Gold Glove Defense and The 6F System with Perry Hill
Welcome to The Baseball Awakening Podcast, where we dive into the raw, unfiltered, unsexy side of player development
Perry Hill, Infield Coach with Seattle Mariners. 33 Year in professional baseball and 24 years at the Big League Level. Coaches Gold Glovers at all four positions (1st, 2nd, SS, 3rd) as well as leading three different teams to League Leading Fielding Percentage.
On this episode, Host Geoff Rottmayer sits down with Perry Hill
Show Notes: In this conversation, Perry talks about:
- How he got into coaching and his style of coaching.
- His 6F system he developed to create gold glovers.
- What the eyes should be doing while fielding.
- What the mindset should be while fielding.
- and much more.
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Geoff Rottmayer: 00:00 On today’s show, we sit down with Perry Hill, Seattle Mariners infield coach, and we’re talking about the 6F system that he developed that produced gold glove infielders.
Intro: 00:12 Welcome to another episode of the baseball awakening podcast where we dive into the raw unfiltered unsexy side of player development. Get ready for some knowledge bombs with your Host Geoff Rottmayer
Geoff Rottmayer: 00:26 Welcome to the Baseball Awakening Podcast. I’m Geoff Rottmayer and today I’m sitting here with Perry Hill infield coach for the Seattle Mariners. Perry has spent 33 years in professional baseball. 24 of those years were at the big league level where he specializes that an infield mastermind. Perry had coached Gold Glover that all fourth positions, 1st base, 2nd base, Shortstop, and 3rd base, as well as leading three different teams to a league leading Beth infield percentage, the Miami Marlins 2017 the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2009 and the Detroit Tigers in 1997 Perry would also name the infield coach of the year by MLB network Players and Coaches throughout professional baseball have high praise for Perry Perry. Good morning, sir. How are you?
Perry Hill: 01:27 I am fine. Geoff, thank you for having me.
Geoff Rottmayer: 01:30 Awesome. Thank you. Thank you for coming on. You know, Perry, you developed a reputation of being one of the sharpest than Beth infield mine in all of professional baseball, but you also get a lot of prayed for being just the gray coat in general though. Can we kind of start there? Let’s just kinda start with, you know, you know, how you went about wanting to be a coach in the, and then maybe your style a little bit.
Perry Hill: 01:54 Well, number one, thanks for the compliment. I don’t know about the great coach, but I did want to, uh, I did always want to, uh, to get into coaching. Uh, I liked, I liked the teaching aspect of it. I like the relationships that you build. I like, uh, seeing people improve and an uh, and, and climb the ladder so to speak. Uh, it’s really a gratifying, not only for me, but for the player to see how they, uh, how they practice and develop a skill and take it into a major league game where it can make an impact. You know, I’ve always told my infielders that, uh, I know a lot of times you’ll go to the plate and the bases loaded and you’ll pop up or you’ll strike out or uh, and you’ll be disappointed in yourself. And you have to learn how to separate the offense and the defense. So when your attitude is when you go out into the field, there’s not let the other guy get there hit. Uh, you know that you have a thing called defensive RBIS. You can save Bruns just like you can knock them in. So I think from a coaching standpoint, uh, your attitude has to be that, uh, you know, you can never, you can never get down and you can never get too, too high. You gotta stay in the middle because a players can, can read into that and uh, it really can get into their psyche too. So my style of coaching is simply that, um, I like to teach things in progression step by step by step. Uh, I roll more ground balls probably than I hit a, I want to make sure that I see everything I need to see fundamentally before I start whacking balls at him. Uh, and I think that, uh, the player, uh, especially nowadays, uh, uh, really, uh, tends to pick up skills when they see it rather than when they hear it. You can talk to some players all day long and they may pick up one or two things, but if they see you do it, uh, I think it’s, I think they pick it up a lot quicker. And I think that’s a, another style of just, it’s just not me, it’s a lot of coaches, is that you gotta be able to demonstrate what you teach if you can’t demonstrate it yourself. There’s a lot of guys that, like I said, that can, uh, some guys can pick it up verbally, some guys can’t. So you have to be able to, uh, to demonstrate what you want. So that’s, you know, that’s kind of my style. It’s more hands on building relationships, going out at two o’clock in the afternoon where nobody’s in the ballpark one-on-one, just to make sure that you can get the, it gets your point across in your teaching tools across with no, uh, outside the servants.
Geoff Rottmayer: 04:28 Very cool. So, so you have your website, would you call gold glove deep vent.com where you lay out your stick at system? Kim, can you talk about that fixed F system and how it all came about?
Perry Hill: 04:42 Well, it came about years and years and years ago. Um, simply because, uh, you know, I, when I was growing up and, and starting to play, I had, uh, like I said, just a few minutes ago, I had a lot of coaches verbally tell me things without showing me. And it just got, you know, uh, overwhelming. Like, uh, get some, keep your arms short, get your elbow up, get your hand on top of the ball, get your hands up and get your arm up. And it goes, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa. There’s so many things. Get down and get your button down. Bend your back. Uh, but they didn’t never showed me how, and they never taught me why. They just told me those things. And so, uh, I decided that once I got through playing that I was going to come up with a system that was so easy to teach. That one word would trigger all those thoughts. So once you explained what each F meant and demonstrated it, you don’t have to go through all that. Get your arm up, bend over, get your back down and get your butt down. Uh, you’ll have to do all that again. You just have to say one word. And that’s when I came up with the success, uh, feet, field funnel, footwork, fire, follow. Um, did you want me to break those down? That’d be great. Well, you know, you always talk about, um, you know, being in motion when the balls hit and uh, the ready position, the pre-pitch movement, you know, that’s, that’s a lot of stuff to say. So my first word, my first F is feet, feet, sweat, take you to the ball. The quicker your feet are, the quicker you’re going to get to the ball. So now it’s like I can, it’s like an outline Geoff. It’s Roman numeral number one would be feet and that will go a, B and C underneath feet. But once you’ve explained the a, B, C from then on, you know, feet. So all you have to talk about, watch your feet, get your feet moving, get your feet moving. Um, so ready position, you have to be moving. You gotta be on the balls of your feet when the ball gets in the hitting zone and there’s 19,000 different ways you can do this. I’ll leave this up to the player. I give them five or six examples. They can pick which one they like, which one suits them better. Uh, I don’t want to make everybody a robot, so I let them pick and choose which one’s better, as long as they’re on the balls of their feet, on the balls in the hitting zone. And the example I use all the time is a relay race. If you’re running a four by four, a four by 400 relay and you’re in the Olympics and somebody is running to hand you the Baton and you wait until they hand you the Baton before you start running, you’re not going to be as quick as the guy who takes off running and hands and the other guy had you the Baton as you’re running. So it’s the same thing in your foot and your number one seat is that you’re going to be moving when the ball’s about to be hit. So when the balls hit, you’re able to go left or right quicker and it’s just like that relay race that I just explained. Yeah. So that’s Roman numeral number one. So from then on, you know somebody has is not, he’s not getting ready. I see that he’s flatfooted when the balls in the hitting zone, I just have to say, when you come to the dugout, I was just reminded, Hey feet, get your feet moving speech. What’s going to take you to the ball? Get your feet moving. I don’t have to sit down and just say, Hey, get your right foot. Then come up, they separate your feet. Make sure y’all know I don’t have to go through the whole explanation. It’s just a one word trigger point seat. The second half this field, and this is the one where the coach is say, uh, bend your back, get your butt down and get your hands out front. Whoa. You know, it’s just a lot of stuff to remember. So, uh, once your feet takes you to the ball, you’re ready to feel the ball. That’s the secondF sealed. So now we’ll go a, B and C underneath field is if you get into a wide base, if you put your feet two to three inches past your shoulders and it’s going to be different for everybody. It depends on how tall you are, two to three inches past your shoulder automatically when you bend down, your butt’s going to be down in your back to be flat and your hands are automatically going to be out in front. And the reason you want your hands out in front automatically is so you don’t have any blind spots. You know, to be a good hitter, Geoff, you have to see two things at the same time. You have to see the ball and the bat. If you don’t see those two things at the same time, you’re not going to hit. If you’re going to be a good consistent infielder, you see if they see two things at the same time, you have to see the ball and your glove. So if you have narrow base with your feet and you’re looking at the ball, but you look down in peripheral vision, you can’t see your, you’re going to have a blind spot about the last six or eight inches before the ball gets to you. So if that ball takes to any kind of little bitty hop, you’re not going to see it so you can’t react to it. So a lot of players and kids alike get a ball that hits him in the wrist or the or the or the heel part of the glove and they think it was a bad hop. I wasn’t a bad hop. If you measure from the heel your glove to the pocket of your glove, it’s maybe two or three inches. That’s not a bad hop. The fact is you can catch it cause you didn’t see it. So, uh, so my number twoF is field, which means I want you to break down when you’re going to feel the ball into a wide base. Make sure your feet are two to three inches past your shoulders. Automatically your ass will be down, your babble, your back will be flat and your hands will be out in front of your body where you can see the fall and the glove at the same time. So if that ball does take a little tricky hop at the end, you’ll see it, you’ll move your gloves to react to it. So a lot of times in Philadel come in or just maybe during a workout or a practice time and the ball will come up and kick off his heel, have his glove, and then I’ll just just say, I’ll just reminding him, I’ll say field field, wide base. And that’s all I have to say. That triggers the memory. The success that he knows he needs to break down wider. Maybe his feet were too narrow, where his hands weren’t out in front of his body, where he never saw that last hop. He’s got to see that last hop or see that ball all the way into his glove where he’s got to be able to see the ball in the glove and the same view from peripheral vision. Right? So that’s the field. Uh, the thirdF is funnel. Uh, so, uh, once again, that’d be Roman numeral number three for instance. And then we have a, B, and C. and any funnel I like, once the ball is in my glove, I like to bring it to the middle of my body, preferably somewhere between my stomach and my chest, right in the middle of your body. And the reason I teach that, Geoff, is because if you look at every other sport they throw, whatever they throw from that position. For instance, if you hold your hands up and you’re going to box, you’re going to throw your punch from that position. You’re not going to throw up from your belt or you’re not going to throw up from behind your body, so you’re not going to throw it over from the side. You’re not going to throw it on top by your head. You’re going to throw it from somewhere about the end of your stomach to your breastbone. Somewhere in that area is where you’re going to hold your, and that’s how you’re going to punch. That’s how you’re going to throw your punch. A quarterback goes back the past, they get the snap from the center, they hold the football in the same spot as they go back to pass a basketball and you throw the pass from the chest. Uh, this is a lot of different sports. That’s what the perfect joint position is, and then you relate it to playing catch in the backyard. If you and I were playing catch in the backyard and I’ll do a ball to the left side of your body or to the right side of your body and you caught it, the first thing you would do is bring it right back to the middle of your body. Take your other hand, take the ball out of your glove and throw it back to me. You wouldn’t take it to your waist. You wouldn’t take it to your face. You wouldn’t take it over on the side of the body. You bring it to the middle. So my point is, why would he do the same thing on the ground ball? Look at a picture. It doesn’t matter if a pitcher’s overhand pitcher, a sidearm pitcher, a submarine pitcher, they always had their hands in the middle of their body before they break. And then they have a different arm slot or different arm angle from there. But they always get the ball to the middle of their body after they’re wined up. Or if they’re even not, not even a windup guy. That’s where they hold the ball. So that that’s the perfect throwing position. So for me, I like to get the ball to the middle of the body. As soon as I get it to the middle of the body, I separate my hands, thumbs down. And this was a big point for me. I remember when I was a small kid, I had a coach tell me one time, get my arm up. And so I put my arm straight up in the air and I tried to throw, cause he didn’t tell me or he didn’t explain or he didn’t demonstrate to me what he meant. He just said, get your arm up, which means he just probably read it in the book somewhere and said, get your arm up. And expected me as a 12 year old to know what he meant. I had no idea what he meant. So that’s another reason I developed a success. So anyway, back to the funnel. So when I funnel the ball till the middle of my body and I separate sums down, there’s four things that you have to do to throw the ball consistently straight that happen automatically. So I’d never have to say, get your arm short, get your elbow up, get your hand on top of the ball. Uh, I don’t have to say any of that. All I have to say is funnel thumbs down. If you funnel the balls to the middle of your body and separate your hands, thumbs down. It does four things for you automatically Geoff. Number one, it gives you a firm front side to throw against. So if you follow the ball and your glove hands, your left hand. If you follow the ball and you take it, you separate your hands, thumbs down to even your glove hand go sums down there is your front side. If you look at every pitcher that throws the ball, they have a front side. It clears when they throw the ball automatically gets out of the way, but you have to have that arm up there to have a firm front side to be a good consistent thrower. The other three things it does is when you funnel and you separate thumbs down, it automatically makes your arms short. We as infielders don’t have time to take the ball down and up and around like a pitcher, an outfielder, a pitcher wants to do that cause he wants to create arm speed because he’s trying to throw the ball by you or create a different angle on a curve ball. A Slatter or whatever pitch and Al filler has to get down and back up cause he throws the ball further than we do. As in fillers, he’s working with usually 180 feet. He’s throwing out runners from first to third or from second to home, which is 180 feet we have in fillers can have a long arm. By the time the ground ball gets to us, it’s 90 feet from first base, from home plate to first base. By the time the ball gets to us, there are 15 to 20 feet out of the box anyway, so we’ll we’re working on 70 feet. We can’t have a big long arm action. So by funneling the ball to the middle of your body, separating sums down automatically, you’ll see your arm stops where it’s short, it never gets long. Uh, the other thing it does, it keeps your elbow up even with your shoulder. It keeps you from getting underneath the ball or on the side of the ball. That’s when people say get your arm up with a mean is they want your elbow, your throwing elbow to be the same height as your shoulder that prevents you from getting on the side of the ball or not underneath the ball. And when that happens, as you well know, Geoff, your balls gonna tail or sink, right? So by funneling to the middle of your body, separating thumbs down, it keeps your arms short and your elbow up. Now the other thing it does, the last thing, the fourth thing is it keeps your hand on top of the ball and you want your hand on top of the ball for one main reason as when you get to the release point, your hands, your fingers, and your hand is always behind the ball always. So when you’re behind something, that’s when you get your power. If, if I had a big 500 pound, uh, uh, barbell laying across my chest, I maybe I couldn’t push it up, but you put that same barbell and let me stand behind it. I can probably push it because I have leverage because I’m behind it. I’m stronger when I’m behind anything. Uh, so it’s important that when you take your, when you, when you funnel them sums down the reason that thumbs down, that part of it is it automatically puts your hand on top of the ball. So when you go through your throwing motion, your hands always on the side. If you go back on your funnel and you take your thumbs and it doesn’t, you take your thumb wherever you want to take it up in the air or on the side, number one, your elbow is going to be low and your hands going to be on side of the ball. And those are the two things that are going to cause your ball to move. We as infielders don’t want our ball to move. We want our ball to be straight. That’s something maybe a pitcher might do cause he wants the ball to move dark, think curve, whatever. We want the ball to go straight. So once again, so funnel instead of saying all of that stuff, what I just said, once I demonstrate it, and once I tell you the reasons. Now my trigger point from now on is all I have to do is say funnel sums down, funnel, thumbs down. If I see an infielder that catches a ball and takes the ball straight down, it’s down there by his leg. That’s too long. I can tell him funnel, thumbs down, tunnel thumbs down. It’ll remind me him, that’ll tell him and remind him, keep my arm short. Automatically my elbow will be the same height as my shoulder. Automatically my hand will be on top of the ball and automatically I’ll have a front side to throw again. So the third EPIs funnel, the fourth asks us footwork. Uh, I won’t get into like all the different kinds of foot work. I’ll tell you just the, the part that I teach, uh, just a speed this up a little bit. Uh, I teach if you’re running in a thrower, uh, once you funnel and separate the ball, now your feet are moving. I teach what I call the replacement work. So if you’re a rod handed thrower, once you funnel and your thumbs down, your feet start to move, your right foot goes where your left foot is and your left foot goes to your target. If you’re lefthanded thrower, just be just the opposite as you funnel thumbs down and to your left foot, to your right foot, the right foot to at your target. So they both move at the same time and that creates the two DS distance and direction you have to get, you have to shorten your distance to your target and you have to get your left shoulder pointed at your target to ensure that your ball goes where you want it to go. So if you replace your feet with that formula right to left, left the target, or if your left hand is left to right, right, the target, you’re always getting the Tuesdays distance and direction. Uh, at the same time, the guys who crossed her feet before they throw, they don’t get both DS at the same time. They may get one of them, but they don’t get both of them. And like I said earlier, once that ground balls hit and it gets to us, we got about 70 feet to work with. If you don’t get the two DS at the same time, every play for you is going to be bang, bang or guys are going to beat, beat out a beat out the play. You’ve got to get the two DS at the same time. So once again, the formula is right to left, left to your target. If you’re a left-handed thrower, it’s left to right, right to your target and both feet move at the same time. Uh, so the fifthF is fire. Uh, when I was developing the six, I could say that I was going to have five apps in a T. that just didn’t sound right, that wasn’t catchy enough for me. That fire is throw. Now we’re ready to throw the ball. All this stuff has worked where we’ve got our feet moving to get through the ball. We’re fielding the ball and a wide base. We funneled the ball cause we’re in the perfect joint position. Our perfect foot work gives us distance and direction. Now we’re ready to fire the ball. I’m gonna leave fire the ball. We got a really good chance. Now if we do all those previous four reps, this balls will be straight as a string right at our target. So now we’re going to fire the ball. The sixth fifth is follow. Once we fire the ball, when when we feel the ball release out of our hand, we want to take one or two more steps toward our target that ensures that our H our arm goes all the way through like a pitcher’s follow through. It goes all the way through and just increases your carry on the ball and it increases your accuracy. And Geoff, it also eliminates the recoil will have some guys that get right to where they release the ball, but then their arm snaps back. That way you’re not finishing your throw. You leave a lot of balls up, you don’t finish it. And sometimes a ball will tail. And the other thing is it’s just hard on your arm. Put stress on your elbow and your shoulder. So the sixthF is follow and the ABC underneath that is you want to have it, gives you carry it, gives you accuracy and then eliminates or eliminates the possibility of using of you recoiling. So once again, now the six steps are feet, field funnel but work, fire follow and once you demonstrate this and once you walk through it with the player in a progression type, but I just did there in about 15 minutes. Now it’s a one word trigger point. All you have to do is say one word. And uh, instead of saying a bunch of long stuff, because once a game is going on or once you have practice time, you know, you really don’t have a lot of time to sit there and just explain the things over and over and over and over again. Uh, so I like to use the success because it has a one word trigger point that uh, that key is that those fundamentals in the player’s mind and then they can reproduce the skill.
Geoff Rottmayer: 21:48 Very cool. So I, I know you’re kind of pressing on time, so a couple more things. If I could, when, when you’re in the ready position, what are your I do on, you know, what are you looking at? And you’ve mentioned a couple of times the ball into the hitting zone. Can you kinda elaborate what you mean on the ball and the hitting zone for the people that are listening?
Perry Hill: 22:09 Yeah, so a lot of times you’ll find players that the coaches will say, and I’ve had coaches come to me and say, you know, I got this certain player that he’s late. It seems like he’s always a step late going to the ball. Excuse me. Uh, what I think my first thing I asked that player is what they’re looking at. And sometimes a player, I’ll follow the ball out of the pitcher’s hands and they’ll follow the ball with their eyes all the way to the plate. Well, you’re going to be late because your head’s always moving. Your head’s moving. You’re trying to track the ball and you’re always going to be a tad late. Uh, what you want to do is you want to figure out, you want to focus in on a S on a spot right in front of home plate. You know about a foot or so in front of home plate because that’s where the, where the bat means. The ball is going to be usually out in front there and so you’re going to focus right there. So as the pitcher starts his windup in his move and you’ve been your back and you’d do your ready position, however you choose to do it, to get on the balls of your feet. You want the balls of your feet to land, but your head is looking still right in front of home plate, a few inches or so in front of home plate. That’s where the ball’s going to beat, make contact with a bat and you’re going to be able to see it and make contact and read it a lot quicker than that. Then the player who watches the ball out of the pitcher’s hand and all the way to a home plate, he’s going to be a tad late. Then the guy who focuses in on the front of home plate.
Geoff Rottmayer: 23:35 Very, very cool. And then one last thing. What, uh, what, what, what, what should be a good, what’s a good mindset? What, when the guy didn’t were right to feel what should be going, what should they be thinking about or not about?
Perry Hill: 23:47 Well, if you want to be a good infielder, you’re going to be thinking about, hit the ball to me. I want the ball hit it, hit it to me. If you’ve got one of those a as dealers, they don’t want the ball. They’re not going to be a very good consistent infielder. You’ve gotta want every ball hit to you. That’s your mindset. Hit it to me because you’re out. You better hit it somewhere else. Don’t hit it to me. If he hit it to me, you’re out in your mind. You’re thinking, hit me the ball. I want the ball hit to me. Bases loaded, two outs, hit the ball to me. I want to make this play. You’re not going to score. So your mindset has to be that you’re going to make every play and you’re going to make it every time, no matter what the situation is, and you want the ball hit to you.
Geoff Rottmayer: 24:31 Awesome. Well, Perry, you gave it a lot of awesome information here in a short amount of time, so I really appreciate you coming on and then finding it away.
Perry Hill: 24:43 Okay, Geoff, my pleasure. Thank you very much for having me.
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