Well, finally something I know about. I’m on this forum because I was a shortstop all my career, and my son is a pitcher.
Lets see, I’ve never seen anyone wear shin guards and if you are getting hit in the shins, you’re approaching the ball all wrong. You mention that the ball will go between your legs. That is a tell tale sign that you are starting the glove too high and then bringing it down to the ball…only too late. You should always try to bring the hands up to the ball.
First, you should be in a ready position when the pitch is thrown where the legs are bent and the the glove hand is near the ground. Some put both hands down, others just the glove. Find a comfortable position, and stick with it every pitch. (there are some game clips of pitchers on this forum I’ve seen where you can see infielders behind them. Notice how they get down in a ready position before every pitch)
When a ball is hit to you, you must be able to adjust both laterally and forward. Very rarely do you want to be going back on a ground ball. Get in postion quickly so that you can be well balanced when you handle the ball (not always an option on harder hit balls but is a good general rule). Always remember to go from “low to high” rather than “high to low” with the glove. If your hands are down and the ball bounces up, you can bring the hands up and pull it into the chest. If it goes too high, it will deaden off your chest and the ball will be right in front of you to still make the play. But especially on the harder balls that stay low, your hands will not need to adjust down, and the ball will not get under your glove.
The position for handling a ground ball is best taught by a “triangle.” In practice, draw a triangle in the dirt, legs about shoulder width apart at each side. Your hands will be out in front of the body at the top of the triangle. That is the position to approach the ball.
As the ball contacts the glove, you should be balanced and moving into position with the left leg moving/leading forward. Both hands on the ball, as you are bringing the ball the throwing hand is establishing a grip. Someone above mentioned “soft hands” and this is where it comes to play. By catching the ball out in front of the body and then absorbing the momentum of the ball up and into the body, you lessen the chance that it will pop out of the glove.
As you are moving the ball up to the right side of your chest (this of course assumes you’re a right hander), you should be turning your shoulders and getting into a throwing position, all in one motion. This takes practice so work at it. It should be a fluid motion and one that will allow you to get the ball quickly out of your glove and throwing it to your target.
Now, this is the general way to receive the ball. Each ball is different and on the harder hit balls that stay low, you just need to keep your hands down, absorb it up into the chest.
Shortstop is a great postion and is involved in a lot of action. What I always did was to be at short every chance I could during practice. When the drills were done and we started batting practice, I hustled out to short and took all the grounders I could. Treat each one like a drill and work on your mechanics. It will become 2nd nature in no time. You can also practice at home with a tennis ball and no glove, just throw the ball off the wall, make the catch and practice your motion over and over.
Hope this helps and have fun…