If you listen to veteran players talk about their development in the game of baseball you will almost always here them talk about how they learned to "slow the game down." There will come a time in ever player's career when the game starts to slow down for them and things seem to happen without exerting as much effort. Slowing the game down usually comes with experience. The longer you play, and the more you play, the easier it will become to slow down your surroundings. I want to talk a little bit about what you can do to help slow the game down defensively.
If you watch professional players play defense they make it look very easy and effortless. Their actions are more controlled. They don't exert as much effort, yet they always seem to be able to make the play. They make tough plays look easy and it seems as if they can make the routine play with their eyes closed. One of the biggest things that will help you slow things down is to always be in control. When you practice, learn to be controlled in your actions. When I watch younger players, or even kids high school and college, the one thing that a lot of players do is rush. They are out of control more than they should be. There is a lot of wasted motion in their movements. When they bobble a ball they compound the problem by rushing and trying to do more than they are capable of doing. No matter how hard you try, your body can only move at a certain speed without getting out of control. When you find yourself in a game and something goes wrong don't think "hurry up" or "go faster", think "be under control". Believe me, it is much easier said than done, but that's why you have to practice it.
When you are in practice and you are taking your ground balls or your fly balls always be aware of what your body is doing. Lots of players have wasted movement with their glove and arms. Try to soften your movements. You always want to be under control and you want to be sure your are down early when fielding a ground ball. When you start your defensive work take your first few ground balls or fly balls at 50% of your normal speed. See how easily and controlled you can be but still able to make all the plays. Start to build your speed until you find that perfect effort level to be able to make every play but always be under control. Fielding is a lot like hitting. Most hitters don't swing at 100% effort level. Most guys are somewhere around 85-90%. With fielding you want to think along the same lines, although you probably could be even less, around 75-80%.
When baseball season starts make sure to watch closely at how some of the best defensive players in the league play. Watch Derek Jeter make his back hand jump throw from shallow left field. He is always under control. He makes it look easy and exhibits great body control and awareness. Watch how Omar Vizquel makes a diving play but is sure to set his feet, be in control of his body, and make a strong, accurate throw. It is all about body control. They never rush. You can teach yourself how to be under control just like the pros.