Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Basic Skills To Play Outfield

By Jim Bain

Sometimes we attempt to begin running before we totally know how to walk, then wonder why we're struggling so much, such is the case with playing the outfield in baseball. There's a whole lot more to properly playing the position than just catching fly balls.

Since catching fly balls is a main stay of playing the outfield, let's examine the proper method of achieving that goal.

1. You must begin each pitch in the ready position, which is the body slightly bent forward, keeping our center of gravity high, weight on the balls of your feet, both hands up, not down at your side and you begin to slowly walk forward as the pitch is made, putting your body into motion. It's quicker to change direction of motion, than to create motion if standing still.

2. Always run full speed to the ball. There are of course times you'll be forced to make a catch while in a full sprint, but it's easier, if possible, to get to the place the ball will land and wait for the ball. Never get into a habit of trying to look cool by timing your speed to catch the ball while moving. Number one, it ain't cool and it'll destroy proper throwing mechanics after making the catch.

3. Always try to position yourself a couple of feet farther than you judge where the ball will land. By doing this you are able to be moving forward when catching the fly ball, they refer to it as Running Through the ball, which gives you momentum towards the infield, allowing you to make a strong throw back into the infield, with increased accuracy and velocity.

4. When a ball is hit directly at you, which is the hardest ball to determine it's flight, your first reaction should be to turn sideways and step backwards. By making this your first move, you can accelerate should you determine the ball is going over your head, but if you see the ball is shallow, it's much quicker and easier to reverse direction and go forward than reverse to going backwards.

***Plus, if a ball drops in front of you, it's a base hit, but one over your head is most likely a home run.***

5. There will be times where you'll be in a position of either catch the fly ball or the game's over. For example, winning run on third base, two outs and a sinking line drive is hit to your field. If you don't catch the ball for the third out, the runner easily scores and the game's over.

There are two techniques to use in the Do or Die situations, which will increase your chances of catching and holding on to ball and decrease your chances of injury.

A. On a diving catch attempt, as you hit the ground to use a shoulder roll to absorb the majority of the shock of hitting the turf and finish with your glove facing up. The transfer of shock to the body reduces the chance of injury and doesn't produce enough of an impact to knock the ball out of your glove.

B. On a sliding catch attempt, you slide with your glove on the side of the baseball. You don't want to be trying to catch the ball across your body, then use a pop up slide technique to regain your footing. In this particular instance there is no need for further action after the catch, but in others you may have to throw after making the catch and you can't throw from your backside.

Jim Bain, former Minor league baseball player, who since retiring has dedicated his life to teaching baseball to youth, shares his advice on running baseball drills on his exciting info packed website:

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