The following tips on how to play outfield will help you create a foundation of knowledge and technique that will make you a better outfielder, maximizing your natural talents and helping you go as far in this game of baseball as you can.
1. Ready Position
This is the position we should be in every time when the ball is being pitched and traveling through the strike zone.
2. Movement of baseballs off the bat
Most of the time, balls that are hit to outfield are either hooking or slicing. This will affect the corner outfielders more than the centerfielder. Balls that are hit back up the middle towards the centerfielder can have some movement but usually have more backspin and less sidespin.
Balls hit towards the corner outfielders will likely have some hooking or slicing action depending on the side of the plate the hitter is hitting from. The action of a batted ball tends to hook or slice toward the foul line. Very rarely you will see a baseball start toward the line and work back into the gap.
3. Movement of baseballs on the ground (snaking ground balls)
The outfield grass is different shades of green because of which way the grass is laying, so when the ball is rolling towards you the ball will actually “snake” or zig zag left and right depending on which way the outfield grass is laying when the ball is rolling over that section.
This can be tough for some fielders to get used to this when fielding ground balls. Just know how the ball is rolling, take your time, and watch the ball into your glove.
4. Using a crossover step
Using a crossover step is the foundation to starting your track after a fly ball. This is where you can save valuable steps by getting to where you need to go in a straight line.
Our first move from our ready position is to make a good, hard step.
This step is made by if we need to be going left, we will take our right foot and throw it over our left foot in the direction we need to run. This movement is quick and violent, so we can get to top speed as quickly as possible.
The opposite is true by going to our right we will take our left foot and throw it quick and violent over our right foot in the direction we need to run.
5. Catch the baseball with your eyes
As the baseball is coming down and it is about to fall into your glove, keep your glove out of the way of your eye sight.
Every outfielder has done this before and it gets a little scary because when your glove crosses in front of your eyes you lose track of the baseball for just a split second but that is about the time you are catching the ball. This is how people drop fly balls.
6. Run on your toes
When outfielders are running after the ball, sometimes it might feel like the ball is bouncing all over the place. This happens because of how you are running after the baseball. When you run and your heels hit the ground first at impact your eyes will bounce and it will give you the illusion of the baseball jumping all around. To minimize this bouncing, try letting your toes hit the ground first and the impact will be a lot softer on your eyes and you will see a big difference when running after a baseball.