Anyone who has ever played baseball had to start off with learning the basic fundamentals of baseball. The issue most new players run into is the fundamentals of baseball are different depending on who you ask. Some people list out dozens of fundamentals while others list out only a few. So I wanted to put together a comprehensive guide to all the fundamentals in baseball for anyone who was eager to learn. But let’s start off with the first question most people ask, what are the basic fundamentals of baseball?
The five most basic fundamentals in baseball are throwing, catching, hitting, fielding, and base running. There are dozens of additional fundamentals in baseball, but all players need to be proficient in these five fundamentals to be successful at any position.
While these five fundamentals are what all good players have in common, there are additional fundamentals players need to know and those fundamentals depend on the type of position you’ll be playing. Whether you’re wanting to know how to teach your child baseball fundamentals or you’re learning the fundamentals on your own, the rest of this article is a complete list of the fundamentals you’ll want to know.
1) Throwing Fundamentals
The first thing most people learn when starting off in baseball is how to throw. Throwing is not an easy task, as it takes the entire body to make a good throw. In fact, throwing a baseball is a skill that is practiced on a regular basis by all baseball players – even professional players.
There are three fundamentals players need to know when throwing a baseball. The three fundamentals to throwing a baseball include the player’s grip on the baseball, the player’s stance, and the actual throw.
When throwing, players want to use something called a four-seam grip. This is a grip where your two fingers are resting over the top of four seams of the baseball.
Once players have the correct grip, they’ll need to be in a good throwing stance. A good throwing stance includes having the leg opposite of the throwing arm out in front and pointing towards the target, the non-throwing hand pointed towards the target, and the ball in the throwing hand with palms facing down.
Then players will throw the ball using their whole body. The throwing arm will move forward, releasing the ball towards the target. The body will move forward and the player will land in the ready position.
Players need to consistently practice their throwing fundamentals if they want to make consistent and accurate throws. Learn more about the 3 fundamentals of throwing a baseball, including 3 common mistakes that rookies make when throwing.
2) Catching Fundamentals
Every baseball player throws baseballs, which means all baseball players need to know how to catch those baseballs. The good news is that the concept is fairly simple – position the glove in the ball’s path and catch it. But there are a few key fundamentals that all players need to know when it comes to catching.
For a more in-depth guide to the fundamentals of catching a baseball, read my other article on the 7 fundamentals of catching a baseball.
A brief overview of the seven fundamentals for catching a baseball are:
- Choosing the right glove size
- Starting in the Ready Position
- Making Your Glove a Target
- Keeping Your Eye on the Ball
- Moving with the Ball
- Using Two Hands to Catch the Ball
- Finding the Four-Seam Grip
A lot of players associate the ball going into their glove as the end of catching a baseball, but players will also need to practice reaching into their glove and finding the four-seam grip without looking.
The more players practice moving with the ball, catching with two hands, and finding the four-seam grip without looking at the baseball, the more likely they are to make quick and efficient plays on the field.
Again, this is a high-level overview of the fundamentals of catching a baseball. Read the in-depth article I linked to above to learn more about the details around each of these fundamentals.
3) Fundamentals for Catching Fly Balls
Catching a baseball and catching a fly ball may sound similar, but they actually require different skill sets. Catching fly balls is normally associated with outfielders, but infielders also need to know how to catch a fly ball.
The five fundamentals of catching a fly ball are judging a fly ball, running down a fly ball, communicating with teammates, catching the fly ball, and preparing to throw the ball after the catch.
During a game, fly balls are not normally hit directly at a player. So a player needs to practice catching fly balls so they can get used to reading the ball off the bat and tracking it down. Fly balls can also be line drives or they can be easy pop-flys.
In either scenario, players need to practice the fundamentals of catching fly balls. Not only so they can catch the fly ball, but also so they can learn how to position themselves to make the catch and quickly make the throw.
Learn more about the 5 fundamentals of catching a fly ball.
4) Fielding Ground Balls
While fielding ground balls is generally associated with infielders, outfielders also need to know how to properly field ground balls. Ground balls can seem intimidating at first, but it’s a skill that gets easier with practice. Especially when you practice with the correct fundamentals.
In this section, we’ll cover the fundamentals at a high level. For a more in-depth guide, read my other article on the 7 fundamentals of fielding a ground ball, which also includes 3 additional ways of fielding ground balls in the outfield.
The fundamentals of fielding a ground ball are:
- Starting in the ready position
- Assessing the hit
- Getting in front of the ball
- Taking small and quick steps
- Keeping the glove down
- Using two hands when fielding
- Making the throw
One of the most challenging fundamentals for fielders to remember is keeping their glove down. It’s much easier to bring the glove up to field a ball that bounces than it is to bring a glove down to field a ball that doesn’t bounce. So you always want to make sure the glove is down; even touching the ground.
Fielding a ground ball is something that is practiced on a daily basis by professionals so these fundamentals are something all players should focus on all of the time. Read the article I linked to above for more information on the fundamentals of fielding a ground ball.
5) Pitching Fundamentals
Players who know how to throw a baseball may think it’s an easy transition to pitching, but pitching is a tough position and requires a lot more fine-tuning and a lot more knowledge than one can get from simply throwing a baseball.
Learning to pitch will take some time, but there are six key fundamentals that all pitchers must learn if they want their shot on the mound. Pitchers must know how to grip their pitch, take their starting stance, windup, pivot, stride, and follow through.
Pitchers may have different variations on how each of these fundamentals are performed, but all pitchers must learn these fundamentals if they want to be successful.
There are multiple pitches a pitcher can learn, but most pitchers will become an expert at three to four pitch types. But learning how to hold different types of pitches is only part of the battle. Pitchers must also know how to properly take their starting stance (whether it’s a full windup or from the stretch), how to windup, pivot, stride, and follow through correctly.
Learn more about the 6 fundamentals of pitching in baseball.
6) Fundamentals of Being a Catcher
Arguably, one of the most challenging defensive positions in baseball is the catcher. Catchers are involved in every play and they must be aware of everything happening on the diamond. Being a catcher is much more than catching pitches, being a catcher has its own unique fundamentals that players need to be aware of.
Catcher fundamentals include catching and framing pitches, blocking pitches, throwing out base runners, signaling pitches, calling out infield strategy, and backing up first base on occasion.
A majority of a catcher’s tasks require catching and framing pitches. Catchers who are successful at framing pitches can convince the home plate umpire to call more strikes than balls, which benefits the defense.
Catchers are also involved in throwing out base runners, whether those base runners are stealing or the catcher is trying to pick off a base runner they think has too much of a lead.
In addition to the physical side of things, catchers are also responsible for calling out the type of defense the infield will be running. Depending on the score of the game and where the base runners are at, the catcher needs to have the mental acuity to call out the correct strategy.
This section is just a high-level overview of the fundamentals of being a catcher. Learn more about the 6 fundamentals of being a catcher in baseball, which include a few obvious caveats for when catchers should not back-up first base.
7) Hitting Fundamentals
Most players’ favorite part about baseball is hitting. Hitting is not an easy task, which is obvious when you see that successful professional players get a hit in three out of every ten at-bats, but there is something very rewarding about successfully getting a base hit.
Regardless of where you’re at in your baseball career, hitting is one thing that should always be practiced with solid fundamentals.
The fundamentals of hitting are:
- Gripping the bat
- Keeping the head still
- Keeping eyes on the ball
- Driving hips forward
- Back elbow bent and close to body
- Following through
Most players have slight variations in their swings, but all successful hitters in baseball understand and practice these fundamentals. Learn about the 12 characteristics of highly successful hitters.
This section just briefly touches on the fundamentals of hitting. Learn more about the 7 fundamentals of hitting a baseball.
8) Bunting Fundamentals
In addition to hitting, all players need to know how to bunt. Bunting is an offensive strategy that is becoming less and less popular, but a perfectly executed bunt at the right time can make all the difference in a game.
The fundamentals of bunting are knowing why you’re bunting, squaring up to the pitcher, positioning the top hand further up on the handle, keeping the bat at a 45-degree angle, using the legs to adjust to the height of the pitch, and catching the ball with the bat.
Any player could be asked to bunt in any given situation. Sometimes your team simply needs to advance a base runner and the best way to do that is with a sacrifice bunt. Some fast players may see an opening in the defense and try to get on base with a drag bunt. And on occasion, slower hitters can bunt for a base hit if the defense is playing too much of a shift.
And regardless of how you’re trying to bunt, all hitters should know the fundamentals of bunting a baseball so they can prevent an easy pop-fly to the catcher or pitcher. Learn more about the 6 fundamentals of bunting a baseball.
9) Baserunning Fundamentals
Running the bases may seem fairly straightforward – just run from base to base and avoid getting out. But running the bases correctly is crucial if you want to score a run.
The fundamentals of baserunning in baseball are:
- Having a proper running technique
- Knowing how to slide
- Rounding the bases
- Getting good primary and secondary leads
- Picking up signs from the base coach
- Studying the pitcher
- Know the infield fly rule,
- Know when to tag up
- Know when you can run through first base
Being smart when running the bases can help you avoid getting out and help avoid your teammates from getting out. For example, players who know when to slide in baseball know that the lead runner is responsible for breaking up a double play. A base runner who successfully breaks up a double play will prevent their teammate from getting out.
Read more about the 9 fundamentals of base running in baseball.
Good Fundamentals Lead to Better Skills
When players practice their fundamentals they’re also improving their skills. And players who are fundamentally sound with a lot of skill are often referred to as a five-tool player. What is a five-tool player in baseball?
A five-tool player is a player who is skilled at fielding, hitting for contact, hitting for power, has arm strength, and has speed.
Learn more about the 5 basic skills in baseball.