What Are the 5 Skills in Baseball?

Running, fielding, throwing, hitting, and hitting for power may seem simple, but they’re all essential to success on the diamond.
Written by Mark Bailey
Last updated on

The five skills of baseball are running, fielding, throwing, hitting, and hitting for power. This article will describe these skills in detail, and explain the terminology and strategy for players to succeed.

Running

Running is most important for offensive players. When a player makes a hit, he will begin to run to first base. In the game of baseball a player is allowed to run past first base as long as he touches the base. For this reason, if a player hits a single he will run as fast as possible through first base. If the ball is hit well, the player will continue running past first base, stopping at the last base he can without getting out. There are coaches at both first and third base to advise runners to continue or stop where they are. Runners at a base will be watching the batter as well as listening and watching for their coaches commands to run or in some instances steal a base.

Every defensive position will have to run during situations throughout the game. Some positions run more often than others. A baseball defense has the primary goal of moving a hit ball from where it lands to achieving an out as quickly as possible. This can involve pitchers or catchers running to bases to make up for another defensive player leaving the base to field a ball.

Fielding

Fielding in baseball is when defensive players work together to earn an out from a hit ball. Players in the three outfield positions (right field, center field and left field) will attempt to catch balls hit close to them. If they are unable to catch the ball, they will collect it from where it lands and move it as quickly as possible towards the infield. In Major League Baseball, outfielders throw well enough to get the ball from anywhere in the outfield to the infield. In youth baseball, another player may need to get between the outfielder and the infield to shorten the distance of the throw.

The positions of first base, second base, shortstop and third base have the added responsibility of achieving outs at their bases. As outfielders do, if a ball is popped up in the infield they position themselves under where it will land and catch it above their heads. It is important for players to keep their eyes on the ball when fielding, watching it until it lands in their glove. When a ball is hit at ground level and begins bouncing, a player must either catch it in their glove or stop it with their body. To do this, a player will again maintain eye contact with the ball and bend their knees before stopping it and moving it to the correct base.

Throwing

Whether it be through pitching or fielding, every player on a baseball team’s defense needs to be able to throw fast and accurately. To throw a baseball well, a player must first transition the ball from their glove to their throwing hand. If the throw is going to be long, the player will shuffle step in order to gain momentum before throwing the ball. He will then perform the motion of throwing the ball. First, he points his gloved hand towards the direction of the throw. The player then moves the ball behind his ear before making an arching motion releasing the ball from his throwing hand at a right angle. It is important to release the throw when the ball is pointed at or above the target. Having the ball hit at or near its intended target is crucial, as missed throws result in errors that help the other team.

Hitting

A baseball team’s offense revolves around good hitters. Hitting is a skill that can be improved through practice, but is also determined by natural aptitude. When people begin playing baseball at a young age, they will often start in tee-ball. The tee holds the ball in the ideal position to make solid contact with the ball, which is at abdomen height above home plate. When hitting a pitched ball, a player ‘keeps his eye on the ball’ and swings before it passes the plate in order to make a hit. There are many components to hitting a baseball. First is the way the bat is held. A player’s hand positioning on the bat should be ‘choked up’, which means positioned as far up on the bat as needed to produce a fluid and consistent swing. Whether left or right handed, a player’s dominant hand will always be positioned above his non-dominant hand on the bat. Solid contact with the ball can only come from hitting the ball with the center of the bat.

Hitting for Power

To ‘hit for power’, the basic fundamentals of hitting are combined with added momentum and speed. Players often step forward with their non-dominant foot to increase the momentum of their swing. The motions that a player makes when swinging their bat is intentional and increases their swinging speed to produce a more powerful hit. Learning how to make contact with the ball is the first step, and with practice new players can eventually hit for power.

Other Skills

Catcher Skills

The position of catcher in baseball is a crucial defensive position. The catcher stops pitched balls from landing behind the plate in error, and also catches foul balls and gets outs at home plate. Catchers are often larger and stronger than other baseball players. They need to have good endurance to squat behind the plate for long periods. In addition, their strength usually makes them effective batters.

Pitching Skills

In baseball, the pitcher can be thought of as the heart of a team’s defense. He controls the pace of the game, and uses strategy to strike out as many batters as he can. There are many pitch types in baseball. Some of the most common pitch types are fastballs (both 2-seam and 4-seam), curveballs, changeups and sliders. A pitcher will often have a handful of pitches that he throws well. He will not usually throw the same type of pitch in succession so the batter cannot anticipate where the ball will be thrown. The catcher will strategize with the pitcher by using hand signals behind the plate to advise the next type of pitch.

FAQ

How can I improve my baseball skills at home?

The most basic and effective way to improve baseball skills at home is to play catch. If you want to play catch by yourself, you can throw the ball at a wall and practice fielding skills when it bounces back at you. Tees are a good way to practice batting, and you can use them anywhere where there is enough room to hit. Check online to see if there are batting cages near you to better replicate what batting in a game will feel like. Running and general cardio exercise is important to perform well in games. Going for runs and practicing running the distance between bases, as well as sliding, can greatly improve how you will perform in a game. As with most things, the key to improving baseball skills is consistent practice.

What skills should a little leaguer have?

The primary purpose of little league baseball is to foster a love for the game and to have fun. Don’t worry if your little leaguer struggles with baseball skills. The most important skills for a little leaguer to begin developing are throwing, catching and batting skills. Playing catch and batting from a tee will help to train these skills at a young age. More important than these skills is to feel comfortable on the field, and to not fear the ball. This comes with time and cannot be forced. From practice and playing in games kids will begin to develop these skills with time. They may decide that they would rather play a different sport or none at all. Most little leagues will have all of their players play pitcher and catcher in games. Practicing these skills often is not important unless a player has an aptitude for these positions. Training a specific position and more advanced skills often does not come until middle school or high school baseball. The intensity of practice with the team and alone will depend on the competitiveness of the league, as some are more competitive than others.

What is the most important skill in baseball?

Having all of the skills mentioned above is important to be a successful baseball player. More importantly, however, is to have awareness and adaptability. The game of baseball changes rapidly. The ability to adapt to each new situation and have good field awareness separates average baseball players from great ones. It cannot be mentioned enough that practice is the best way to improve baseball skills, and with time any player can become competent at the sport.

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