Lefties Do Not Play Shortstop in Baseball

by April
(New Hampshire)

Turning Two: No Lefties at Shortstop

Turning Two: No Lefties at Shortstop

I was practically born on a baseball field, my Dad was an amazing coach but I am having an issue with my son’s minor league coach.

My son is only 9 years old but he is big for his age and is athletic but he is left handed and the coach for some reason thinks that he and another left
handed child on the team should play shortstop and 3rd base.

It drives me nuts.

It takes at least several extra seconds for kids at this level to realize they have to turn around in order to throw the ball to first and the coaches will blame the kids if they don't get the out at first when it is not their fault.

Dave's Response:

The Baseball Shortstop

The baseball shortstop is one of most difficult baseball positions on the baseball field to play.

Normally on most baseball teams there will be very few players who will have what it takes to play shortstop in some kind of consistent manor. The skill set and athleticism required to play shortstop position is rarely found in youth baseball kids.

You are right on that lefties should not play baseball shortstop or 3rd base.

The only positions lefty baseball players should play are pitcher, firstbase and outfield positions. The problem is that so few players can play shortstop and third base there is a supply and demand problem.

Youth baseball coaches often do not know that lefties should play only lefty positions. If a youth baseball coach has a good athletic player who happens to be lefthanded throwing the coaches are commonly inclined to place the kids in the infield positions like baseball shortstop because there may not be any righthanded throwers that can play shortstop adequately.

Therefore, when we combine the lack of knowledge from the youth baseball coaches with the lack of talented righthanded players we get lefthanded shortstops and thirdbasemen.

You will often see lefthanded catchers in youth baseball, too, because

of the same reasons.

Player Development vs. Lefties Playing Shortstop

The youth baseball argument
that I fight so hard for on my website and baseball consulting is simply what this is about.

1. We have
youth baseball coaches that do not understand what positions lefties should be playing.

2. The reasons lefties
play pitcher, 1st base and outfield are because we are trying to develop baseball players to play for the local high school teams. In higher baseball levels these are the only positions lefties will play.

3. We have youth
baseball coaches and youth baseball leagues that do not have the mindset to develop baseball players to someday play in high school baseball.

4. Youth baseball coaches also
put winning over player development. Coaches will play lefties out of position and take away the opportunity to get experience at the positions they should be playing.

In addition, the righthanded players do not get the opportunity to get playing time and experience at shortstop and 3rdbase in order to develop their own skills at righthanded positions.

Perfect Storm is a Red Flag

When you see lefties playing shortstop, thirdbase and catcher in youth baseball leagues you know you have the perfect storm coming together and it is not good.

• Ignorant baseball coaches

• Win-at-all-Costs
baseball coaches.

• Lack of
a Player Development system.

• Poor coaching training
or none at all.

• No local player development
system to prepare players for the high school team.

• Not allowing
baseball players of essential playing time at baseball positions they will need to play in higher levels of baseball.

• Coaches putting
winning ahead of player development.

Lefty Baseball Shortstops is a Lose-Lose

There is not one good reason or argument for lefthanded baseball players playing out of position.

It is a lose-lose for everyone involved. Baseball coaches are going to have to find and develop a righthanded player to play baseball shortstop and leave the lefthanded players in the usual positions on the ball field.

Comments for Lefties Do Not Play Shortstop in Baseball

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

May 21, 2019
That's wrong NEW
by: A lefty softball player

That's wrong,terribly wrong I'm a lefty,and I play softball and guess where I play the best at, shortstop,catcher,and 2nd I see no problem with lefties playing anywhere they play just as much as right handed girl like me I've made some of my best plays at shortstop and catcher I'm always first pick to go to those places so I see no wrong in a lefty playing shortstop or any other place other than 1B P and OF.

May 08, 2019
We're talking about 8 year olds
by: Anonymous

Trying to compare 7U - 10U baseball and College/MLB baseball is hilarious. Any youth coach who is all wrapped up on what happens at a college or professional level, is missing the point of youth baseball entirely.

A kid, whether lefty or righty, who plays ALL POSITIONS, will develop better as a ball player. They will see the game from different angles, they will understand positioning for relays better, they will understand bat swing timing better, they're lateral movement will be better, their fielding will be better, etc.... And when the time comes, to pigeon hole a lefty at a certain position (which I said eventually happens, and rightfully so) they are better ball players.

Also, I stand behind my comments about lefty catchers regardless of what happens at any level of baseball....youth - MLB.

May 08, 2019
Dear no name
by: David

If lefties play any positions besides 1B, P and OF then why do you never see lefties play anything but 1B, P, OF in MLB, college and high school? Are you not curious why lefties only play 1B, P, OF on the 60/90 fields? You better be curious and have a good argument for your case. There is no case to argue in higher baseball because it never happens....I wonder why?

May 08, 2019
Whats your name?
by: David

You forgot to leave your name. I look at youth baseball as a player development tool to prep kids of playing on the 60/90 fields and into high school. How many lefties in MLB, college and high school play anything but 1B, P, OF? Name one. There are many reasons why they don't.

May 07, 2019
Let's get out of the stoneage
by: Anonymous

Developing a lefty doesn't mean to cram him into 1 of 3 positions. Trying to develop a kid, who happens to be lefty involves playing them at any position they are good at. That's what youth baseball is all about. If a youth player is lefty, and is athletic enough to play short, play him at short. He's getting more development there than being stuck in the outfield with little action, or at first where his backup may not even be able to consistently make the throw. It develops range, it develops an ability to field a ball, it develops arm strength (as opposed to sitting on first). I am speaking for developing kids who are 6-10. After that, the throwing argument for 3rd and SS is very valid, and they don't need to play there. 2nd is still fine in my opinion for a few more years, but the player should really be developing strong outfield skills as well as 1st.

Also, the argument for a lefty not catching is old and tired. It's for lazy coaches, or old timers who are just stuck in their ways. There is zero reason a lefty shouldn't catch. And using some "they're going to steal 3rd base easier" excuse is dumb. One of my best catchers is a lefty. He's gritty, a grinder, good arm, and understands pitch calling very well. He's a great catcher, and because he just happens to throw with his left hand, doesn't change that. I'd encourage him to play catcher for as long as he can (not for as long as he's allowed by some bozo coach)

May 02, 2019
Lol wut?
by: Anonymous

I can't tell if this is a joke or not? A 9 year old can't play shortstop because he's a lefty? That's the dumbest shit in the world. If you take youth baseball that seriously, then there are real issues here outside of little league. It's a game.

Apr 05, 2019
Proof Lefties Play 1b Pitcher & OF
by: David

Thank you for standing up for lefties. The proof comes from MLB...why do you see lefties play 1b, Pitcher and OF only? Lefthanded throwers cannot efficiently and safely play 2B, SS or 3B at higher levels of baseball. That is the proof. Nothing personal. Just look at MLB and watch what they do.They have really smart baseball people.

Apr 05, 2019
Show me the studies that give you proof
by: Anonymous

2 arguments-
1) lefties should play any position - most of us lefties have played every position along the way because lefties are most of the time better athletes accomplished earlier in life. It’s the bs old school close minded excuse of ‘it’s not safe for their arm’ you coaches give so you don’t have to coach more or work harder trying to train that lefty. To a right handed coach, lefty’s do everything backwards and an ambidextrous coach should be able to see it that way. So, is it the coaching or the player? All a left handed has had to do their whole life is adapt and overcome because it’s a right handlers world. This right handed coach is saying that if I put 9 lefty’s on the ball field, his righty’s would have an advantage over my left handed team right? Why I would have 5 players out of position to his potentially/possibly/maybe not really we’ll Just quote arm danger without any sort of scientific information to back him up but someone told him so - 4 players out/in position. So, since every ballplayer, left or right, wants to play short stop you coaches who get a lefty whom is your best athlete and capable of playing short, simply turn your head upside down and coach it as stopshort, because that’s what you are doing to our youth and the dreams of all lefthanders. You have no proof other than tradition backing up your, "lefties don’t play short". I’d take my 9 lefties against your 9 righty’s at any age from the crib to the grave. Here’s my proof backed up by no studies like your protecting his arm BS a) lefties are better athletes earlier that’s why you see them in teeball, little league, and all levels of pony, Bobby Sox , whatever field-ball-mitt-bat games that exist all over the world. B) lefties have a proven better imagination and thus can adapt to dealing with a close minded right handed coach who is too lazy to teach the position from both sides. C) the best player ever to have walked within the foul lines was left handed, Babe Ruth. Not only did he hit lefty with effectiveness, he played defense at at a high level and he pitched as well at a high level. But players don’t do that anymore because coaches don’t coach that way anymore. That would require good imagination, thoughfullness, belief, and creativity not many good ball coaches have because they cannot think outside the box. My proof, when was the last time you saw a lefty infielder other than 1st in the bigs? Lefties are 10% of the walking earth but up to 30% of MLB players. Is lefties are by far more gifted by percentage and thus, much better athletes by percentage. How’s that for proof?
And argumentn#2- really c’mon really? Who wants to lose because coaches son is right handed and gets to play short while there are 2 or 3 lefties that can do it better or is put at first having to field bad throws by the righty’s. Lose, you want to teach/coach a bunch of kids, which is tough enough, and lose to prove a point that you can be a better coach because baseball says so or your peers won’t call you a dufus? You’d Be willing to lose because of that? Frankly, d never want you as my coach, my child’s coach, or give any validity to your tactics, lessons, or ability to relate to any athlete anytime. You are the parent that says, "because I said so". Get out of your right handed mind, tap into that imagination of yours if any exists and realize, what you call a can of corn might be creamed corn, popped corn, or corn on the cob to anyone , including lefty’s. Is the hall of fame never going to induct someone because they are right or left handed? Keep coaching that right handed game while losing trying to get all those righty’s to play their position. Hey, life ain’t fair, specially when you are coached by a right handed losing coach. Yes, I like to win at all costs within the rules of any game, not by the rules of coaching non dufus baseball, really.
Argument 3 - Good job coach, and what do you think about lefthanded impires? Are they playing out of position? ( those that find this website helpful are more than likely right handed, believe there’s only one way to accomplish the same thing, and struggle to think outside any box, including the batters box, mail box, or is already dumber than a dufus sitting on a box rocks. Imagine if we ever elected a left handed president. Whoops we have already, several time over. Someone has to think outside box. )

Apr 01, 2019
Here's a counterpoint:
by: Lefty Shortstop

So, I actually played shortstop in majors and high school, and I'm a left thrower, right batter.

This position is possible for play as a lefty but it requires some pretty serious improvisation and specific training to make it work.

Let's talk first about the advantages of left-throwing, and it has everything to do with being able to crowd 2nd and still play the middle. So, having your hand on the right allows you to take grounders farther away from you, and so you can crowd in on 2nd more (useful for on-base plays and tag outs running towards third), or just field things more effectively from a more typical shortstop position.

The obvious disadvantages have been mentioned prior, you need to prepare your stance which takes crucial time needed off the play. Bad thing. However, nobody said you have to catch, then get into position to throw. You train yourself to do both at the same time. You lunge in with your right leg while going for the catch. Yes, this is hard, it requires practice. Lots of practice. It's tougher to do fielding the ball square, where you put your body in front of the ball, and takes more practice to learn. It's easier if you go to catch with your arm extended away from your body. But you have to plant into a throwing position to make this work. However, it does work. And a good enough ground ball fielder who is left-handed can absolutely learn to mitigate their positional disadvantage, particularly if they get comfortable doing things unconventionally.

I never took it to college level, but I was a decent shortstop. I minimized my weaknesses as best I could, and exploited my strengths, and there were plenty of times where that did actually help make the difference.

Nov 01, 2017
Try it
by: April Cochrane

I find it funny that some of the comments start with I don’t understand or I can’t see where they would have a problem my son has had an advantage I was raised by a little league coach by the time I was 6 I was helping my dad teach 14 and 15 year old boys how to play a position. I have thought my lefty how to play every position so that he can help his teammates. But those who can’t see the problem find a left handed glove and someone that won’t take it easy hitting to you and then tell me the best position for a lefty to play

Oct 31, 2017
Lefties playing Shortstop
by: David

HI Stephen
Keep in mind your child is 8. Age 8 is not real baseball yet. When real baseball starts at age 13 on the larger 90' diamonds it will become very clear why lefties play 1B, P and OF.

Watch high school, college and professional teams and see where the lefties play.

So why not start them early mastering the positions that they will play if they reach the high school baseball funnel.

Thank you for your service to baseball
Dave Holt

Oct 29, 2017
I complete don't understand this philosophy for youth lefties
by: Steven

I think this theory in Youth baseball is made to discriminate against lefties. My son is 8, left handed, and can play almost any position on the field including catcher better than his peers. For him to get playing time in certain position, I have had to coach the teams myself. So you guys, who say I am completely stupid, when a right handed short stop has to chase a ground toward center field, to throw to first base he has to to turn completely around. a right hand second basebase and right handed short stop has the same problems as a left hander going to third, no one talks about that.

Sep 30, 2017
Why left us can't play as or 3rd
by: Anonymous

So the MLB is discriminating against left us is what your saying. Well I am a lefty and I can play those positions as well as anyone alive. Yes what your saying is true but discriminating to left us because right hander play in what you call the lefty position all the time.I'm just saying don't hold a left hander down by saying they can only play in these positions.. I do coach baseball now and all my player are taught how to play every single position. Thanks

Aug 27, 2017
evidence for SS
by: David

The evidence is in MLB, college ball, high school. There are zero SS that are lefty. Anytime a ball is chopped on the ground where the SS has to charge and throw on the run its game over. Any ball hit to the SS right it is game over.

Lefties cannot go in the hole and transfer the body into throwing position without compromising their arm position. Higher level baseball people see a lefty at SS and you (coach) are considered a 'dufus'.

It is a trigger that someone coaching does not know what they are doing.

Aug 25, 2017
Lefties at Shortstop
by: Paincake

I don't really fully grasp the rationale for a lefty not being an option for shortstop. In a turn two situation their momentum is giving them an advantage. Especially if they are having to leap and throw.

I suppose I see the problem when they are tossing it to the 2nd baseman for turn two.

However, on a typical ground ball to the short stop there is no "straighter" throw on the field (meaning there is the least turn). So on a typical 6-3 throw... it shouldn't matter which arm is throwing.

Could someone please provide real evidence that lefties shouldn't play shortstop?

May 24, 2017
Tried and Tested baseball
by: David

Baseball has been around well over 100 years. It is a battle tested game. It has proven over time that lefties are best suited to play the game as a pitcher, 1B and OF. We can try to find exceptions in the youth baseball world but higher level baseball people dont try to mess with what works. There is no middle ground here. Lefties will have the greatest success at P, 1B and OF so go ahead and groom them for those positions. If they end up reaching HS baseball they will be very prepared.

May 24, 2017
Moms know!
by: Lefty life

My son plays JV High School ball, has played since age 4.(Lefty) My other son played till age 15, also since age 4.(righty) Knowing what I know, seeing what I've seen, seconds count on a double play, so when a righty can catch, pivot, & throw naturally, that will have a better release than a lefty doing the same. See, the trajectory changes because it's the opposite hand which in turn slows the momentum by maybe 1/2 second, then the release is slowed by maybe 1/2 second, there's your second...missed the tag, and that can be frustrating to a kid. They don't know it's because their arm was on the opposite side of the throw. They just think they're clumsy & the other guy is better. Some kids for sure can make up that speed...and sure enough, I think at some point every ball player should play short so they get a good appreciation for how shortstop runs the field. But use discression. I didn't like it when my son got put on 3rd, it drove me crazy...it's not a natural position for a lefty to have to throw from, but you take your place on the field and during that time, he was the only one who could get the ball from 3rd to 1st. So, Agreed...pitcher, 1st, right, maybe center for lefties...but when they're kiddos, let them have fun & get a true appreciation for the whole field. Oh, BTW he's pitcher, 1st & occasionally center..it all works out.

May 24, 2017
Oop lefties can gain key skills at lower levels.
by: Father on a lefty

I mostly agree with this article with the exception that lefties playing out of position in youth baseball may actually be gaining key skills for the future.

My son is 8 and a lefty. Right now he is playing machine pitch and spends a majority of his time in the outfield because a) he is a lefty and b) he can throw it from the fence to second or third. But he still needs to learn to be more aggressive towards fielding the ball.

So when the team has a decent advantage the coach puts his at 3rd... Why? Simply because being in the infield at all helps increase awareness, aggression to the ball, and overall fielding as the balls come in a lot hotter/reaction time.

These skills are essential is he ever wants to transition to pitcher later. Think about it, pitcher is the shortest distance between the batter and anyone else in the field except the catcher.

May 23, 2017
Left handed shortstops
by: Anonymous

Totally disagree. My left handed grandson is the best player on his little league team and he plays shortstop. He never has a problem throwing. A good athlete can do it, believe me.

May 22, 2017
thank you
by: Jennifer

thank you for writing this. As a mom of a 6yr old lefty, my son has so far been put on 3rd, catcher and the bench. His coach alternates the 2 stronger players on first and pitcher. I thought it was just me thinking it wasn't right and my son should learn lefty positions. After reading this I now know im not crazy and his coach just wants to win while my child is not having fun anymore.

May 10, 2017
dont be a dufus
by: David

You are not doing any favors to kids playing lefties out of position. It is dangerous and is not done a a good high school level or higher. So just don't do it at all. If you are lacking righthanded players with infield talent then you need to get to work and help them get better.

May 04, 2017
Oh geez.
by: Anonymous

A lefty at shortstop that is out of position is going to struggle with a ball deep in the hole in the same way that a righty at third will struggle on a ball hit hard to his left, but the lefty at short is also going to be able to turn a double play easier. A lot easier.

He's ready to throw to 1st without having to do the half turn that a righty has to do from short.

Lefties at 2nd are going to have a tough time on a hard hit ball to their right, because they'll need to make the half turn to throw to first. Additionally, they'll have to reach across their body and backhand anything hit to their left.

Lefties at 3rd are going to get eaten up on bunts because they're going to do a half turn to gather themselves to throw to first. They may not have time to do that on a bunt.

As a catcher, righties throw around lefties all of the time. It's nothing but footwork. Take the time to teach the lefty how to throw around the runner like you'd teach a righty to - just backwards. Also, if someone steals third, its generally on the pitcher. The only thing I can think of where a lefty would have any real disadvantage is would be on plays at the plate, where they would be forced to reach across themselves to apply the tag. But I don't see that as enough of an issue do discourage a left handed catcher.

In summary, I would not hesitate to have a left handed catcher or shortstop if necessity dictated it, but would never have a left handed 3rd baseman and I would highly discourage a left handed 2nd baseman.

May 02, 2017
Lefties playing 3B
by: David

Yes I get it that many kids playing on the 'big field' cannot throw the ball across the field in the air. I still would play the game the way it is designed. Lefties play 1B, P and OF.

You could keep posted here and join me in my throwing development system.

You could teach them my throwing mechanics and methods--coming soon too.

Have them play closer to the batter to cut down the throwing distance.

It is just too risky to have lefties have to throw across their body or going into field a slow roller, or bunt, or make a throw from the hole or turn a double play. The game was just not designed for lefties to play out of position.

You may have to sacrifice some games to keep kids safe and get the righties to start throwing the ball harder and farther.

Apr 25, 2017
Lefty infield
by: Anonymous

Here's the thing, on the8th grade team I coach I have 3 lefties - who happen to have the best arms. Half of my righties can't make the throw to third on the full size field. I have no choice but to put a lefty at third.

Mar 27, 2017
Lefty Positions for Low information coach
by: David

Dear Anonymous,
It is not that lefties cannot play infield. They can but you are putting them in harms way. How is a lefty going to turn the pivot on a double play without having to twist around with extra steps.

In addition, you cannot safely turn your body toward 1B to get lined up to make you throw without major contortions and extreme stress on ones throwing arm.

Example: SS goes to their right and fields a ball in the hole. Now imagine the effort to get the feet and body pointed back toward 1B. For one it's too slow, secondly, it is not a natural healthy arm slot to throw from.

There is zero discrimination here. The proof is in the fact that playing lefties anywhere besides P, OF, !B is never done anytime in higher levels of the game--because it is extremely dangerous to the throwing arm and it takes too long to make the throws.

Please leave us you name next time if you are so convinced of your argument. In the meantime--don't be a Dufus baseball coach.

Mar 22, 2017
Leftys can play infield
by: Anonymous

There are some exceptions to any rule. For example my some is a left handed thrower and plays second base on a 14 U travel team and I have yet to see a right handed player come close to making the infield plays and throws that he has made a playing second base. I think that if a player is atheltic and disciplined enough, he could play infield position. The rule has become a discriminating option due to beliefs and not actual proof. We can't say that a lefty can't play infield if we don't give them the chance to show they can't play those positions instead of just assuming they can't.

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Ask the Pro here at Coach and Play Baseball.

Baseball Impossible: Player Development Make-Over

Build Your Own Culture of Player Development
Increase Your Players FUN-Level

6-DVD Video Set Building Your Complete Player Development System

Click to Order

Audio CD Format Click Here

Coaching 6-DVD Box Set

Yes Dave,  I Want to Help My Players Enjoy the GAME

Coaching little league baseball & youth baseball can be a blast or could be a  Tough Gig.

Who in their right mind would come back year after year and have boring baseball practice and never improve their baseball skills? and get yelled at by adults?

Baseball Coaching Videos: Watch over 6 hours of tips on coaching approach, style, philosophy, and my unique player development system. 

Youth baseball careers are short-lived so lets make it count for our players. What do players really want out of playing baseball?

I want to Find Out More about the 6 DVD Player Development System

Sign Up for Free Newsletter & Bonus
PLUS I'll send you my
'38 Point Hitting Cheat Sheet'
I do my best to send you my newsletter about once a month. I might send you some additional announcements at times to keep you informed on new stuff that might help you Build Your Culture of Player Development.

Newsletter Sign Up