Baseball Magazine

Sun Balls

Posted on the 06 June 2011 by Meachrm @BaseballBTYard
A tough play that is rarely practiced is the fly ball in the sun.  Here are some suggestions and tips for players with regards to handling balls hit in the sun. Suggestions:Get a pair of sunglasses.  Not all glasses are alike.  Try a variety of styles and lenses if you are able to in order to tell which style is most comfortable for you.  Different color lenses apply to different sun and sky conditions.  You want to pick a pair that you can see clearly through as well as have good depth perception on batted balls.  Flip-up glasses are a bit old fashion but some players like them better so check them out as well. 

Sun balls

Not having/wearing sunglasses is an
inexcusable offense for any fielder.

Bring them.  Never be caught without them.  Get a sunglass case and keep them in your baseball bag for safe keeping.
Wear them.  Forgetting your sunglasses or just forgetting to put them on and losing a ball in the sun is a Cardinal Sin of baseball.  On partly cloudy days, keep them on your hat visor and put them on as needed. Understand that seeing the ball off the bat will be slightly different with glasses on.  Therefore, it becomes very important to practice a few times with sunglasses before using them in a game. 
Check the field.  The first thing every fielder should do when they get to a new field is to check the wind and sun conditions as it applies to their position.  Where is the sun?  What types of batted or thrown balls will be impacted by the sun?  All this must be known before the first ball is hit.
Style points.  You don't get extra runs on the scoreboard because of style.  Don't wear glasses just to look cool.  They can serve a valuable purpose in the right situations but they can hurt performance if they are worn when unnecessary.  Use them wisely and for the right reasons.Tips for balls in the sun:Stiff-arm the sun.  The first thing a fielder should learn to do is “stiff-arm” the sun.  Stiff-arming means straightening their arm out and blocking the sun as much as possible with their glove.  This works well as long as the ball is not directly in the sun.  Blocking the sun with your glove usually allows a player with glasses to see any ball that is not directly in the sun.

Sun balls

"Old School" style flip-ups
by Under Armour

 Change the angle.  The toughest part to catching sun balls is handling balls that are directly in line with the sun.  If your eyes, the ball, and the sun are all in the same line (the “sun line”), the ball will probably not be caught even if the fielder has glasses.  Blocking the sun with the glove blocks the ball as well.  One way to combat this is to change the angle on the ball and the sun.  Moving a few feet to either side and looking up at the ball sometimes takes your eyes away from the “sun line.”  It may be enough to get the ball out of the sun in order to catch it.
Practice.  Like everything else, if you want to get better at something, you have to do it more often.  If you are a coach, do a drill where you position your fielders so that they face the sun.  Lob balls up into the air so the ball is right in line with the sun so the players can work on the options listed above.  The drill also gives them a chance to try out different types of sunglasses if players pass around and share the ones they own. The reality is that there are times when the fielder tries all of the above and will still be unable to see and catch the ball.  It's just part of the game.  The point is, fielders need to practice the fundamentals of sun balls so that they can do everything within their control on these types of plays.  

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