Learning How to Hit a Fungo Well Helps Coaches Support Their Players

As with any sport, practice makes perfect when it comes to baseball. While many young players put in countless hours at batting practice or pitching, fewer spend enough time to truly develop their fielding skills. In reality, fielding practice often pays off even more than other kinds, because catching a fast-moving ball and becoming ready to throw it is one of the most complicated tasks in baseball. Whether for shortstops aiming for the local equivalent of the Golden Glove or an outfielder who could use some help with the basics, young players often benefit greatly from being given the chance to practice fielding.

What that typically requires is a coach or other person who is able to hit balls to them on demand. This sometimes turns out to be more of an issue than might expected, as a hitter who cannot deliver balls reliably to the right places will drag down the effectiveness of fielding practice. A coach with excellent fungo hitting technique, on the other hand, will be able to maximize the results that follow, with every minute spent in practice paying off as much as it possibly could.

What it typically requires to reach this level of skill, of course, is plenty of practice on the part of the coach or other hitter. Hitting a fungo differs significantly from standing at the plate before a pitcher, as one hand must first be used to put the ball into position for striking. Depending upon where and how the ball is to be hit thereafter, successful coaches will then normally adopt one of a couple of basic approaches.

For especially young players or those who need help with the fundamentals, maintaining a one-handed grip on the bat will sometimes be enough. For a physically fit, coordinated coach, this will normally allow the ball to be hit with a modicum of force either along the ground or in a gentle arc. On the other hand, many other kinds of fielding practice will work out better if the throwing hand returns to the bat after putting the ball in the air. While it can take quite a bit of practice to become skilled at making this transition, this will allow for the hitting power needed to challenge players whose skills are better developed.