Coaching Academy: Outfield Defense

Outfield Defense Characteristics

We just wanted to share a few thoughts for youth baseball coaches regarding coaching outfielders.

What are the Roles of Outfielders when the ball is not hit to them?

If you want to find out who really understands baseball and who really wants to play, look at what the outfielders are doing when the ball is hit away from them.

There is always a place for Outfielders to be. They should be in the right spot before a bad throw is made.

Situational Roles of Outfielders

Man on 1b and the runner bunts a ball down the third base line.

  • Right Fielder: hustle over toward the foul line and put himself in a line from the ball thru first base to his position.
  • Center Fielder: will put himself in a line from the ball thru second base to his position.
  • Left Fielder: should go to the fence area on the foul side of the baseline. He should be in a line from 1b thru 3b to his position.

Man on 2b and a hit to the left fielder.

  • Left Fielder: comes up throwing to home plate.
  • Center Fielder: (assuming the ball was hit directly to the left fielder and did not have to worry about making a play on batted ball) will put himself in a line from where the cut man is (the third baseman) thru second base out to his position.
  • Right Fielder: would position himself in a line from cut man back thru first base to his position on the foul side of the right field line. Why? He needs to be there in case the ball is cut by the 3b and the batter runner has run past first base and is coming back. If the cut man cuts the ball and makes a poor throw to 1b, the right fielder is there waiting for this to happen.

A base runner is stealing second base

  • All outfielders: should converge to 2b after the ball has crossed the hitting zone.
  • It is easy to see the center fielder moving in to second, but why would the right and left fielders converge toward second base? If the throw to second base hits the runner and changes direction, it could deflect out towards the left or right fielders. The outfielders should be anticipating possibilities before they really happen!

Nobody on and an extra base hit to left center field.

  • Center Fielder/Left Fielder: chase after the ball.
  • Right Fielder: break towards second base making sure that the first baseman is trailing the batter runner. Assuming that is the case, the right fielder will position himself in a line from the relay men in left center field (the second baseman and the shortstop) thru second base to a position in the outfield.
  • If there is a runner on first base, the first baseman now will not trail the runner into second base, but rather assume cut position from outfielder, to relay thru cut to home plate. Now, the opposite outfielder (the right fielder) should go to second base and trail the batter runner to second base.

Why do we need anyone at second base?

  • We need to make sure the batter runner can not go as far as he wants to third base and then change his mind and go back to second base without the threat that the defense can throw behind him. Having someone behind the batter runner forces him to make a decision about advancing to third base from a position much closer to second base. This keeps the batter runner more honest.

NOTE: Coaches, make sure your Outfielders know they have responsibilities even if the ball is not hit to them. This needs to be discussed and practiced over and over so these ideas become second nature.

What do Outfield Drills look like at baseball practice?

A lot of coaches have asked us online or at our clinics, what do these drills look like in practice? How are they structured and setup? How do you execute these drills? So on and so forth.

The videos below should give a general idea of how our drills look like at baseball practice.

Free Outfield Drills

Outfield Drills

Get these free outfield drills that every fielder needs to be doing during practice. Here are the drills:

  • Find the Spot
  • First Step
  • Circle vs. Reverse
  • Ground Ball Footwork
  • Diving

Get these free drills here.

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