Fielding Groundballs

Next, an outfielder will understand groundball situations - he will know when to go to a knee in conservative situations and when he is forced to make a “do or die” play. There are six different types of groundball situations that an outfielder needs to execute: (1) routine groundball with no runners on base, (2) routine groundball with runners on, (3) groundball to the left, (4) groundball to the right, (5) groundball base hit with a runner on second base, and (6) groundball single – possible double. In all situations, cutting down the distance is vital as the outfielder should be shortening the distance between his starting position and where the baseball first touches the ground.

Cutting down the distance on a groundball leads to many positive things for the defense. First, cutting down the distance allows the outfielder to decide the hop on which he plays the ball – the ball will not play him. Second, cutting down the distance forcing runners to stop and not take the extra base. Third, it helps the outfielder gain momentum toward the infield on the throw. Fourth, it shortens the distance of the throw. Finally, it forces the third base coach to hold more runners from scoring. Aggressive outfielders run to groundballs and change the game for the team.

In a conservative situation, the outfielder can field the ball like an infielder or even go down on a knee to make sure he fields the ball cleanly. By practicing fielding the ball conservatively during the 100’ drills, outfielders should build the proper skill of fielding the groundball when under no threat of the baserunner advancing. For example, when there are no runners on base, a runner only on first and a ball hit through the infield, or the ball is hit sharply enough with a runner at first that the runner will only be able to advance one base. The outfielder should attack the ball with a good angle and make the body “big,” covering the space between the legs with his glove. This keeps the ball from getting by the outfielder and allowing extra bases. After securing the ball, push up from knee to crow hop and make a strong accurate throw back to the cut-off man.

In a “do or die” situation, the outfielder executes a more intricate set of movements while under pressure. The outfielder runs into a lunge position with his throwing leg back and his glove leg forward. He moves his glove outside of his front foot and reaches for the ball past his toes. As he fields the ball, he goes right into a crow hop, transferring the ball into his throwing motion so he can deliver the ball when he lands on his crow hop. This technique is highlighted in multiple videos, including the Line Drill, and explained below. A “do or die” situation occurs when a runner is trying to advance from first to third base, or from second to home.

An outfielder must also recognize the proper angles to take on groundballs to his left and/or right so he can slide effortlessly to cut off balls in the gap. He will be able to field a groundball well on the run by fielding the ball on the outside of his glove foot when working through the baseball on the ground. An outfielder knows how to create a good angle to the ball and through the ball so he can be behind the ball to line up an excellent throw.