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running back to catch a ball hit directly over you

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  • running back to catch a ball hit directly over you

    I was drilling small groups during our team's last practice on catching fly balls. Some of them had trouble with balls hit directly at them and over their head. They would turn to one side and run back, then change their mind and spin and turn to the other side, almost always dropping the ball.

    I told them on balls hit directly over them to turn to their throwing arm side and run back, keeping their eyes on the ball the whole time--reason being that if they run back with their glove side arm on their trailing side, it's easier to track the ball into the glove, since when the glove is lifted when you're in that position the glove is going to naturally be held between your eyes and the ball. But I also said if they felt more comfortable doing it the other way, and it worked for them, that was OK.

    Does this seem like the right advice? I just checked Cal Ripken's book, he says they should turn to their "strong side" on balls hit directly over their head.

    By the way, the biggest issue I see with youngsters and fly balls is persuading them to hustle their buns quickly to get where the ball is going to fall early, so they have time to set up in a good position and are able to make last-minute adjustments if needed. They all want to dog it leisurely and arrive at the spot where the ball is coming down right as the ball's arriving. I will keep driving the point of "get there early!"

  • #2
    Originally posted by Megunticook View Post
    Does this seem like the right advice?
    You do turn and run to throwing side. Also it is easier to recover if you step back first.

    This is the most difficult fly ball to catch. It is very difficult to judge distance on a line drive or fly ball hit directly at you.

    If they miss the catch, encourage them to still hustle to the ball. A quick recovery can save a base or two.

    Practice is the only way to improve this skill.

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    • #3
      I don't think there really is a hard and fast rule. You might start out running back one way and then the ball will start cutting or slicing on you and you'll have to be able to turn the other way to catch it. On top of that there are times when you should take your eyes off the ball and sprint to a general location and then look back up. Bottom line is you do what you have to do to make the play. Talent here really has a big advantage. Best thing you can do to improve is take thousands of fly balls.

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      • #4
        To me, turning and running to the throwing side makes for easier adjustments at the last second. It's hard to explain in words, but try it each way and you will see it is easier to adjust if you have the glove closer to the flight path of the ball, than if you have to reach back across your body.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by JCincy View Post
          … This is the most difficult fly ball to catch. It is very difficult to judge distance on a line drive or fly ball hit directly at you.
          Its not just flies and liners that are the most difficult to catch. A ground ball right at a player is the most difficult to judge the speed of, and how its bouncing.

          Practice is the only way to improve this skill.
          Spot on! That’s true for improving any skill.
          The pitcher who’s afraid to throw strikes, will soon be standing in the shower with the hitter who's afraid to swing.

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          • #6
            What about playing the tail for LF and RF? A ball that you first read as right at you will likely tail towards the foul line. Should the corner OF both turn towards the foul line to break back on balls "right at" them?
            @noontimegifs

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            • #7
              Agree with mellowthunder that there's no hard and fast rule. For deep balls that I have to catch on a dead run, I prefer to drop step to my glove side because it allows me to reach further for the ball.

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              • #8
                I've never seen this question asked before. I had to give it some thought based on having been an outfielder and years of coaching. I had to do visualization of the past.

                I believe you can train a player what to do and he'll never excel at this play. The player has to practice it to death until what he does is instinct and comfortable with him. A ball appearing to come one foot to either side may determine how the outfielder sees the ball and which way he breaks. Hooks and slices are different. When possible the player has to break in a manner where the ball comes back to him rather than away. Sometimes he just has to outrun the ball.
                Last edited by tg643; 04-19-2012, 06:18 PM.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by scorekeeper View Post
                  Its not just flies and liners that are the most difficult to catch. A ground ball right at a player is the most difficult to judge the speed of, and how its bouncing.
                  Amaing, but true.

                  In basketball while the kids are dribbling around chairs and with defenders, etc the coach will hold up a number of fingers and the players will have to tell us how many fingers so that we know [1] their head is up when they're dribbling, but also [2] they are actually looking for information and not just "looking up".

                  Likewise, we tried something similar by having our 10yo's count the hops as they were fielding the ball and call out the number after they threw the ball to first and put it in the bucket. We were amazed at how many were not able to do this, which indicated to us that they are likely just fielding whatever hoip they can rather than "picking one out", which might be normal for this age ... I'm coming from HS/JH to 10U. But to the side, you can see them come in and get the big/short hop, and to the right, you can see them decide to play a deep backhand, or come in for a shorter play. Right at them, they have difficulty deciding whether to come in or half step back.

                  In the OF, we have started teaching our guys just to start with a half step back, and get a read. Since we play shallow anyway, and so many of the teams are speed based, there's not a whole lot of "over their action" anyway. Given that so few HS OF's can really go back on a ball that's over their head and make the catch, at 10U our strategy has essentially been, half-step back and if it's over your head run get it and throw a rocket to the cut.

                  We had a kid in HS a few years ago that was able to do this very well. We called him "The Flystrip" ... he got all the flies that came near him. Get it? Not all nicknames are great ones.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Kaizen View Post
                    Agree with mellowthunder that there's no hard and fast rule. For deep balls that I have to catch on a dead run, I prefer to drop step to my glove side because it allows me to reach further for the ball.
                    Glove side is what is taught because of what you said.
                    Major Figure

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by omg View Post
                      Originally Posted by Kaizen

                      Agree with mellowthunder that there's no hard and fast rule. For deep balls that I have to catch on a dead run, I prefer to drop step to my glove side because it allows me to reach further for the ball.
                      Glove side is what is taught because of what you said.
                      I tend to agree for this reason - in a sense for the same reason that a righty first baseman normally catches the ball with his right foot on the base - more reach. And, the younger the player, the more likely that a kid can adjust when he's catching forehand rather than backhand. But, once kids get on the big field, it's more likely that anything hit to a corner outfielder will hook/slice toward the foul line, so they'll usually turn toward the line on anything that starts over their head.

                      What is equally important is avoiding paralysis by analysis. Rather than worrying about which is "right", the kid should be told/guided to pick whichever side he 'prefers' and, if in doubt, just turn that way. Again, this is particularly true for younger kids, who will start trying to catch everything forehand, then once the learn to catch backhand they catch everything that way because it seems safer, and then finally they learn to turn their glove as needed.
                      sigpicIt's not whether you fall -- everyone does -- but how you come out of the fall that counts.

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                      • #12
                        Proper way to teach is turn glove side and run like hell...take a slight arc and come back under ball in proper throwing stance.

                        SC

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