Flyball Fundamentals

Once the player understands the proper footwork, the outfielder can move into learning the proper fundamentals to use when catching a flyball.

When catching a flyball, all players should work to get behind the baseball in the air so they can be moving forward on the catch instead of fading backwards. This requires an element of athleticism and hustle, and it is vital in catching balls in the air. Also vital is the understanding of the four basic types of balls in the air - a line drive, a simple pop-up, a ball squared up and over the outfield’s perimeter, and a flare - a ball that is dying quickly. A good outfielder will react appropriately to each of these types, especially when given many practice opportunities at each type. Finally, catching the ball in a strong position - the wrist stacked on top of the elbow, the hand moving to cradle the ball backwards and not bat the ball forward, and bringing the arm-side hand to cover the catch and be prepared for a quick transfer - is an important element to teach all players.

When teaching the proper flyball fundamentals, starting players with catching tennis balls with their bare hands can really build the appropriate skill and movement. Tennis balls and barehands can teach the players that proper positioning faster than the glove in many cases. In addition, whether with tennis balls or baseballs and a glove, using slow motion or freeze techniques can enhance the teaching. A freeze technique essentially asks the player to hold his position upon the catch so he can see and feel the proper positions. The presence of tennis balls forces the player to feel the proper fundamentals in catching the flyball.

Outfielders can practice catching a flyball many ways and the following drills are some of our favorites. All of these drills are active and keeps standing during practice to a minimum. The Line Drill, whether executed with tennis balls or baseballs, is an excellent drill for basic groundball and flyball fundamentals (see Line Drill movie).

Tip: Judging the depth and movement of a line drive is difficult. When getting a read on a line drive, use the bill of your cap as a guideline. Generally, a line drive that is below or even with the bill of your cap can be attacked by coming in on the ball. If the line drive forces you to move the bill of your cap up and goes over the bill of your cap, heading back on the ball is advisable.