When setting up your youth baseball fielding drills, since it’s true that a large majority of the plays happen in the infield, this leads coaches to put their best catchers and throwers in the infield positions as well as make this area the majority of their focus in practice.
The problem with that though, is while you do see the majority of your baseball fielding on short fly balls and ground balls, a mistake in the infield will only usually cost you a base – whereas a mistake in the outfield can make the difference between a single and a double, or possibly even a triple, or your worst case scenario – an in the park homer.
That’s why I like to spend a good amount of time on practicing how to work the fence. This is something we as often forget to get to in baseball practice, but in a game can have a huge result on the number of bases gained when your pitcher is beat deep.
One of the best kept baseball coaches secrets is to get your outfielders to go out to the fence before the game with a baseball and throw it off the fence a couple of times. This way, they can get a good feel for what kind of trajectory a baseball hit off the fence in a game would take, and can adjust their run accordingly.
Working the Fence – Stationary Ball
There are two basic scenarios for your outfielders when a ball is hit off the fence, a ball that has come to a stop off of the fence, and a ball that keeps rolling.
For a stationary ball, have your player run full tilt, aiming to come in a couple of yards behind the ball. Then they can round their turn, and scoop the ball up with one hand and begin their crow hop, getting the ball back to the infield smoothly, with a minimum
number of bases allowed.
Working the Fence – Rolling Ball
Here your outfielder will take the same running trajectory, coming around behind the ball. But instead of reaching down with just one hand, I encourage players to use two – scoop the ball up with two hands, funneling the ball into their glove hand and securing it before they do their crow hop and toss the ball infield.
Having a good array of baseball fielding drills to use in practice is very important, and you should make sure not to neglect the outfield. If you’ve got any good outfield drills of your own, feel free to suggest them in the comments below!