting with power is a bonus, but many standout players have not had the ability to drive the ball over the fence consistently.
The aspect of baseball that draws many young players to the game is the idea of hitting a baseball squarely. Whether they have seen a professional player do it on television or watched other players in person, hitting the ball is the essence of baseball for many people. In order to hit the ball consistently, a batter must take a solid stance in the batter's box with his left shoulder--for a right-handed hitter--facing the pitcher. (It is the opposite for a left-handed hitter.) The bat is held over the right shoulder, the knees are bent and the bulk of the player's weight on the back leg. As the pitch arrives, the batter must time his swing so the bat passes over the plate at the same time as the ball and makes contact. The batter's weight and momentum move forward at the same time, and the swing continues with a follow-through after contact.
The key to fielding a baseball is getting your body squarely in front of the ball. When fielding a ball that comes in below waist level, the fingers of the glove must be on or near the ground. The fielder must then react to the movement of the ball, which can be unpredictable. When the ball comes in at waist level or higher, the glove fingers should point upward and the glove should be positioned in anticipation of where the ball will be when it is within reach. Use your throwing hand to help secure the ball after it hits the glove.
Place the ball in your dominant hand and extend your forefinger and middle finger on top of the ball, with your thumb underneath. Bring the ball up to ear level, step forward with your opposite foot and bring your arm forward and snap your wrist to propel the ball toward the target. Bring your dominant leg forward to follow through with the throwing motion.
A good baserunner does not have to depend on speed to be effective. Speed will help a baserunner, but only if he understands how to run the bases. Baserunners must aim to touch the inside corner of the base and make a sharp turn toward the next base, which ensures the shortest distance is taken between bases. Baserunning ability also comes from understanding the circumstances of the game, such as whether your team is ahead or behind, the skill level of upcoming batters and the arm strength of the opponent's outfielders.
A baseball player who masters the fundamentals is a valuable part of any team. A player who can hit, field, throw and run has a chance to influence the outcome of the game in a variety of ways, much more so than a player who has strong skills in one fundamental but is weak in the others.
Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman authored The Minnesota Vikings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Who's Better, Who's Best in Football -- The Top 60 Players of All-Time, among others, and placed in the Pro Football Writers of America awards three times. Silverman holds a Master of Science in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism.