1) One of the first things to work on is, when you get together with your teammates for the upcoming season, is find out who is playing first base. You want to be able to understand his moves around the base. Which foot he likes to use the most frequent when covering the bag. This will enhance your throwing ability when it comes time to make that quick throw with no time time to react. For example a player that you know might try and chop down on the ball on purpose to get it by me at third. Now you know this person is also going to be fast so you have to be prepared and no ahead of time just where your first baseman will be.
As soon as you can start throwing with that person, do! Get in the habit of throwing with that person. It really can make a difference. When I played with the late Dirk Androff in the mid 1990's he was really big on just that. He would take that extra few minutes at every practice to take the extra throws from me at third base. This could only help one thing. Team Victory.
2) Study the players that you play against , learn their habits . Do they hit back side? Do they pull the ball? What do they do when they need to get a hit if the ball isn't leaving the park. Is he a good enough hitter that if I give him the line will he try to take. If so maybe this is a person you can bait, give him the line and take it away at the last second. Some times on left handed batters, you can move towards the batters box so he can slap the ball down the line. Plus when you do this to some players you can get in their head, and instead of trying to pull it and hit a bomb you take them out of their game and they try to hit it buy ya.
3) Some third baseman at our level like to play deeper than I do . I like playing closer than most because I feel more comfortable, I feel I can throw any player out from playing in on the infield. I hate playing behind infield lips, because most of them will produce bad hops that will rip your lips off. The farther away you play from the batter, that will usually mean a longer throw and that can give the batter that extra edge he is looking for in the first place.
Since I started playing the game of softball, I have seen three out of the four associations (ISA, NSA, and the ASA) adopt the base stealing rule which can make the game a lot more fun because of the threat of someone advancing the extra base in a close game. You have to be on your toes the whole game. I have had many a player thrown out at third trying to advance. This rule brings the catcher into the game also.
4) One of the things that I practice in practice on during the individual hitting, (any hitter is taking his swings), I take one step towards the batter as the pitch is being delivered and then get in my crouched position. I make sure that I am on the balls of my feet. When the ball is hit to me, the lower I get the better I do on the fielding percentage. Sometimes I will drop
to my knees to make sure I get low enough and don't let the ball get through. The balls are hit so hard today that if I can just knock it down I still have about a 80% ratio of still throwing the batter out.
5) In the new Millennium the players are stronger, the equipment is better so you don't have alot of time to react at third base. You have 6 or 7 feet to ether side of you to work with. So diving plays a big roll in playing third base today. So you need to be always thinking ball when you are on the field. At the end of the game if your uniform is clean you didn't get much action .
6) I live in PA the winter months so it makes it kind of tough to take ground ball in the snow. Taking ground balls inside doesn't help either. It's just not the same. Not for me at least. I love the real thing. Dirt and mud. So I get the heebie cheebies just waiting for the weather to break so I can get outside.
If I had to pick one exercise or activity that really helps me with playing third base it is playing tons of racket ball. It is a great hand to eye coordination activity. Racket Ball is a very fast moving game, and is also a great work out.
#1 Number One Objective Over The Winter.
Work on your hand and eye coordination!!!!!!!!
Good Luck This Summer Boys!