662 V2 ch134
Safe to say, I wasn't as smooth as Chandler. After he showed us what he expected from us, we lined up across from him and his bucket of balls. I wanted to be in the back of the line so I could see everyone else go, but Noah wouldn't allow that. He was eager to start practicing even though I didn't think he needed it. He got in line first and dragged me along to be second.
I glanced at Travis behind me. "Want to cut?"
Travis laughed. "And go after Noah? I think not."
Ah, I'm going to look even worse? I sighed.
Travis gave me a pat on the shoulder. "Don't worry. It's practice. No grading, right?"
"You embarrassed us in the hitting stations yesterday." Adam spoke up behind Travis. "It's our turn to feel better about ourselves."
Chandler started the drill with Noah going first. The ball was rolled, Noah almost copied Chandler's example perfectly. Backhand, transition, and throw. He jogged to the back of the line and then it was my turn.
I hardly ever had to use my backhands in games and it wasn't on the top of my list of things to practice. I just have to take it slow and try not to get tripped up. Unfortunately, thinking about tripping made me trip. Chandler had rolled the ball and I tried my best to get low, snatch the ball, and then the trouble started. My legs got crossed up, and my throw was terrible as I lost my balance. I landed in the grass and my throw didn't make it to Chandler.
I felt my face heat up as I heard a few laughs from the line. I was terrified to face Chandler so I hurried to get up and rushed to the end of the line.
"Hold up." Chandler called out. "Jake, come back."
I gulped. I guess the embarrassment isn't over just yet. I turned back to face him, but didn't make direct eye contact.
"Travis, go over to the bucket of balls." Chandler instructed, walking over to me.
"Yes!" Travis hustled to the other cone and grabbed a baseball.
"Jake, eyes on me." Chandler commanded.
I swallowed a lump in my throat and looked at him.
Chandler waved his glove. "There are two types of backhand. Short and long. It's based on your positioning and throwing. As a second baseman, it's probably rare for you to do a long throw, but it's still important to practice. Watch." He bent his left knee to the grass and put out his glove, mimicking a backhanded catch. "Left knee down for short backhands or if you're more skilled in transitioning the ball from glove to throwing hand." He switched and bent his right knee to the grass. "From the right knee, you'll have to take an extra step to make your throw, but it means you'll have more time to make the throw."
Chandler motioned at Travis. "Roll me one!"
Travis did so.
"It'll be a short backhand." Chandler said as he got low. He picked up the ball with his glove and froze. "Look at my legs. My right knee is bent, left knee is down. So now as I transition, I'm also turning my hips to where I want to throw the ball." He explained his every movement. "My back foot is already set and I make my throw, as accurately as possible." He threw it back to Travis. "Another Travis, but a little further out."
Travis nodded. He rolled one a further and faster.
Chandler got there, and got down to backhand the ball. "Left knee bent, right knee down, almost like you're doing a lunge." He held his positioning so everyone could see. "As you come up, make sure hips are facing your target, your right leg is back, then make an accurate throw." He threw the ball back to Travis. "Thanks Travis. Get back in line."
Travis nodded and jogged to the front of the line, looking eager to try out Chandler's demonstration now.
Chandler looked at me. "This is the time for learning and growth. It's okay to get flustered and make errors as long as you take away a learning experience from it." He looked at the rest of the group. "That goes for everyone. Don't be afraid to try something new and mess up. Come to me if you have questions. This is the time to do so."
Chandler went back to his bucket of balls and called for Travis to go.
I went to the back of the line, less embarrassed and more inspired.
Noah grinned. "Hey, Chandler isn't so bad after all. Even though he's only a player, he's actually coaching too. I didn't think he would be the type."
I shook my head. Me neither. Chandler didn't even waste time in warmups so I didn't expect him to take the time to be more thorough in his demonstration. I started to practice lunging.
Noah looked at me. "What are you doing..?"
"Stretching. My legs are tired." I explained. "I want to be able to do this well. I don't want to trip up again." I pretended to field a ball and made an imaginary throw. All my muscles screamed in protest.
Noah laughed at my distressed face. "I'll show you some of the yoga exercises I did last night. It might help. Also, stretching in the shower. Maybe you can get an ice bath if you talk to Zeke."
I nodded. I would do anything and everything to help my body feel better.
"Wow, who knew Chandler would actually do some coaching?" Travis had joined the back of the line with us after completing his turn. "I thought for sure that his first example would have been his only demonstration."
"Right!" Noah nodded in agreement.
Travis gave me a pat on the shoulder again. "I guess it's all thanks to you. Thanks for making an error." He laughed.
I pushed his hand away and frowned.
"Be careful about poking the hornets nest." Noah laughed at him. "Jake can still embarrass you in the cages and anything to do with a bat."
Travis stopped laughing. "Sorry, Jake. Just joking." I gave him a nod and he sighed with relief.
The line moved along quickly and it was soon round two. Noah was still as smooth as his first throw, no hiccups or stutter steps.
I tried not to think too much about it. I had to stay focused on myself. Chandler rolled the ball away from me. I got low, doing a complete lunge, and fielded the ball. Transition to throwing hand while getting my body to face Chandler. I made an awkward throw, but it got to him.
"Better." Chandler nodded after catching my throw.
I smiled and headed to the back of the line.
Noah held out his hand for a high five. "So much better. Like Chandler said, it's not about how it looks. As long as you get the runner out, then who cares? It's not a beauty pageant."
I made a face. "I don't want to hear that from you."
The guys in front of Noah heard me and started to laugh.
"If there were points for style, Noah would be leading."
"The freshmen at my school is nowhere near as good. It's abnormal."
"Hey!" Noah cut them off. "I'm no longer a freshman." He stood proudly. "I'm an incoming sophomore."
I nodded. Me too. We're no longer scrubs.