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Softball Fielding Tips - Developing an Outfielder

By Beth Keylon-Randolph

Many coaches spend the last five minutes of practice with the outfield. This is supposed to build that “last line of defense.” If you are one of these coaches, you may never think twice about spending more time with your outfield until you find, during a game, that you don’t have one! That’s when the work begins. This outline is designed to help the coach design a plan of attack for developing a strong outfield and incorporate quality outfield training into your program.

Softball fielding tips - the best way to train your outfielders is to hit them thousands of balls.The number one way to train an outfielder is by HITTING them thousands of balls, not by having them run thousands of times for infield situations. The outfield has become a place to put players you aren’t really sure where they should go. They become the infamous “runners” for all situations. Yes, you do have to have them run for situations, but a comprehensive, pre-planned practice can help this group become key members of your team. To create an outfield that is confident, aggressive, loud, and solid make certain your practices address the following basic fundamentals.

I. Introduction to outfield play

A) Reinforce the importance of the outfield.

  • They are the last line of defense.

  • Must hit cut-offs, no extra base hits given up

B) Every play could be the game winner.

C) Communication, Confidence and Speed are absolutes

 


 

II. Basic Fundamentals

A) Ready position/stance

  • One foot slightly back. Stay balanced on balls of your feet.

  • Hands are loose and ready to react.

  • Eyes are focused on the contact point when the ball meets the bat.

  • Communicate with teammates the number of outs, where the play will be

B) Fielding fly balls

  • Drop step to the ball side / cross and go

  • The glove side foot should be forward

  • Player should catch ball over throwing shoulder with two hands.

  • Track the ball, reach out and see the ball into the glove.

  • Momentum should be going forward when catching a ball in front.

  • Balls hit directly overhead are the hardest to catch. Right field and left field should drop toward the line because of the tail of the ball, Center Field should drop step to their most comfortable side.

C) Fielding ground balls (three types: safety stop/one knee, regular infield stop, and do or die.)

  • When fielding a safety stop, player is down in a hurtle position on one knee.

  • Shoulders are squared up to ball.

  • Field ball in front of body in a balanced position.

  • When stopping a ground ball like an infielder, make sure the shoulders are squared up with the ball. The hand and glove are on the ground together with the body low.

  • When fielding a do or die ground ball, the momentum should be going forward. Player should round the ball to be in position to throw (catch ball on glove side), scoop the ball quickly and use the two-step crow hop throw.

  • Make good eye contact with the cut-off person and go forward after the throw.

III. Movement to the Ball

A) Know the pitch!

  • When you throw where the pitch is going to be placed, visualize that pitch being hit and anticipate where you think they will hit it.

  • You will have a jump on the ball by mentally seeing the ball hit.

B) Know the batter.

  • Know what the batter did last time at bat.

  • Know whether or not the batter is a pull hitter.

  • Determine the strength of the batter to decide how deep to play them

  • The flight of the ball can be determined before it is hit if you know how to read the batter’s hands.

C) Read ball height off the bat.

  • A ball that is high immediately off the bat will need to be charged

  • A ball that is driven off the bat will get to you quickly and you may need to drop back some.

D) Drop Step for a ball hit directly over head

  • Drop one foot back toward the flight of the ball. Keep your eyes on the ball at all times.

  • Rotate hips and take a hard pivot back (crossover) to the ball

  • Drive your arms while running to the ball (put a glove on your outfielders when they are running bases)

  • Get to the landing spot of the ball in an all out sprint.

E) Pivot or crossover step when a ball is hit in between outfielders

  • Take a hard pivot, rotate hips, step across body and stay low.

  • Never take your eyes off the hit ball

  • Drive your arms while running to the ball

  • Get to the landing spot of the ball in an all out sprint.

F) Reverse Roll when you have a misjudged a fly ball

  • Roll your hips back toward the infield to the proper flight of the ball.

  • Use short steps to change your direction

  • Keep your eyes on the ball at all times.

G) Angles

  • Take the quickest path to the landing spot of the ball.

  • Read off the bat to tell how deep you must angle to cut off the ball.

H) Circling

  • You must arrive at the landing spot at a position BEHIND the actual landing spot to set up a throw on the move.

  • Run through the ball by catching it on your throwing side with your glove side foot forward.

IV. Throwing techniques

A) Develop a strong and accurate arm by playing catch with long tosses.

  • Keep elbow above shoulder. Get good arm extension and snap wrist at end.

  • Step toward target and make sure to follow through and apply backspin to the ball.

  • Use glove to point at target and pull straight down

  • Use a low, hard throw with a quick release

B) Lots of throwing drills

C) Crow hops

V. Cut offs,  Get the Ball In Quickly

A) Use them when there is no play to be made.

B) Use them when the ball gets past an outfielder

C) Use them when the outfielder does not have a strong enough arm to throw directly to the base.

VI. Communication

Define the terminology you want to use such as “find it” or “mine” or “cut three”, etc.

A) Communication

B) Communication

C) Communication


 
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