Baseball Tips – Catching fly balls and throwing in one fluid motion from the outfield

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Catching fly balls is one small component to being an outfielder. When catching and throwing from the outfield, you must be decisive, aggressive, and willing to use your body as a blockade in a manner similar to the catcher. Nothing can get by you, particularly if you are backing up your fellow outfield teammate on a play.

On ground balls in front of you, you must be able to charge the hit while on the run, and be able to bend down to pick the baseball up at the same time.

On long fly balls, you must be able to turn and run while keeping your eyes on the baseball. And, on fly balls hit toward you, you must be able to field the ball and in one motion turn the catch into a throw, nabbing a runner who’s rounding the bases.

Be decisive when catching fly balls

As an outfielder, when catching fly balls, it can sometimes be difficult to judge their distance and direction. The baseball can come off the bat with topspin, or in a knuckleball manner, causing the ball to slice and move in unanticipated ways.

At some point when catching fly balls, you are likely to experience breaking in on a baseball that then sails over your head, or turn to run back, only to then realize that the baseball was hit far short of your expectations. But, with practice, these situations can be minimized.

Although you can be hit a “curve” at times, it is very important when playing the outfield to be decisive. On every fly ball hit your way, there is a point during that ball’s flight when you must ask yourself, “Can I get this ball?”

Don’t hesitate coming up with your answer. Make your decision and either go all out for it or back off and play the ball on a bounce. But, hesitation is likely to cause the baseball to get by you.

Baseball Tips   Catching fly balls and throwing in one fluid motion from the outfield

If you’re resolved to make the catch, go all out to make the catch – relying on your outfield teammate to back you up. If it is apparent that your teammate will be unable to get into position to back you up, you might want to make the decision to play the ball more conservatively.

Making plays on difficult fly balls

When catching fly balls, the most difficult fly balls to judge are low liners and short bloopers, particularly when you need to quickly decide to attempt a catch or hang back and play the bounce.

If you’ve chosen to hang back, play the baseball, if able, a few feet behind where the ball will bounce. This gives you a chance to prevent the ball from being redirected past you if the ball happens to take an unorthodox bounce. Playing back also gives you the opportunity to charge the ball as it bounces, transferring your forward momentum into your throw.

As an outfielder, making sure the ball doesn’t get by you is your first priority. If you’ve decided to charge a ball but have found that you’re unable to catch it, attempt to smother or block the baseball with your body as it hits the ground. If the ball should get by you, the runner is in a position to run around the bases.

Catching ground balls on the charge

Often, by the time a ground ball has reached the outfield, the baseball has lost much of its momentum. Be ready to charge these types of ground balls hit in front of you – keeping your glove low to the ground and in front of your body on its glove side.

Avoid fielding the ball with your glove hand off to your side. If you should misplay the ball in this position, the baseball will easily get behind you and could keep rolling. Alternatively, if you keep your glove in front of your body as you pick the ground ball up, if you happen to misplay it, your body will be in a position to prevent the ball from rolling farther.

As you charge a ground ball, be cautious not to overrun it. Maintaining too high a speed as you approach the ground ball, taking your eyes off the ball, and not keeping your glove low to the ground, typically causes overrunning the baseball.

Slow your sprint down as you approach the ground ball. This so you can bend at the waist enough to keep your baseball glove down low to scoop up the ball, while still retaining your forward momentum to help with the throw.

The transfer of the baseball from glove to throw should be one continuous and fluid motion. Bring your glove hand with ball diagonally upward toward your waist as you straighten up, while still on the run. From here, transfer the ball from your glove to your throwing hand, where you then begin your throwing motion.

If the ball has completely stopped by the time you reach it, save time by using your bare hand, rather than your baseball glove, to pick up the hit.

Catching fly balls followed by your throw

When catching fly balls there are two principle methods you should be aware of, the drop step and the square stance. If there is a runner on base, the drop step should be used to catch the baseball and throw the ball back into the infield.

The drop step consists of remaining a few steps behind the spot where you plan to catch the fly ball until the last moment. You then accelerate forward into the catch, using your forward momentum to carry you directly into the throw.

This catching fly balls technique should be one continuous and fluid motion, from catching the fly ball to throwing toward the infield. Outfielders utilizing this technique get the ball off much quicker and with far more velocity on the throw than outfielders who catch the ball flatfooted.

Regardless of the catching fly balls method you employ, always try to keep your throwing hand up near the backside of your glove’s webbing when catching a fly ball. This allows for a quick transfer from glove to hand, saving precise seconds on the throw.