Jim Crane's Outfield Tips

Most people think that an outfielder has an easy job. They do not stop to think that if a ball is hit past an outfielder there is no one to back him up as does an infielder.

1. Position:
An outfielder should assume the same position as an infielder, feet spread comfortably apart, body bent at the waist with the hands on his knees. If he keeps his body properly balanced he will be able to go in any direction easily.
2. Skills:
The two things an outfielder should have are a strong arm and speed. His arm is the best defensive weapon he can possess to stop a runner from taking an extra base. His speed, of course, enables him to catch up to those fly balls hit away from him. Many games are won by the extra step an outfielder gets by extra speed. As has been said many times before, "baseball is a game of inches."
3. Fly Balls:
To start with, an outfielder must learn the correct position to have his hands when catching a fly ball. If a ball is being caught at the chest or above the fingers, his glove should be pointed upward; if the ball is being caught below the chest, the fingers of his glove should extend downward. There is only one way really to learn how to catch a ball--that is to practice. Have someone hit fly balls all day long if possible. If no one is around to hit fly balls take a rubber ball and throw it up in the air, then get under it and catch it.
3. Ground Balls:
On balls hit on the ground an outfielder should get down on one knee and catch the ball. This may seem like a slow method in returning the ball to the infield, but it is also the safest way. As stated before, the outfielder does not have anyone behind him, so he must stop the ball and make sure it does not go through for extra bases. The only help he will have is from the other two outfielders and they should always attempt to back each other up.
4. Team Work:
Not only should outfielders back each other up but they can help each other in other ways. By yelling to each other they will tell which one can catch a fly ball without colliding. With a man on base tagging up after a fly is caught the fielder closest to the one catching the ball should yell wheter the runner tagging up is going for the next base or faking his move. One move that is seldom used by an outfielder, but there is no reason why he shouldn't if the opportunity arises is during a rundown on the base paths. An outfielder should not stand watching the play; he should run in and cover a bag or back up the infielders in case a throw goes will.
5. Throwing:
One of the most talked about mistakes concerning an outfielder is throwing to the wrong base. If an outfielder, like everyone else on the team, keeps in his mind the number of outs in an inning, the score and the inning itself he should not throw to the wrong base. As a rule of thumb, never throw behind the baserunner. The only time you do throw behind the runner is when your team is ahead and the baserunner is question does not matter in the final score. For example, with a man on second and two out in the seventh inning, a base hit to the outfield and the score is six to one. The throw should be to second to stop the hitter from advancing to scoring position.