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The complete outfielder

mysportsguru.com

 

  

Give it all you've got in the outfield. 

 Your outfielders have a lot of ground to cover, and as a coach, you need to know what qualities each of your three outfielders should have. Mysportsguru.com has a wealth of information for you on how to develop great outfielders.

Stance

An outfielder's feet should be a comfortable width apart—about shoulder width. Hands can be placed on knees and as the pitch is delivered to the plate the player's weight shifts to the balls of the feet and the outfielder gets to a ready position. This position allows him to move right or left, back or in. Watching the pitch and knowing what type of hitter is at the plate will give the outfielder an added insight into where the ball will be hit.

 

Getting the best jump on the ball

From the ready position, the outfielder uses a quick crossover step in moving to his left or right. This enables him to get to the ball as quickly as possible so that he can make the play with a good throw. At this time he should know what he is going to do with the ball and where he is going to make his throw.

 

Communication

The center fielder is the general in the outfield and should catch any ball that he can reach. Naturally, if this catch would be an easy one for the side outfielder, the center fielder should encourage the side fielder to make the play. Outfielders should constantly talk to one another. When calling for balls, the center fielder should continue to call for a ball since a one-time call may be at the same time as the side outfielder's call, and the players may not hear each other.

 

Throwing

Outfielders should learn to throw over the top with the grip across the big seams of the ball. With this grip we not only get the carry that the ball needs, but if we are making a throw to a base with a good one-hop throw, the ball will skip more quickly and on a straight line either off the grass or dirt.

 

Fielding a ground ball and making a throw

The outfielder should charge the ball, slowing down as he nears it so that he can field the ball out in front off his front toe with the glove hand. This allows him to be in a position to take one step and a crow-hop as he is delivering his throw. This method will also allow him to get rid of the ball quickly and get the maximum distance on his throw.

Sometimes with a rough outfield he may feel he has to block the ball first. By playing the ball off the front toe, if the ball takes a bad hop it will hit him in the body and stay in front. In other situations when it is not necessary to throw out the runner, he may want to field with two hands and may even get down on one knee to keep the ball in front.

 

Fielding fly balls

The outfielder should learn to catch the ball with two hands over the throwing shoulder. Then when it becomes necessary to make the throw on the fly ball, all he has to do is lay back off the ball, then move into the throw. This way the body's momentum enables the fielder to make the throw in one motion. By doing this consistently, a good habit is formed and it becomes automatic.

 

Your outfielders should: 

Move quickly and alertly to and from their positions. 

Constantly check wind and sun conditions. Check playing field conditions. 

Keep in mind the condition of the outfield surface and the distance to all the fences. 

Watch all the actions of the hitter closely, such as stance, change for hitting to opposite field, stance for bunting, a shortening or lengthening of his grip on the bat or any change that might indicate the direction he might attempt to hit.

Always assume a slightly squat position with the weight off the heels and leaning forward when the pitcher releases the ball.

Know the opposing hitters and how the pitcher will attempt to pitch to them. 

Back up other outfielders and all throws to bases. 

Call plays whenever a call is necessary. 

Back up infielders on balls hit to them. 

Run on the balls of their feet and make a smooth approach to the ball. 

Know all game situations, such as number of outs, tying and winning runs, etc. 

Be sure they know where to throw the ball before they get it. 

Attempt to hit all cut-off men with a chest-high throw. 

Refrain from making useless throws where a following runner or hitter could advance. 

Charge all ground balls with reasonable timing and do not lay back on them. They should not allow a runner to challenge them.

Concentrate on positioning themselves for the throw on both ground and fly balls whenever possible. Try to catch all balls on their throwing side in order to get rid of the ball quickly.

Give the ball to the infielders in the same manner they would like it if they were playing the infield.

Never be caught without sunglasses. One fly ball lost in the sun may cost the game. 

Call loudly, distinctly and confidently on all fly balls and take all fly balls they can handle toward the infield. Never pressure the infielder by forcing him to make the tough play. The infielder goes back until the outfielder calls him off the play.

Learn how to play fences. On balls that stop at the bottom of a fence, outfielders should make sure they look at the ball when they pick it up, so that they don't have to reach for it more than once. Pick the ball up the first time. If we use two hands we won't bobble or drop the ball. Each time you fail to pick up the ball the runner advances another base.

Like infielders, anticipate every ball is going to be hit to them. Think, "What am I going to do with the ball when it is hit to my right, my left, in front, over my head, hard, soft..." etc.

Practice taking balls off the bat during batting practice. Much more can be learned by fielding balls off the bat then by any other method.

 

Tips for special situations

When playing on the road with less than two outs and the winning run on third, outfielders should play short enough to provide a good shot at the man trying to score. This also might enable the outfielder to handle a line drive that would otherwise fall for a base hit.

 

The toughest play for an outfielder to make is when the ball is hit directly over his head. An outfielder should turn to his strong side on this ball, whether it is to his right or left.

 

 
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