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12U Outfielder Positioning?

FJRGerry

Abby's Dad
Jan 23, 2009
202
0
Collegeville, PA
What do you think of playing your 12U outfielders a few steps deep considering it's easier to run forward to catch a fly ball rather than running backwards? Outfielders can always move forward quickly to backup the infield, but judging balls going over their head is usually difficult at this age (from my experience). Another reason I think it might be advantageous is it gets their momentum moving forward so any long throws they need to make will be that much stronger.
 

sluggers

Super Moderator
Staff member
May 26, 2008
5,921
83
Dallas, Texas
My experience has been that more popups fall in front of the outfielders than go over their heads. So, I always play my outfielders shallow. I also spend a lot of time teaching relays. I also want my RF to throw runners out at 1B.

You don't want easy pop-ups dropping in front of your outfielders. Your infielders probably will not be adept at backing up and catching pop-ups. So, your outfielders should be a depth where they will catch any popups that the infielders don't catch.

At 12U, it is time to start teaching kids how to play softball "the way it is supposed to be played".

(1) You have to learn how to teach skills.
(2) You have to accept that mistakes will be made during a game, and that you might lose a few runs or a few games at the beginning of the season because of these mistakes.
(3) If you do so, you will find that your team plays at a much higher level at the end of the season.
 
May 13, 2008
832
16
I agree with Sluggers and would add that you have to incorporate long fly balls into your practices. In my experience most youth teams don't practice outfield skills enough.

For example, when you're hitting ground balls around the infield is your outfield just standing around waiting for the occasional ball to be hit to them? Why not have a coach or parent hitting them fly balls on thier own.

Here is a great article for developing outfielders with some drills you can use:

FastSports!
 

FJRGerry

Abby's Dad
Jan 23, 2009
202
0
Collegeville, PA
Thanks for the replies. Our team does spend regular practice time working outfield drills and the importance of the outfield is stressed. We work on relays, pop-ups, backing up, etc...

I guess the reason for asking is seldom does a fly ball come right to you, so is it better to be in a position where you can more easily keep your eyes on the ball while moving to it?

Note to cshilt: I have Judi Garmen's "Softball Skills & Drills" - it's a greate resource!
 
Dec 28, 2008
390
0
I agree with Sluggers 100%. FAR TOO MANY coaches position outfielders so deep so that they don't have to explain to parents why some kid jacked one against them.

The problem is that in 12U it is seldom the solo home run deep over an outfielders head that wins the game. Like Sluggers said the real momentum changers in games are the 5 bloops that second base can't go back for and they drop. Those things are usually what ends up killing teams.

My philosophy was generally nothing will drop in the grass. After a girl has burned me deep once, then I'll consider adjusting to handle her, and that "consideration" will involve evaluating the pitch execution to see if that was the problem first. If she's proven she can drive a high inside and low outside pitch deep (just examples meaning she owns whatever my pitcher throws), then we make an adjustment, for that player alone. Those adjustments we make in the dugout so the outfielders know who to backup for. The last thing in the world I want do when that girl comes up is say "Outfielders you need to back up." That is just pig latin for "Hey pitcher you suck. Hey batter you are awsome!" Because I take confidence away from my pitcher when she needs it most, and I hand confidence to a batter who is already on top of the world.

There are also game situations that might dictate adjustments, and those are dealt with as they occur.
 
May 5, 2008
358
0
I agree with the others, I do NOT want those little short annoying bloopy hits to drop. if a kid bangs a ball over my outfielders head, at least they deserved that hit! Hey it was a good shot KWIM? Definitely work on your outfielders turning and running for the ball in practice. Like druer said, if you know a batter consistently hits the ball a ton, you play them accordingly. But generally speaking, I'd rather have the other team earn their hit over my outfielders heads than have those little bloopy hits fall in.
 

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