Baseball Magazine

Outfielders: Know the Steps to the Fence

By Meachrm @BaseballBTYard
A big part of playing the outfield positions is knowing how to handle a ball that is hit to the wall.  Unfortunately, when you watch outfielders on TV, you are rarely going to get a clinic on how to do this properly.  At the major league level, the corner outfield positions (left field and right field) are becoming much more of an offensive position where players are expected to do more hitting than play defense.  To a degree, these positions have always been more offensive in nature but it seems like that is becoming more the case these days.  It seems like the only outfield position that still focuses more on the defensive side of things is center field.

Outfielders:  Know the steps to the fence

Ryan Braun has moved far beyond being just
an offensive player with his defensive
work in left field.

Regardless of which position is played, here is an important tip any outfielder should know in order to improve their outfield play.
Know how many steps it takes to go from a normal playing position to the outfield fence.
If a player does not know this number, he should take the time to go out onto the field, stand in his normal position, turn and run to the fence, and count the number of steps it takes to get there.  Use different angles to the wall and do the same.  This is important because if you get a general feel for how many steps it takes, you will not have to go back and forth between looking at the ball and looking at the wall as you run.  You can keep your eyes on the ball because you will have developed a feel for how many steps you have before contacting the wall.  On the nicer fields, you may have the benefit of a warning track which will help with this information but most lower level fields do not have one.
Of course, all this is much easier to do on your home field.  On away fields, especially those on which you've never played, you may have to go out before the game and do this drill to get the information.  If you have the luxury of on-the-field batting practice prior to the game, it would be best to do it then.  You'll also be able to read balls hit off the bat during BP to get game-like experience on going back on the ball and dealing with the fence.
If you are a young outfielder, take pride in your defense.  Put a lot of work into it.  Don't be that guy who stands out there and just waits for their next at-bat.  There are too many of those out there already.  The game doesn't need more.

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