How To Be A Better Outfielder

pointers for catching fly balls

pointers for catching fly balls

How To Be A Better Outfielder
Qualities of a Baseball Outfielder
Baseball Outfield Covering Bases
Baseball Outfield Fielding Fly Balls
Baseball Outfield More Pointers for Catching Fly Balls
Baseball Outfield Fielding a Fly Ball Over Your Head
Baseball Outfield Fielding Ground Balls
Throwing for an Outfielder
Footwork for Outfielders Drop Step
Circle the Ball
Baseball Outfield To Dive or Not to Dive
Do or Die

Qualities of a Baseball Outfielder

When a ball gets through the infield, it is just a hit. When a ball gets by the outfield, it means extra bases. Good outfielders make catches look easy. They are smooth, not flashy. A good Baseball Outfield especially each individual Outfielders should have pride in a job well done and a philosophy that no catchable ball will ever drop in their area, that no hit will ever get by them, and that no runner will ever run on them.
Although some skills will vary by position, all three outfielders should share the following characteristics:

  • Good speed and agility
  • Strong overhand throw
  • Sure-handed
  • Ability to anticipate and get a jump on the ball – Drop step
  • Good judgment under pressure
  • A love of catching fly balls
  • Stay focused and alert

How To Be A Better Outfielder? The center fielder is usually the fastest of the outfielders because he has the most area to cover. He also must be able to read the ball off the bat and get a good jump on the ball and be aggressive. The center fielder has priority on all fly balls. He needs to be a vocal leader because he needs to communicate to the other outfielders and the middle infielders.

The right fielder has the longest throw to third base, so the most important consideration is arm strength. A right fielder who can charge ground balls well and release the ball quickly is a real asset because he can stop the runner at 1st from advancing to 3rd.

The left fielder has the left-field line to cover. A right-hander has a slightly easier throw on balls hit down the line, but here too the more important factor is throwing ability. The left fielder’s longest throw is to home, so his arm is usually the weakest of the three outfielders.

Baseball Outfield Covering Bases

In some instances, outfielders need to cover a base. They should know the proper footwork to cover the base and know how to apply a tag. On a bunt, the left fielder should be prepared to cover third base if the shortstop has gone to second and the third baseman is fielding the bunt. On a bunt with a runner on second, the center fielder covers second in case the shortstop is covering third.

How To Be A Better Outfielder, well one thing to become a better outfielder is to make sure on every infield throw to a base should be backed up by an outfielder. The right fielder should be heading towards the fence behind 1st base whenever a ground ball is hit to the left side of the infield. On a ball hit to the right side, he is charging to cover the ball. The center fielder will cover 2nd, and the left fielder will cover 3rd in a similar manner.

Rundowns

When runners are caught in a rundown, the outfielders are always part of the defensive rotation. Once again, each outfielder covers his bag (as above). In this situation, though, the outfielder will not only backup the player at the bag, but if that player has to roll out or gets off the bag, then the outfielder will take control of the bag.

Fielding Fly Balls

Drop Step – Getting a Good Jump on a batted ball

When the ball is hit, get a good jump on the ball. A good jump depends on your reaction time, which can improve through repetition. Watch the ball all the way to the plate and watch the swing of the bat. With a little practice, you will find yourself starting to lean in the right direction before the ball is contacted. You will also become good at taking the drop step with the correct foot.

Drop Step – Footwork

It’s difficult if not impossible to get a good jump without good footwork. When the ball is hit to your side, your first move will be a crossover step. When the ball is hit over your head your first step will be a drop step on your throwing side.

One of the most challenging fly balls to judge is the ball hit directly at you. If you don’t immediately recognize whether the ball is going over your head or going to drop in front of you, freeze right after your drop step. The worst thing you can do is guess. Simply freeze, try to determine where the ball is and listen. The other outfielders may be able to see the trajectory better than you and yell at you to go in or go back.

Get Behind The Ball

You will dramatically improve your velocity and the time required to throw the ball if you get behind the ball as it comes down and starts moving in the direction of your target as you catch the ball.

fly balls

fly balls

Playing the Fly Ball in the Sun

It’s important that you don’t stare into the sun directly. Use your throwing hand to shield the sun. If you are using your glove to shield the sun, you will be blinded when you bring your hand down to catch the ball.

More Pointers for Catching Fly Balls

  • Always catch with two hands. The ideal position is above the head and in front of the throwing shoulder.
  • The first movement of your body is a short drop step back on your throwing hand side.
  • Locate the ball and determine the angle you should take.
  • When time permits, circle around the ball and take your momentum forward through the ball on line with the target.
  • When you need to be quick, use a direct angle to the ball. Sprint to the spot for the catch and then turn to the target to throw.
  • Always attempt to keep your eyes on the ball.
  • Use quick feet to maintain balance.
  • Run on the balls of your feet using a proper running technique. Don’t extend your glove until the last moment.

Fielding a Fly Ball Over Your Head

When dropping back on a ball hit directly over your head, it’s important that you drop to your throwing hand side. If you drop straight back on your glove hand side, turning your back on a ball on the other side will require you to make a backhanded catch. This is a more difficult play. By dropping back on your throwing hand side, you are in a position to turn your back quickly to the ball if it’s curving toward the line. This is common for a right-handed right fielder or a left-handed left fielder. The turn should be made as quickly as possible.

Fielding Ground Balls

Approach

How you field a ground ball will often be dictated by the situation and where you are in relation to the ball.

With nobody on base and the ball hit near you, your goal is to make sure you keep the ball in front of you and field it cleanly to keep the baserunner from advancing to 2nd. In this situation, you will field the ball like an infielder.

With a runner at second and the ball hit sharply to you, you may determine you have a chance to throw the runner out at home. In this case, you will want to field the ball off your glove hand side.

baseball Outfield

baseball Outfield

Charging

The speed at which you charge the ground ball will also be determined by the situation. If you have time to field it like an infielder you will want to approach the ball under control and get yourself in position to catch it. Even if the situation dictates that you rush to get the ball, you will need to break down and get under control before you get to the ball. This will allow you to set yourself up to make a good throw which will more than make up for the time you used in slowing down.

Circle The Ball

Circle the ball and keep it in front of you. With a ball hit to your side, it’s risky to try and take a direct angle to cut it off. If you misjudge the speed at all, the ball may get by you. By taking an angle that is deeper, you can circle behind the ball and catch it moving forward with the ball in front of you. While it might take slightly longer to get to the ball, you will be in a better position to catch it and make an accurate throw.

Throwing for an Outfielder

For an outfielder, the ability to make a long accurate throw is an important skill. More importantly, it’s a skill that can be learned and improved. In the outfield, you want to get the ball in as fast as possible to prevent a runner from advancing. Runners will hurt your team badly if the outfielders can’t get the ball into the infield quickly.

ALWAYS throw across four (4) seams from the outfield. When the ball bounces, it has a much better chance of bouncing straight if the ball was thrown with this grip. It’s very tough for an infielder to play a ball that bounces badly on a long throw from the outfield.

Hitting The Cutoff

Unless you practice plays that require a decision to be made during practice, your outfielders may not really understand why it’s important to hit the cut off man. During practice don’t always have the ball go through to the base. Have your players use “Cut” followed by a different base.

The correct positioning of the cutoff is a critical factor in making these plays work. Infielders need to be taught to be aware of the arm strength and position on the field of the outfielder making the throw. You want your cutoff man, if necessary, to make a short, accurate throw.

They shouldn’t be cutting the distance in half. They should be trying to maximize the arm of the outfielders. Remember this is two-sided. If the cutoff person errors on the side of being too far away from the outfielder, the outfielder must recognize his limitations and throw the ball on one hop to the cutoff person. The outfielder should make sure that if he misses, he misses low. This way a play is still possible.

Arm Strength

It is commonly accepted that a long-toss program is the best way to improve arm strength. There’s no substitute for throwing a baseball.

Footwork for Outfielders

The key is to be in a balanced position ready to move quickly to the ball. Outfielders in their ready position generally hold their gloves a little higher than infielders do. Players should use proper catching techniques whenever possible but must remember that the goal is to catch everything. On routine fly balls, the catch should always be made with both hands slightly above the head and in front of the throwing shoulder. Players track the ball all the way into the glove.

An outfielder’s first movement when the ball is hit is back — a short drop step of two or three inches. This step back puts the body in motion and prevents the player from being caught back on his heels. The drop step is the key to having quick reactions. The player makes the drop step back and locates the ball. Then, after reading the ball, the fielder decides the angle he needs to take to catch the ball. Drop step, locate, and go on an angle to the ball.

Players should not think too much about footwork. Quick feet, balance, and good judgment are the keys to getting to the spot where the ball can be caught. Players should practice so that they are balanced and comfortable going after every type of ball.

As an outfielder runs with his back to home after a ball directly over his head, the ball will occasionally drift from one shoulder to the other. By merely turning his head to the opposite shoulder, he can locate the ball for the catch.

How To Be A Better Outfielder

How To Be A Better Outfielder

The outfielder should run on the balls of the feet with a smooth stride to prevent jarring of the eyes that will cause vision to blur. He should glide to the ball using a good running technique, pumping the arms back and forth while keeping them close by his side and reach for the ball with the glove at the last second.

How To Be A Better Outfielder – Circle the Ball

Sometimes you have to sprint as fast as you can just to have an opportunity to catch a ball. Other times the ball will be hit high enough that you will have extra time to get yourself in a good position to get behind the ball. One technique that will help you get in position is to circle the ball. With a ball hit to your side, it’s risky to try and take a direct angle to cut it off.

If you miss judging the distance and speed at all, the ball may get by you. By taking an angle that is deeper, you can circle behind the ball and catch it moving forward with the ball in front of you. While it might take slightly longer to get to the ball, you will be in a better position to not only catch it but also make an accurate throw. The diagrams below show the incorrect angle and proper angle to take when running to the ball.

How To Be A Better Outfielder – To Dive or Not to Dive

Keys on How To Be A Better Outfielder is to know things like If you dive and miss a ball between the left center and right center, there should be someone behind you. If you dive and miss a ball near the foul line, you are on your own. Diving for a line drive, or charging it hard is seldom wise because if it gets past you, it’s going a long way. On the other hand, if a high fly ball is missed, it’s not going anywhere after it bounces.

How To Be A Better Outfielder – Do or Die

In some situations, the game is over if the play is not made. So regardless of the type of ball (a hard shot, uncontrollable bounces, the ball bouncing close to the feet, or a shot to the player’s side), the outfielder must try to make the catch. He may have to short hop it or reach to the side without attempting to block it as he would in different circumstances when playing it safe. He must charge directly to the ball, keeping his body under control. The fielder scoops up the ball off his glove hand foot and throws on a hard, flat line to home plate.
This play should always be included in any infield/outfield drills done in practice or before a game.