Sitting on the spectator’s stand, you may think that the outfielders are just standing on the field and waiting for the ball. But things are not that easy for them. To become an excellent outfielder, it needs a lot of adjustments, improvisation to the situation, and staying one step ahead of the game. In this article, I am going to describe how to be a good outfielder. I will discuss the ins and outs of every situation an outfielder may face on the field and how they should respond.
Tips to be a good outfielder in Baseball
Never waste your time with a stutter step
An outfielder always runs out of his time. He gets very little time to make his decision. Therefore, there is not enough time to hasten your steps. We often call the first step the drop step. Normally, the first step of an outfielder is backward. A backward step helps you get a better feel about the trajectory of the ball. A great outfielder in baseball takes the drop step when the pitcher gets him ready to pitch the ball. Another advantage of the backward step is that it gives you better control over the ball. The ball falls in front of you instead of falling over your head.
Good outfielder sprint towards a fly ball
When you are chasing a fly ball, you have to sprint from your first step. An outfielder often makes mistakes to judge the right direction of the landing spot of the ball. You should rightly predict the landing spot and start running in the right direction. Thus, you will get more time to catch the ball and position yourself to release it to the target. The bottom line is to sprint from the very first step instead of jogging in a casual manner. Additionally, it would be best to have a pair of Best Outfield Baseball Gloves to catch a fly ball successfully.
Change your position frequently
Balls hit different corners of the outfield. A specific hitter may have a specific direction to hit the ball. You need to change your direction according to the hitting disposition and tendency of each hitter. Therefore, do not stand in the same position for a long time. Do not make a permanent and ready position. Rather, try to read the batter’s strong points and change your position accordingly. Making an educated guess depending on the hitting points of the batter will be expected from a good outfielder in Baseball. For example, batters at number four or five are power hitters and pull the ball leftwards. Therefore, you should step back and change your position.
Do not lose the ball in the sun
Losing the ball in the sun is a common problem for outfielders. Using sunglasses is the only solution to this problem. Therefore, never forget getting a baseball standard sunglass when you are playing in the outfield. It will help you in different ways. Firstly, it will save you from the glare of the sun. On the other hand, using the right lens will allow you to detect the perfect position of the ball in the sky.
Be a responsible centerfielder
Centerfield is a vital outfield position. The centerfielder can directly observe the pitcher and the hitter. Therefore, it is easier for him to instruct the left fielder and right fielder regarding the necessary adjustments. As the center fielder should observe the hitter, he should not stand directly behind the pitcher. He should stand slightly left or slightly right to the pitcher so that he can observe the swings of the hitter. A centerfielder should also backup the balls that are thrown to the middle infielders, backup the potential throw from the catcher, or throws to the second base. To develop your throwing techniques, please read our article on “How to Throw a Baseball: The Mechanism of Baseball Throwing” for in-depth knowledge of executing a perfect throw.
Back up when you are a left fielder
If you are standing in the left fielder position, you have plenty of responsibilities. It is not just standing in the position and not worrying about anything. If no runner is on the base, a left fielder should back up the throw coming from right field to the second base. He should also back up the centerfielder. Other than these, a left fielder has a number of responsibilities to back up the ball in different situations. He should also back up the ball while the runner is at first base or at first and second base. He should also prepare himself for different situations such as the ball hit to right or center field, the ball to the left-center gap, base hit to right field, and so on.
Back up when you are at the right field
The jobs and responsibilities of a right fielder are similar to that of a left fielder. Apart from fielding in his position, a right fielder has a lot of backup work. When there is no runner on base, a right fielder should back up the centerfielder when there is a base hit to center field and back up the second base when there is a base hit to left field. Apart from backing up, a right fielder should have a good vision of the catcher’s signs and act accordingly. He should also keep an eye on the foul line and consider it as a gauge of his standing position.
Call off the infielders while chasing a fly ball
If you are an outfielder, you should call off the infielders when you are chasing a fly ball. An outfielder stands in a better position to observe the fly ball. Therefore, he should get priority to catch the ball. But if the infielder does not follow the outfielder’s communication, then the outfielder should slide to avoid injury due to collision.
Practice understanding the warning track
You should practice running on the fence. Before you face the wall, you should have an estimate of how many strides you have at the warning track. You will have a few seconds to respond while you are dealing with a fly ball. Therefore, you may not have time to look at anything else other than the ball in the sky. Proper practice will make you able to feel the warning track without seeing it and catch the fly ball perfectly.
Work on the footwork is key for any good outfielder
Apart from practicing on the warning track, you should work on your footwork. If you want to improve your outfield play, then your first step is going to be very important. Therefore, when you see the pitcher approaching to throw the ball, start printing instead of jogging. Sprint without looking up. You will be able to run faster this way.
Keep yourself ready all the time
Always keep your head in the game. A great outfielder in Baseball should be as prompt as a rabbit. You may interact with your teammates to keep your mind in the game. When the pitcher is ready to pitch, then you may bend your knees to get ready for the sprint. You never know where the ball will be hit. Therefore, make anticipation by reading the temperament of the batter.
Make the perfect first move
Making the perfect first step is the key to a good outfielder in Baseball. You may put your first step slightly backward to get better control over the ground. Following the movement of the bat requires instinct that increases over time with a lot of practice. The movement of the ball may vary due to different factors such as the wind, sun, spin on the ball, and so on. Therefore, as an outfielder, you will have to make an intelligent decision within a fraction of a second.
Good outfielder needs to be judgemental in every move
An outfielder is the last line of defense. Therefore, he has to be judgemental when making a decision. When an outfielder is running for the ball, he should not overrun. Following a diagonal path always makes the running distance shorter. On the other hand, there is no meaning in chasing a ball that you can not catch. Therefore, you need to know when to step and where to step without making any unnecessary moves.
What should be the approach of a good outfielder in Baseball?
Repeated practice makes a great outfielder. Therefore, to become a better outfielder, take the practice sessions as funs. Another important approach is always keeping yourself prepared. There will be innings where you may not get a chance even to touch the ball. But you have to be in the game every moment whether you touch the ball or not. Put your body weight on your feet when the pitcher is ready to throw the ball. It will help you push your body in any direction more readily.
How should a outfielder communicate during catching a fly ball?
A centerfielder always has a priority to catch a flyball as he stands in a batter position compared to others. Therefore, the centerfielder will call off left or right outfielders to avoid any miscommunication. However, all the outfielders have priority over the infielders. Therefore they will call off the infielders, and they will leave the ball.
How outfielder deals with a fly balls?
You need to jump whenever needed to catch a fly ball. Keep your eye on the ball all the way to the plate. Without good footwork, you can not jump well. For example, if the ball is hit over your head, then your first step will be a drop step followed by a crossover step. When you are sprinting to catch a fly ball, you need to have a good judgment on the landing point of the ball. Therefore, make perfect anticipation before the jump.
How a good outfielder in Baseball deals with a ground balls?
When you are fielding a ground ball, your approach should be keeping the baserunner at his position and stopping him from advancing to second. Before throwing the ball, make sure you have good control over the batted ball. Therefore, do not haste even if the situation demands.
What is the right way of throwing?
Throwing is a skill, and you can improve it through practice. Hitting the cutoff man is the ultimate goal while throwing. When you are throwing a long-distance, shuffling of the legs can be a great help. You should first shuffle towards the target and then throw. To become a good outfielder, you need to become a good thrower. To prepare for a good throwing hand, you need to have a strong arm. Therefore, you need to do conditioning exercises such as weight lifting to gain arm strength.