During this blog post, we’re going to talk about one youth baseball drill that is sure to help strengthen your team’s defense.
Breaking Down the Crow Hop Technique
The crow hop is the essential part for any advanced outfielder’s ability to play that particular position. It’s important for two reasons: number one, it helps us gather ourselves after having run across the outfield to pick up a ground ball or to catch a flyball. It allows us to get rid of the ball very quickly. The second reason is it allows us to put something on it.
You may have seen from time to time kids going after a ball and it seems like once they pick it up, they run forever before they let go of it, or they let go of it off what seemingly is the wrong foot and they don’t have anything on the ball. That’s just lack of preparation.
This is a fairly simple technique to teach and a little bit harder to learn, but you can do it anywhere.
A crow hop is nothing more than picking up the back foot – for a right-handed player, that’ll be the right foot – getting the knee high in the air, and allowing the front side, or his left side, to come around and get him in position to throw. As we break it down with players, we do it this way first, following these steps:
1. Tell your player to drop his glove to the ground. He should have the glove outside his left foot so he doesn’t slow himself down. He should also have his head down so it allows the glove to stay down, which means we’re going to get the ball up in our glove.
2. He should take that right leg and release it and come straight up in the air. It’s important to go straight so his momentum goes straight.
3. Now he’s going to drop that foot to the ground, and he’s going to pick up the left foot. He’s going to drop it to the ground. That squares his shoulders to his throwing target and allows him to get on top of the ball and make a good strong throw.
Walking Through the Technique
From that point, when we’ve gone through the actual technique and they know what it looks like and how to do it, then we back it up and go half-speed. And then we’ll back it up and go full-speed.
Don’t anticipate trying this the first time and making it work. It’s a fairly difficult thing for a player to master, but it’s also something that can be worked on virtually anywhere to get better at it.
We tell our outfielders that it should never take more than 2½ steps to get rid of the ball. So once your player has learned the technique of how to move his legs, his goal is to field the ball and get rid of it within 2½ steps.
If you take an extra step, the base runner gets two extra steps that you’ve given him. Regardless of your arm strength, regardless of any technique that you’ve undergone, regardless of dropping or bobbling the ball, he gets that extra step just because you took too many.
When we go full speed with this technique, a lot of times you’ll notice that we make some mistakes. That’s just because the mind’s having to operate really fast here, and you may not be used to doing that.
So if we have to repeat it every day for two months, then we repeat it every day. If you have to go home and do it in the living room five minutes a day, go home and do it in the living room. It will pay that type of dividend if you know how to do this right.
Check out this awesome drill that gives you a chance to practice your crow hop!
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