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OF Drills

Jan 13, 2020
872
63
In the Tony Medina – Outfield Drills on post #4 from 1:09 through 2:04

Must really emphasize the importance of this foot work when ball is over your head and you over run it and have to turn back to catch it. You will see this play needed to be made at all levels of fast pitch and baseball.
 
So my 14yo DD has played SS mostly for the past two years and has become pretty go
So my 14yo DD has played SS mostly for the past two years and has become pretty good at it. This year she went to a new team and they have a good SS so she probably won't see much time as #6. Initial practices have her at LF. Looking for drills for her to work on to be able to read and track the balls a little better.
od at it. This year she went to a new team and they have a good SS so she probably won't see much time as #6. Initial practices have her at LF. Looking for drills for her to work on to be able to read and track the balls a little better.
A couple of drills at the end.

CATCH: First a common mistake that might bite her. All fielders when possible, given the flight of the ball, should make the catch, not in front of the face, but on the glove-side next to the head if possible. In other words, the ball would end up hitting her basically in the left shoulder should she be right-handed. When catching any flyball in front of the face, the view is blocked the last few feet, often resulting in balls hitting off the heel of the glove.
DROP STEP: Flyballs over the head. 1) What is most important in a drop step is that it gets the shoulders turns in the direction of pursuit as quickly as possible, and 2) that the first step backward is short so the outfielder can get good running momentum by doing the cross-over step while already accelerating. A long step keeps them treading-in-place.

THROW: Unlike an infield field, the outfield throw is a full circular motion like a reverse windmill. The hand and ball drop out of the glove palm or face down. The THUMB comes next to the thigh, still with the palm showing the ball toward the OF fence. As the elbow rises, this forces the arm to make a full circle in and over-hand motion, creating backspin and added ball-flight, and greatly increases the accuracy of the throw. (After the catch, the preferable footwork is a crow-hop, but a shuffle-step is also possible especially on balls hit to her left. The ball should be caught while stepping on the left foot, and then immediately going into the crow-hop. I have included some slightly flawed photos of 16 year old Amanda, who has never played OF doing this. She is also a SS).
Your DD's first priority in any baserunning situation and play to 3B or Home-plate is to stop the trailing runner, not to throw out the base-runner! it must be drilled into her head to hit the cutoff. A proper throw is normally going to result in a LONG-HOP to the base. Throw at the head or chest of the cutoff. Any ball which requires some help in strength or re-direction will get cut. It is the cutoff's responsibility to make the short and accurate throw.

FIELDING: Your DD should learn the basic knee block, dropping a knee behind the glove. ( I had a college player, on the national team, recently do a Do-or-Die on a ground ball hit up the middle and no runners on base. My jaw dropped and we had a little talk after the half-inning).
DO-or-DIE: In a situation where a terribly important runner is advancing to home or sometimes 3B, the fielder will execute the "Do-or-Die". The fielder picks up the ball on the run, and goes into a crow-hop-throw on the runner. (However, if there is no play, a bobble can result in another runner in scoring position. Restraint is a good approach).
Especially for younger girls, but for me all players, use a 3 step throw. The ball is fielded on while stepping on right-foot, the fielder rises upright with the step on the left foot, and goes into a crow-hop throw. (So it is right foot catch, the left-right-left. The extra step allows the fielder to get better balance and more energy. I find the left-footed catch to be less accurate as well. On flyballs, it is the left foot because the fielder does not have to rise up and get their balance. I teach the same thing to most infield players when "throwing off the right foot" on speedy runners. Eliminate the throwing errors).

PREP: I love to do a lot of agility ladder work for outfielders. I have the girls do it both directions, forward, and after a drop-step for balls over their heads. Stutter-steps for balls when coming in to set up the feet, and the same going back. Try to teach your DD to get on the balls of her feet when about to catch the ball, and that the glove should not be reaching for 20 yards when pursuing a flyball.

TWIST and GO DRILL: I do not have girls turn their head away from the fly ball. If they misjudge or the ball slices or hooks, the fielder simply turns, keeping her eyes on the flight of the ball. It isn't any slower, and too many girls lose their angle when turning their heads away from the flyball. They end up running a longer route to the ball. Some can do it. Especially with younger players, I think this is a risky technic. So what they do is step-back, turning into the flyball, and it works like a drop-step. Turn toward the ball, step back, cross-over (the first step with the shoulders fully turned). That is how they correct the angle of pursuit.
The DD faces the coach or dad fairly close. The coach originally points in a direction of pursuit. The DD drop-steps to pursue. The coach then signals with the arm to turn, change directions, then does it again. I usually do two changes as the DD gets control, and then throw the ball. Again this can be extended with fungo if you are accurate. When learning any skill, repetitions is more important than making it 100% game-like!

WIDE-RECEIVER DRILL: A little combination of 5 skills; drop-step, agility ladder for quick feet and catch prep, angle of pursuit, keeping the glove tucked, and the catch. The DD stands in front of an agility ladder, drop-steps the direction you signal her, and goes through the agility ladder. Cones are placed at increasingly difficult angles for balls over the head. She turns left or right at the end of the ladder, the same direction you originally instructed with your hand, running toward the cone left or right, to chase down your throw. If you are great at fungo you can hit the ball. Observe the footwork and glove work. Now to make things a step more difficult if needed, you can put a size #3 rubber, foam, football in her glove to remind her to keep her glove tucked. She has to keep the glove palm up to keep from dropping the ball in the tucked position. At no more than 3 steps from the flyball, she drops the football. You of course can make this simple without the agility ladder.

ROUTES/Angle of Pursuit: I forgot one really import issue: Routes to the ball. Whether a ground or flyball, the route the fielder takes is profoundly important. There are 3 types of routes players take: "banana-peel", a straight route, and getting behind the ball. If the flyball hangs up long enough, this is the best route. Getting behind the ball allows the fielder to get momentum into the throw, facing the target, and catching the ball on the left foot. Secondly, any catch over the shoulder, etc, will require a "straight-route". The shortest distance between two points is . . . ? Lastly, many players run a "banana-peel" route on every play. Instead of pursuing the ball by running a straight path, they run straight across the outfiled toward the ball's flight path and then when the ball is 20 yards past them they curl along the flight path to chase down the ball. To be honest a lot of this is instinctual; some have it some don't. But the two proper routes can be ingrained.

One more quick note! The "cross-over" step is almost as important for an outfielder as an infielder; crossing over first with the foot furthest from the direction of movement. Otherwise the first two steps would basically be treading water, standing in place. If the ball is to the left of the player, and the left foot is picked up and steps first, it is a completely wasted movement and time.
 

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Last edited:
Jan 13, 2020
872
63
A couple of drills at the end.

CATCH: First a common mistake that might bite her. All fielders when possible, given the flight of the ball, should make the catch, not in front of the face, but on the glove-side next to the head if possible. In other words, the ball would end up hitting her basically in the left shoulder should she be right-handed. When catching any flyball in front of the face, the view is blocked the last few feet, often resulting in balls hitting off the heel of the glove.
DROP STEP: Flyballs over the head. 1) What is most important in a drop step is that it gets the shoulders turns in the direction of pursuit as quickly as possible, and 2) that the first step backward is short so the outfielder can get good running momentum by doing the cross-over step while already accelerating. A long step keeps them treading-in-place.

THROW: Unlike an infield field, the outfield throw is a full circular motion like a reverse windmill. The hand and ball drop out of the glove palm or face down. The THUMB comes next to the thigh, still with the palm showing the ball toward the OF fence. As the elbow rises, this forces the arm to make a full circle in and over-hand motion, creating backspin and added ball-flight, and greatly increases the accuracy of the throw. (After the catch, the preferable footwork is a crow-hop, but a shuffle-step is also possible especially on balls hit to her left. The ball should be caught while stepping on the left foot, and then immediately going into the crow-hop. I have included some slightly flawed photos of 16 year old Amanda, who has never played OF doing this. She is also a SS).
Your DD's first priority in any baserunning situation and play to 3B or Home-plate is to stop the trailing runner, not to throw out the base-runner! it must be drilled into her head to hit the cutoff. A proper throw is normally going to result in a LONG-HOP to the base. Throw at the head or chest of the cutoff. Any ball which requires some help in strength or re-direction will get cut. It is the cutoff's responsibility to make the short and accurate throw.

FIELDING: Your DD should learn the basic knee block, dropping a knee behind the glove. ( I had a college player, on the national team, recently do a Do-or-Die on a ground ball hit up the middle and no runners on base. My jaw dropped and we had a little talk after the half-inning).
DO-or-DIE: In a situation where a terribly important runner is advancing to home or sometimes 3B, the fielder will execute the "Do-or-Die". The fielder picks up the ball on the run, and goes into a crow-hop-throw on the runner. (However, if there is no play, a bobble can result in another runner in scoring position. Restraint is a good approach).
Especially for younger girls, but for me all players, use a 3 step throw. The ball is fielded on while stepping on right-foot, the fielder rises upright with the step on the left foot, and goes into a crow-hop throw. (So it is right foot catch, the left-right-left. The extra step allows the fielder to get better balance and more energy. I find the left-footed catch to be less accurate as well. On flyballs, it is the left foot because the fielder does not have to rise up and get their balance. I teach the same thing to most infield players when "throwing off the right foot" on speedy runners. Eliminate the throwing errors).

PREP: I love to do a lot of agility ladder work for outfielders. I have the girls do it both directions, forward, and after a drop-step for balls over their heads. Stutter-steps for balls when coming in to set up the feet, and the same going back. Try to teach your DD to get on the balls of her feet when about to catch the ball, and that the glove should not be reaching for 20 yards when pursuing a flyball.

TWIST and GO DRILL: I do not have girls turn their head away from the fly ball. If they misjudge or the ball slices or hooks, the fielder simply turns, keeping her eyes on the flight of the ball. It isn't any slower, and too many girls lose their angle when turning their heads away from the flyball. They end up running a longer route to the ball. Some can do it. Especially with younger players, I think this is a risky technic. So what they do is step-back, turning into the flyball, and it works like a drop-step. Turn toward the ball, step back, cross-over (the first step with the shoulders fully turned). That is how they correct the angle of pursuit.
The DD faces the coach or dad fairly close. The coach originally points in a direction of pursuit. The DD drop-steps to pursue. The coach then signals with the arm to turn, change directions, then does it again. I usually do two changes as the DD gets control, and then throw the ball. Again this can be extended with fungo if you are accurate. When learning any skill, repetitions is more important than making it 100% game-like!

WIDE-RECEIVER DRILL: A little combination of 5 skills; drop-step, agility ladder for quick feet and catch prep, angle of pursuit, keeping the glove tucked, and the catch. The DD stands in front of an agility ladder, drop-steps the direction you signal her, and goes through the agility ladder. Cones are placed at increasingly difficult angles for balls over the head. She turns left or right at the end of the ladder, the same direction you originally instructed with your hand, running toward the cone left or right, to chase down your throw. If you are great at fungo you can hit the ball. Observe the footwork and glove work. Now to make things a step more difficult if needed, you can put a size #3 rubber, foam, football in her glove to remind her to keep her glove tucked. She has to keep the glove palm up to keep from dropping the ball in the tucked position. At no more than 3 steps from the flyball, she drops the football. You of course can make this simple without the agility ladder.

One more quick note! The "cross-over" step is almost as important for an outfielder as an infielder; crossing over first with the foot furthest from the direction of movement. Otherwise the first two steps would basically be treading water, standing in place. If the ball is to the left of the player, and the left foot is picked up and steps first, it is a completely wasted movement and time.
Very nice, thank you Quasimodo. Would like to show two more foot-work patterns, the replace the feet and step behind that have become so prevalent recently. Wish I could find compilations of the ladies throwing.

- The Hardest Outfield Throws of 2019 | MLB Highlights

- MLB Outfield Assists 2019
 
Last edited:
Jan 13, 2020
872
63
Practicing the throws😅

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Very nice, thank you Quasimodo. Would like to show two more foot-work patterns, the replace the fee and step behind that have become so prevalent recently. Wish I could find compilations of the ladies throwing.

- The Hardest Outfield Throws of 2019 | MLB Highlights

- MLB Outfield Assists 2019
Yeah your term is better. I think I called it a "shuffle-step" or something, "when moving to their left". Not quite a quick-pivot. Thanks for fixing it. I agree with Antonella that the step-behind is a little quicker, but who teaches a hurdle jump in the grow-hop? In pitching or fielding I see no reason to lift the hips like that. But he had a good point and ad I said before, it is the only option when moving to the left.
 
Last edited:
Jan 13, 2020
872
63
He makes a couple of really good points not expressed before. The drill at the end looks like a total riot with little kids.

- How to Catch a Fly Ball | Baseball Outfield Tips
 
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