Depending on where you’re coaching or where you’re playing, the outfield at times can be a little bit rough. So we want to make sure that our technique is good and that allows us a much better chance to field the ball cleanly. If we could do everything in our power to keep that ball in front of us, it’s certainly going to help us.
Because if you make a mistake in the outfield you’re looking at at least a two-base mistake, which puts somebody in scoring position; in some cases, a three-base or, even a four-base mistake. So let’s make sure that we know exactly what we’re supposed to do.
Ground Ball Technique
With regard to the ground ball, there’s about four or five different things that we want to think about. First of all, is a ground ball base hit into the outfield with no one on base. Now I’m going to give my outfielders the option to do one of two things. If it’s not hit hard at all and it’s not deep, maybe it’s a ball that you have to move forward on, we can use an infield technique just like an infielder would field a ground ball.
The second type of ground ball with no one on base will involve dropping to a knee. Now I do this just a little bit different I think than some. Most coaches that have a player drop to the knee, or most players will drop to the throwing side knee. And I don’t like to do that.
I like my athletes to drop to his glove-side knee. The nice thing about having the glove-side knee to the ground is that any event that he gets a bad hop, which is really why you do this technique, he’s got the ability to move. He can move anywhere he needs to go and he can do it very rapidly.
If he drops to a throwing-side knee and goes down to field the ball and happens to get a poor hop and it shoots to his left, he’s obstructed by the leg. It’s hard to get around. So we prefer to drop to the glove-side knee. Because then he can pick the ball up, get himself in position to throw, and get rid of it.
When we put people on base, for instance, a runner on first and a base hit into the outfield where there’s a potential play at third, or it could even be a runner on second who’s going to try to score, we field that just a little bit different. It’s imperative that we run through the ball on this one. We don’t slow down. We have the body in position to get to the ball as rapidly as we possibly can and yet still be able to get our self under control and make a throw.
So on this one, we’ve got a runner on base. He’s going to field the ball outside the left foot. That will allow him to continue to run without having to stop and bend down. If he fields the ball in front of his body, there’s a good chance the left foot’s going to kick the ball out, and at absolute best you’re going to have to slow down to get it down.
So as we field the ball outside the left foot, he doesn’t have to do any slowing down, he can continue to run. And if we teach a good crow hop, then we’ve got a good chance to make a good strong throw without having to do any of the slowing down that’s necessary when you field in front of your body.
Do or Die
The last type of technique that we use with outfielders is with a man on base, but this situation involves what we call a do or die. Man on second base, base hit into the outfield, last inning of the game. If this run scores, the game’s over. There is no margin for error. The player has got to run as fast as he possibly can.
If he kicks the ball, we’re going to get beat anyway. But if he doesn’t come and get it hard, we’re certainly going to get beat. So this is do or die. You’ve really got to bust your tail through the ball, making sure that you give everything you’ve got to get there as fast as possible.
Those are our four techniques with regard to baseball fielding and the ground ball. Again, fielding a ground ball as an infielder would field it. Fielding a ground ball with the drop to the glove-side knee. Fielding a ground ball with a man on base, outside the front foot or left foot for a right-hander; right foot for a left-hander.
And then the do or die situation where we don’t have any choice, we’ve got to come get it in a hurry. If you can work on these on a daily basis or every other day, it certainly helps the technique. Because, again, what we’re going to do is we’re going to develop some memory in our body as to how we want that particular completed.
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