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Outfield Tips

    Recently, after a team workout one of my teammates came up to me and commented that he liked the information available here on my blog.  However, he mentioned that most of the information was geared towards pitchers and that in the future he'd like to see more information targeted at the position players.  With that in mind, here's some tips aimed at the players who roam the outfield.  I hope this proves helpful to all of you out there in positions 7 through 9.
    The first thing we should establish is that the preparation for playing the outfield starts long before the home plate umpire yells, "playball!"  The mental and physical preparation to compete at your highest level within those white lines are days, weeks and months in the making.  But for the sake of this article, let's identify the mindset from batting practice to the final out.
    During batting practice make your best attempt at fielding all balls in your position!

    The READY POSITION is one of narrow stance with the weight on the balls of your feet and the center of gravity relatively high, so that the outfielder can move quickly in any direction. He must be ready to move instantaneously in an unknown direction. You should walk into the ready position.

    1. Determine how the ball bounces off the wall.
    2. Determine how the ball meets the corner of the fence.
    3. Say to yourself "EVERY BALL HIT IS GOING TO BE HIT TO ME." Prepare   
        yourself mentally before every pitch. That way you will never be caught off
    4. Be alert to each special situation. Always expect the worst so you will be ready.  
        Know what you are doing with the ball before every pitch is thrown.
    a. Know when the bunt is in order.
    b. Know when the tying or winning run is at bat or on base.
    c. Know who has exceptional speed.
    d. Look for changes in sun and wind.
    5. Study the hitters so you will know who pulls and who hits with power and then play

    a. Read every pitch inside and outside   
    b. Read the bat angle. The hitter will show you where the ball is going.   
    c. Sound will tell you how far the ball is going.

    a. First response is to jerk the head back using 
        inner ear.
    b. Use the drop step for fly balls over your head 
       then cross step. Drop directly towards the 
       straight line route to the baseball.
    c. Always run full speed after fly balls. Get under
       them and wait to catch it.
    d. Never glide to the ball, or get in the habit of 
       timing your catch.  
    e. Always stand deeper from where you think the 
       ball will land so you are able to turn
       through the ball when you make the catch. 
       If possible catch the ball going toward the infield.     
    f. Time the catch and go into a throwing motion. Set up 6-10 feet behind fly ball's
       when possible.
    g. Don't get under the ball. Keep the ball to the side angle. 
    h. Secure/Lock the ball into your glove. 
    i.  On diving catches use the shoulder roll, finish and get the glove up.  
    k. Remember the ball will always slice toward the foul line.  
    l.  Most outfielders use a very large glove. (Many outfielders use a 12.5" to 13.5"
   m. Catch the ball on the throwing side above the shoulder with two hands as the rear 
        foot hits the ground.   

    FIELDING GROUND BALLS: The key is to break hard on every play. Charge all 
    ground balls, even though it is directly at an infielder and appears to be a sure out. 
    Get in the habit of backing your infielders.

    INFIELD TECHNIQUE: Always field the ball in front of you. Right handers practice 
    fielding ground balls on the left foot. Charge at full speed until you are ready to make 
    the catch, then CROW HOP to get under control. After you have caught the ball off 
    your lead foot, throw by planting your back foot. Stare down low line drives and ground

    *Always grip across all four seams with your fingers apart.
    *Always throw overhand with full arm extension.
    *Right-handers TUCK your glove against your chest when throwing to prevent flying 
    *Over-emphasize the follow through when warming up and during infield practice. 
     You'll find this will strengthen your arm as well as make it accurate.
    *Always hit your cut-off man to prevent further advancement.
    *Don't worry about where the runners are. Just hit the cut-off man. 
    *Never THROW THROUGH (shortstop) to your infielders.
    *CROW HOP to target to create momentum and power.
    *After the catch get the meat hand into the glove as quickly as possible.
    *Be sure that you finish with the chest over the front foot.
    *With the baseball stopped at the fence, step over the ball - crow and throw.
    *On the glove side while running hard to cut the ball off - you step over and throw 

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