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Fielding Question - the scoop or pull in?

Dec 16, 2008
I went to a clinic about a month ago and Pam Newton was talking about two methods of fielding. Basically the scoop, you field the ball and scoop it out and away from your body into the throwing positon. Second is the pull into your stomach and pop up into the throwing postion.

I was wandering what everyone teaches or if there is a certain situation where you use one over the other?
May 12, 2008
Fernadez told me scoop, friend of mine drafted into the Mets organization was taught scoop, makes sense to me from a time stand point-I teach scoop.
Jul 29, 2008
We have 2 Big XII coaches here that teach opposite each other. One teaches soft hands, the other scoops.

In my opinion, it depends on two factors- what age you are teaching and what is the ball/receiver position and speed.

Scooping is more advanced.
May 22, 2008
NW Pennsylvania
this is more of a question than an answer, but I would think the scoop is more in order if you are charging hard on a ground ball- as in moving foreward & reaching out or down in a scoop. & I would think soft hands or a pull would be in order for a more stationary fielder- for instance, taking a hard hit short hop??
Jan 15, 2009
The coaches at the U of MN are proponents of the scoop and other college coaches in the area are teaching soft hands. IMO a player needs to be able to do both and make a judgement on what's appropriate for the situation in the same way they make a judgement on the type of throw they will make. Again IMO the scoop is slightly faster, but soft hands is a higher percentage fielding method. If your playing a deep second base and a power hitter hits a firm grounder at you I would advocate soft hands because there should be plenty of time for the throw and the premium should be on making the play not making the play the fastest you can. When your fielding 3B against a lightning quick slapper/dragger your mechanics better adjust because a well fielded ball with soft hands might get there too late. If I had a fielder that was making plays, but occasionally scooped when I thought she should have soft hands or vice versa, I might just shut up and acknowledge that she is making plays and that any tweaking I might do would result in the opposite.
Dec 28, 2008
On the lighter side ----- One of the neat things that Bobby Simpson likes to do at the end of a long camp where instructors have worked on a particular style and all of the related mechanics is get to the bottom of the real issue. "Great throw means runner going to the base they are throwing to is out." After everyone agrees with that "bottom line" definition he proceeds to go through demonstrations with perfect technique of various forms but allows runner to be safe. Great technique, bad results. Then he demonstrates just kicking the ball as it approaches him instead of scooping or soft hands, or popping up, or staying low, or overhand, or side arm, and low and behold the ball arrives before the runner ... PERFECT THROW.

So I think Snocatz is on the right track ... "acknowledge they are making the plays" let them build confidence on that.
Dec 3, 2008
I believe they can be the SAME MOTION, just described differently. Let's take the SS, for example. As she fields a ball straight on, she needs to turn her body to throw the ball. If, as she is fielding it using "soft hands" and bringing it to her body, she also quickly resets her feet and turns her side to throw, her stomach will move out of the way of the path of her hands and they will continue straight up into the throwing position.

I advocate "soft hands" and bringing it up into their stomach... but my players get their body out of the way quick enough that their hands never make it to their stomach, but rather they get out of the way of the straight path of their hands and end up sideways and in the throwing position.
Aug 4, 2008
I'm a Howard Kobata fan. He does not teach the scoop as described above. Watch one of his DVD or attend one of his clinics. What he teaches is what I see at must colleges and team USA.
May 5, 2008
The scoop seems like something you'd do in practice, but never really do in a game unless you're just trying to ad-lib or "do what it takes" to get the ball.

Maybe I'm not making much sense. I am also a big Howard fan and asked him about the scoop thing because I wanted to know his thoughts since I really wasn't a big fan of the scoop thing. Now I know not everyone likes Howard's stuff, but I think most of it is excellent and I always have former players e-mailing or messaging me when I say I'm going to see Howard - they always tell me to say hello to him and that he was so great as a coach and that a big part of why they were successful was because of him.

When the USA Women's National team was here, I saw them doing the scoop, and normally, I'm all for "emulating the best" in the game, but I just don't see why you'd want to do this. IF you don't get it just right, then the ball ends up away from you and you can't make a play.

I also don't see it being a method that facilitates quick, efficient transfer of the ball to the throwing position.

I used to be a huge advocate of the softball hands/to the stomach thing (at least if you mishandle it, it's still in a place where you can manage to get a handle on it and make a play), but after learning more in the past few years, I think I'd rather have the moving through the ball technique (like Softball_2 described players bodies "getting out of the way of the ball" and the ball moving from the fielding position in to the throwing position due to proper movement of the body).

I see coaches teaching the scoop in some situations, but I don't know. I'm just not convinced yet. Plus you also have the added risk of flipping dirt up toward your face. Not something a contact wearer like me wants to take a chance with. ;)

Of course, this is JMHO. It's interesting to read everyone's views on this.
Jan 29, 2009
Let me see if I can clarify some reasoning behind a "scoop."

Scooping simply cuts down on possible ground ball complications. By being proactive with the glove hand and making a move towards the ball on a short hop, you can field the ball several inches closer to the point of the balls last contact with the ground. The reason behind this is two fold.

1. By allowing the ball to take a hop, and then trying to have your glove and the ball moving in the same direction towards your body, you are allowing another 8-12" of extra space for the ball to change directions, take a bad hop etc. If you can cut the ball off, closer to the point it last hit the ground, then you eliminate some of the things it "MIGHT" do. Let's say that you are set up for a ground ball, that takes its last hop 14" in front of you. If the ball were to hit something on the field that caused it to take a bad hop, it would change direction/spin/speed, but this would become more severe the closer the ball got to the fielder. The ball at 13" away from you wouldn't be able to severely change paths compared to what it might do when it is 6" away from you. We're trying to cut off the short hop before things can go wrong. The ball is in a spot we feel comfortable about catching it, so we attack the ball in our comfort zone. We don't let a short hop come to our glove, we get it before things go wrong.

2. For all the hitting people out there, think about matching the plane of the pitch with the plane of your swing. Well, we need to do the same thing with our glove, so that if the ball makes an awkward hop, we've got our glove and the ball moving on relative angles, toward each other for an anticipated meeting. ex: as ball is taking the last hop, fielder has glove on the ground, then the fielder reads the hop, taking her glove at a similar approach angle as the ball leaves or stays on the ground. Obviously, you have to play the ball from the ground up, so you won't truly be "on plane" with a ground ball. But by playing a short hop from the ground up, and aggressively picking towards the last hop you set yourself up for success. If the ball takes a bad hop, you will have better control in adjusting your glove if the glove is moving towards the softball than if it is moving away from the softball.

I don't like using the phrase "soft hands" on a ball that is cradeled. A fielder who has soft hands, will pick the ball well, transfer etc. Soft hands is an attribute of a good fielder, not something a fielder decides to have on one certain type of play.

So a "scoop" is a short hop move and bringing the ball in is a big hop move. The best fielders make their name on the in between hops. This is where a scoop is big time. You must commit to where you think the ball is going, make a strong move with the glove towards the ball and have the ability to adjust last second. You've got to be aggressive.

I think some of the coaches/teams that have been mentioned so far need more credit than to think they do one or the other, the all have to do both in order to be successful. Some may make it more of a point of emphasis, but you get on Team USA by knowing how to do both.

Mark Mulvany
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