Where do they Play
The shortstop has a long throw to first. Therefore they play just a step behind the baseline. If your shortstop has an unusually strong arm and/or the batter is a power hitter, the shortstop might back up 2-3 steps. The shortstop should be closer to second than the second baseman is because most hitters swing late and most hitters are right handed. Also, there are more hits up the middle than in the hole between short and third. Finally, it is easier to back up the pitcher on throws from the catcher if closer to second.
The shortstop is responsible for covering second on all balls hit to their left unless they can get the ball. The shortstop is responsible for covering third on all balls hit to their right unless they can get the ball. The shortstop is responsible for covering second when a runner at first is stealing second (unless you are using an extreme shift toward third). The shortstop is responsible for backing up the pitcher on throws from the catcher when there are base runners. The shortstop is responsible for being the cutoff man on balls in left field. Since the base to be thrown to can be either second or third the second baseman should yell directions as to which base is to be thrown to even if it is obvious.
The shortstop does not have time for poor technique in catching and throwing the ball to first. The hands must be together as the ball is caught and the feet being set as the throwing hand comes up behind the head. The back should be arched a little as the ball is thrown overhand. The aiming point on the first baseman should be the knee. This height throw allows the maximum stretch toward the throw by the first baseman. Also, the first basemen can catch a throw that bounces but cannot catch one high over their head.
Ground balls in the hole between short and third are a shortstop’s most difficult play. They should set their feet before the throw from the hole. The greater speed of the throw more than makes up for the greater delay in getting rid of the ball. Also, this reduces the chances of a wild throw.
If the runner from second has already gone by toward third before the ball crosses the baseline, the shortstop should not try to get the runner at third because the chances are good that he will not get them. At this level of baseball the sure out is worth more than the chance of getting the lead runner. If the ball crosses the baseline before the runner goes by, go for the runner at third. If the shortstop can catch the ball in the baseline, they should glance at the runner from second to see if a tag is going to be easy. If it is then that is the surer out to get. Also, if the runner from second is forced, the shortstop may be able to get the double play after the tag. If the shortstop has to go to either side to get the ball when the runner off second is forced, they should make the play at the base they are going toward.
On the double-play ground ball (a rare phenomenon at this age) the shortstop should make the throw to the second baseman’s throwing shoulder. If going toward second when the ball is caught the shortstop must throw the ball underhand. If the ball is hit to the second baseman, the shortstop should get to the base as quickly as possible. The best place to catch the ball is on the side of the base from which the ball will come. The feet should be at the corners of the base if there is time to get them there. If the throw to second is a good one, the shortstop can be resetting their feet with the left foot forward toward the ball and the right foot tagging the base. While the ball is entering the glove the shortstop should begin a jump turn to reset the feet for the throw to first. If the runner is near, the jump turn should take the shortstop away from the base while turning.
The shortstop covers second on steals from first. The shortstop is closer to the base (unless you have an extreme shift on in which case the second baseman covers the base). Since the shortstop is playing close to the baseline they are already between the base and the catcher. As the shortstop approaches the base the runner is in front of him. (For the second baseman the runner is behind him.) It is easier for the second baseman to get behind the base to back up the throw.
The shortstop should be able to get to the base before the throw does. The throw should be made before the shortstop gets to second. The throw should be caught as close to the tagging position as possible to make the tag quicker. This often means catching the throw on the short hop. Shortstops are supposed to be able to do this easily. Catching bouncing baseballs is one of the things they do well. They can risk missing the catch because there are two players in position to back up the play.
The shortstop covers second on hits to right field and center field. If the runner is coming from first the shortstop must wait for the ball on the first base side of second. Most players will wait on the wrong side of the base which results in very slow tags. The shortstop should be on the same side of the baseline as the ball and the same side of the base as the runner.
When there is a runner at second it is the job of the shortstop to keep the runner from getting a good jump toward third on the steal. Ideally the runner will be on their way to second when the pitch is made. This can be done most easily by moving toward second just before the pitcher throws home. Since the shortstop can easily get back into position before the batter swings, the movement toward second costs the shortstop nothing and makes the runner at least think about going back a step or two.
Since the pitcher can easily look at second, the shortstop can start toward second each time the pitcher looks. Then the pitcher can judge whether it is worth a throw. There need be no signal between the two. If the runner starts back toward second when the shortstop moves the pitcher will see it an start the pitch home without having to worry about the runner stealing third.
If the pitcher throws to second to get the runner the shortstop wants to be between the pitcher and the base and on the runner’s side of the base. The throw should be made before the shortstop gets there. If the throw is online the shortstop can block the baseline while catching the ball.