Outfielders need to be on their toes and in the know with every batted ball. Being aware of how many outs there are – as well as how many runners are on base – can help your fielding approach. Baseball pro Bryce Harper knows that once the ball is hit toward the outfield, he needs to get his mind moving. Find out how this symphony of situation and technique combine for success in this Pro Tips breakdown.
UNDERSTANDING THE SITUATION
As you’re tracking a fly ball and practicing your outfield fundamentals, it’s important to think through your play. “So, what’s going through my head is, ball goes in the air, okay, who is on third base? Is he quick?” Harper says. “Where am I at on the field? And what’s my route?”
Understanding what to do after catching the ball is necessary because it can increase your efficiency in the field. If you already know where you’re going with the ball, you can be quicker with your throw from the outfield. A quick throw can give your team a better chance of getting runners out on the basepaths. Knowing your route and field location can also help your baseball throwing techniques.
Regardless of the situation, you need to remember to make the first play in order to get to the next. Harper stresses the notion of catching the ball first before trying for the next out. “You don’t want to make a blunder,” he says. “You drop that ball and then the other guy scores and you get no outs.”
While you need to think ahead to plan your throwing technique, you still need to focus on your fundamentals. Track the pop fly in, secure the catch and then move into throwing the ball in.
MAKING YOUR THROWS COUNT
Once you’ve secured the catch and developed your plan, Harper notes your next move is to make a proper throw. You should aim to make a strong throw to your target on one hop, he says.
In addition, you also want to ensure your throw is going to the right teammate. “If there’s a runner on first, [I’m] throwing through my cut, just in case my first baseman needs to cut the ball, throw it to second and get that out instead,” Harper says.
There’s a lot that can go into a simple fly ball. Take these Pro Tips from Bryce Harper and make sure your defense stays solid all season.
Looking for more star-studded advice for your outfield game? Listen to these Pro Tips from Mike Trout on gauging the wall.