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.
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.
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
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.
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.