As a baseball player or coach, you need to have a good idea of where you should position each defensive player when they go out to take their position, regardless of which one it is. This is especially true for young baseball players who are just learning the game. Or it can be for players of any age who are moving to a new defensive assignment and need to understand where they need to position themselves when they take the field.
Many times, being in the correct position is the difference between getting to the ball and making a play, or the ball getting past you for a hit. In this article, we will look at all nine defensive positions on the field and review the correct positions you need to stand. Remember that during the course of a game and based on the situation, you may be asked to adjust that position slightly by your coaching staff.
The pitcher positioning is fairly obvious. You need to be situated on the pitcher’s mound in the center of the infield. Your primary job is to pitch the ball but once you release it, you become a fielder. This means that even though you are in the middle of the diamond, you need to be able to move quickly to field a slow hit ball or a bunt. You also need to be alert for any hard hit balls hit back up the middle since you are the main line of defense for those.
This one is also quite obvious. The catcher is always positioned behind home plate. The primary goal of the catcher is to provide the pitcher a target for where to throw the ball and to make sure they catch the pitch. A catcher will also become a fielder after a ball is hit, mainly for bunts or slow hit rollers.
The first baseman is normally positioned about 3 steps towards second base from the right field line. In addition, they will move 2 steps back from the first base bag. This position gives the first baseman the best position to reach a ball hit down the first base line or one hit between first and second base.
As a second baseman you will position yourself a bit deeper than a first or third baseman. The normal position for a second baseman is 6 steps towards first base and 6 steps back. Playing deeper will allow them to cut off balls that may reach the outfield. Positioning more towards the first baseman can also close the gap for balls hit in that direction.
This position will play in more than that a middle infielder and similar to a first baseman. The third baseman should set up around 4 steps towards the second base bag from the third base line and about 2 steps behind the third base bag.
Similar to the second baseman, the shortstop plays deeper. They will typically position themselves 6 steps from second base and 6 steps back. This will allow them to get to balls hit up the middle or to their left while still having time to reach the second base bag when needed.
A left fielder is positioned behind the shortstop and about ⅔ of the way between the infield and the outfield wall. This should give them enough room to go back on a ball hit over their head or to come in on a ball beyond the infielders.
The center fielder will make note of which side of the plate the batter is hitting from. They should get into position a few steps on the pull side of second base and ⅔ of the way between the infield and the outfield wall. This gives them a running chance of getting to a ball hit on the pull side of the field.
The right fielder sets up in a similar position to the left fielder, except they will be behind the second baseman. Once behind them, they will then get positioned about ⅔ way between the infield and the outfield wall.
Although older players may be more comfortable with their positioning, it’s important for young players to be aware of where they are positioned during play. Coaches may want to draw a circle in the dirt for the correct position for them to get set up in. They also need to be careful not to get directly in the baseline. This could create contact with a runner and risk injury.