Who said baseball players can’t fly? In the outfield, scaling the wall to make a leaping catch or bring back a home run is an electrifying, crowd-pleasing play that can swing the momentum of a game in one fell swoop. This isn’t usually a skill that comes naturally, however. Mike Trout, professional baseball player and wall-climbing veteran, says that one of the first things an outfielder should do to gauge potential catches at the wall is to survey their surroundings.
A great time to get a feel for your outfield dimensions is prior to the first pitch during batting practice or pre-game warmups. “I come out, check how far the grass is to the wall and how long the warning track is,” Trout says. “The last thing you want to do is track a fly ball, run full speed and hit the wall.”
Once you get comfortable with your outfield, you can start to judge where you should begin to brace yourself. Knowing how many steps you have from the grass, through the warning track, and, finally, to the wall can be crucial when you’re tracking a ball over your shoulder. Trout notes that knowing the number of steps he has before impact has helped his ability to keep his eyes locked on the sailing fly ball. “If I take that third or fourth step, I know in the back of my head I have to brace myself to hit the wall.”
You can also develop a reflex to help you brace for the wall, like putting up your forearm or bracing with your throwing hand to help make for a more comfortable landing. Trout, for instance, says he has developed the habit of hopping after his final step in order to get his body ready.
Trout recommends getting these steps down before the game and to remember them as you’re tracking a potential wall catch. “The worst thing you possibly could do is, you’re going for the ball, you’re tracking it, you’re tracking it and you put your arm up to catch the ball and your elbow or your arm hits the wall and the ball hits the bottom of your glove and you drop the ball.”
Having a grasp on your surroundings can help you stay in highlight form in the outfield this baseball season.