Basic Outfield Technique

Basic Outfield Technique

The most important thing in the outfield is to catch the ball. You can have a perfect first step and take perfect angles, but if you can’t catch the ball then it doesn’t really matter.Simplicity is the key throughout all areas of baseball

What you’ll learn


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    Catching the ball

    How to explain the importance of this to your players.

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    Upper body catch mechanics drill

    An easy drill that isolates the upper body and makes players focus on receiving the ball properly.

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    The importance of drop steps

    What drop steps are and why they’re necessary for your outfielders to have.

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    Drop step drill

    An easy drill to work on that first step

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    Importance of steep/deep angles

    Understanding and explaining the idea of angles to your players.

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    Angle drills

    Easy drills that any good outfield coach should implement.

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    Common flaw reference guide

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    Verbal cues

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Drill Explanation

Implementation


Let’s get one thing out of the way, in the outfield the most important thing is simply that the players catch the ball. If players are having a really difficult time catching the ball, starting by just throwing fly balls and have the kids practice catching them. A couple general points to emphasize with young players is to catch the ball above eye-level and with the glove hand fingers up.

To help them with these very basic points, you can do a drill where you have them get down on their knees and stand 5 feet away from them while facing them. Then simply throw an underhand toss that reaches a peak of 10-12 feet. The aim is to have that toss come down right on the bill of the players cap. By putting them on their knees it makes it harder to bail and try to catch the ball off to the side. If their best option for self-preservation is to catch the ball rather than running out of the way, it will help force the player to stay under it and catch the ball. Again, remind them to catch the ball above eye-level and with the glove hand fingers up (the quality/accuracy of the coaches toss is important with this drill).

Outfield Drop Step
From a fundamental standpoint, footwork is very important in the outfield. If you want to make sure that youth players are set-up to have success at the next level, teaching them correct footwork is key. You have all probably heard at some point: “don’t back pedal!” When kids are young their first instinct is to try to back pedal to balls over their head. We want to kick this habit and instead institute proper drop step footwork.

As an outfielder footwork is extremely important. Our footwork, and our jumps on batted balls can be a huge differentiator between a great outfielder and a mediocre outfielder. Today, I am going to outline the proper technique for a drop step and describe a drill that can very easily be implemented into practices to help players incorporate the correct mechanics.
First and foremost, what is a drop step?

Equipment needed: baseballs, a glove for the coach, all players have a glove & a ball.

Simply put a drop step occurs when we are facing one direction and need to get our shoulders and hips squared around to run full speed in a direction behind us. Basically, it happens when we need to go back to get a ball.

It is fairly commonplace with youth players to see kids backpedal rather than taking a drop step, turning, and running when a ball is hit over their head. Backpedalling is a cardinal sin in the outfield…do not let your players do it!

Getting familiar with a drop step is absolutely necessary if a player wants to fulfill their potential as a defensive player…especially in the outfield. That being said infielders need to know how to do it also.
What is the proper technique for a drop step?

Please note that some players will finish their pre pitch motion with a staggered stance but for ease of comprehension we will assume a square stance for this section. Assuming a player’s feet are square to the hitter as the ball goes through the hitting zone the drop step will primarily consist of lifting the foot and opening the hips to allow for a cross over that will get our hips and shoulders squared in the direction of where we need to go.
If the ball is hit over our left shoulder we will open up with the left foot, hip, and shoulder. If the ball is hit over our right shoulder we would of course open up with our right foot, hip, and shoulder.

The ball will typically tale towards the foul lines (assuming weather conditions are not an influence), this is an important piece of information that all outfielders need to take into account. That being the case, if a ball is hit directly over our head and we are playing a corner outfield spot (LF or RF), we should take our drop step towards the line. If you are playing centerfield it will usually tale to the opposite field side of the hitter. Therefore, if a righty is hitting it will typically tale to the right-center gap (so drop step towards that gap with the left foot, hip, and shoulder). If a lefty is hitting the ball will typically tale towards the left-center gap (so drop step towards that gap by opening up with the right foot, hip, and shoulder).

With the actual physical move of taking a drop step it is very important to preach to your players that they clear their hips. This means they open up enough with their initial step that they are not taking 2 or 3 lateral steps before actually getting the hips and shoulders turned in the directions of where the ball will land.

The Reasoning


Good vs. Bad

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Basic Fielding Instruction