There are a myriad of hitting tools but I came across a fielding tool early this year that caught my eye. It's the Libke Pro, a fielding training device designed to help players put their hand inside their glove in the proper position—that is, with the palm out.
I wrote about this proper hand position inside the glove in a previous blog post. In that post, I showed how every position in the major leagues, including pitchers and catchers, wears their glove with the palm out. No exceptions.
I actually was first alerted to this technique by Libke Pro at a trade show booth at the 2017 ABCA Convention in Anaheim, CA. I was demo'd what they called at the time the Libke Pro Flex Fielder (I think they've since dropped the "Flex Fielder" moniker and just call it the "Libke Pro"). It was a stiff, padded apparatus that you wear on your fielding hand that does two key things:
- forces your hand into the proper glove presentation (which is bent wrist)
- also forces your palm to stay out of the inside of your glove
("Glove presentation", btw, simply refers to how is the glove "presented" to the ball as the ball approaches the fielder. In other words, what does the fielder do with the glove when the ball arrives? You may have noticed Billy Boyer mention on the podcast that he's ok with a "glove roll" for glove presentation, where you "unfurl" your glove in a sort of Spider-Man web shooting form.)
I tried it on and it definitely works as advertised. The apparatus does force your wrist into a bent position and it does force your palm to stay outside of the glove.
The product feels sturdy so it doesn't feel cheaply made, nor does it feel like it will compromise its shape with normal use. I couldn't tell without tearing off the padding but it felt like metal construction inside the padding. The wrap around the forearm felt comfortable with no rough seams or stitching.
The Libke Pro is an intriguing product. But I wondered if using the product was the only way to truly promote that so-called "perfect glove position."
My oldest son later told me the easiest way to keep your palm out of the inside of your glove is to put both your pinkie and ring finger in the pinky hole in your glove, your middle finger in the ring finger of your glove, and your index finger in the middle finger of your glove. In other words, put your last two fingers in the last slot and move all the other fingers down one slot in your glove so that the index finger slot in your glove is empty.
By wearing your glove this way, your palm will automagically stay outside your glove. And this technique works on any glove, youth or adult. Free. No tool needed.
Now, wearing your glove this way does NOT promote a bent wrist glove presentation to the ball. It just keeps your palm out. So wearing your glove this way only does one of the two key things the Libke Pro does. But then again, the Libke Pro is $90. Personally, I can manually teach my kids to bend their wrist when presenting their glove to the ball in order to save $90.
Another issue I have is that in one of the videos on the Libke Pro web site, it mentions how the Libke Pro "automatically adjusts body posture into an athletic stance" and that "perfect glove presentation and body posture leads to better footwork to field a ground ball."
I'm not so sure about that. I've seen kids with great glove presentation and body posture but their footwork when fielding a ground ball still looks awkward. I've also seen kids with great glove presentation but an unathletic stance. I'm not convinced that one leads to the other and I'm fairly skeptical about the term "automatically". The fact remains that arms can move independently of the torso and legs, so forcing the arm & wrist into a certain position does not automatically move the rest of the body.
Props to Libke Pro for putting a spotlight on the need for "perfect glove position." Before Libke pointed it out to me, I hadn't heard anyone teach this.
But $90 for this tool seems a bit much when I can achieve the same "palm out" position for free with specific finger placement in my glove. I can then teach the bent wrist position during glove presentation on my own.
If the product was cheaper—say $20—then I'd recommend it. If you can afford it, it may be worth it. But at its current price, I do not personally recommend it.
3 of 5 Edgy Balls: Average.
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