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Six Traits That Make a Great Outfielder

Written By: Garrett Gordon

Do you have the qualities that make a great Outfielder?

“But the outfield is boring”

At the youth level, outfielders may not get much attention or glory. This is because at the younger levels many balls are not hit to the outfield. Therefore, kids get bored and end up picking daisies and staring into the distance.  As a result, the ball has now been hit to them and they are not prepared at all.  And let’s be honest, everyone wants to be the shortstop, but people forget that’s the coach’s kid’s position. Therefore if you can’t field a ground ball in the infield or throw the ball to first base, chances are you’ll be in the outfield.  So why not make the most of it, and become a better outfielder.

bring more to the table

As kids reach the high school level and beyond, not only being able to play the outfield well is important, but it can change the outcome of close games.  It also can make you a more valuable player and gives you three more positions to play if you’re fighting to get in the line-up. Being a great outfielder doesn’t mean just being fast and having a strong arm. It is much more than that so let’s dive in.

Six Traits That Make a Great Outfielder

1. Anticipation

great plays are made by staying ready

As an outfielder, you can go a whole game without getting the ball hit to you.  But that doesn’t mean you’re any less important than other guys on the field. Being ready for each pitch is key to making a play.  Having the mindset on every pitch that the ball is coming your way will leave no room for surprise. Once you lose focus and wander off mentally, that is when the ball finds you. As a result, you are not ready and most likely fail to make the play.  Get ready each pitch, be prepared, and anticipate that the ball is coming to you.

2. Communication

keep everyone on the same page

Typically the leader of the outfielder is the centerfielder, but that doesn’t mean the left and right fielder don’t need to communicate what is going on.  Being aware of where the other team is in the lineup is important to gain an understanding of what you’re up against for the first three batters of each inning.  Communicating with your fellow outfielders and infielders about who is the other team’s best hitter and what to expect is key for making plays. Therefore, taking a couple of steps back and to the hitters pull side can potentially give you a couple of extra steps to make a play.  Don’t stand in silence, communicate in between pitches and hitters to set yourself up to make plays.

3. Awareness

know what you’re going to do before you have to do it

Understanding your role in game situations is key to performing well in the outfield. First off, you have to be aware of the situation and whether there is a runner on base or not.  Secondly, depending on what the situation is, you should mentally go through the possible plays that would involve you. Outfielders always have a place to be. Therefore, backing up throws in the infield can save your team from giving up extra bases.

4. Footwork

How to Stop looking like a baby deer

At the younger levels, there is not much emphasis on outfield footwork.  Mainly due to the lack of coaching and the lack of kids desire to play the outfield.  But not everyone can play the desired position they want.

In the next few videos, I will be explaining why and how you should practice your footwork.  

Ball in Front

Ball Hit Soft to the Right or Left

Ball Hit Hard to the Right and Left

5. Throwing Accuracy

If you’re going to airmail it, don’t forget to put a stamp on it

Nothing is worse than an outfielder trying to throw out a runner or hit a cut off man and then missing them completely. As a result, this let the runners take extra bases and runs scored by the opposing team. A lot of times outfielders will try and make the throw in the air. This would work if you have the arm strength like Yasiel Puig or Yoenis Cespedes. But even they throw the ball with a “long hop” to the base. This is a more efficient way of throwing runners out.  Check out the clip below of Aaron Judge displaying perfect throwing accuracy.

6. Reading the Ball

knowing where the ball may land

In my opinion, this is the most important ability an outfielder can have.  Whether it is a line drive that drops shallow in the gap in which you have to cut off on the ground or a ball deep over your head.  As an outfielder, you have to have the ability to have an idea of where the ball may land once it is hit. Therefore, You could be the fastest guy in the world but if you can’t read the trajectory of the ball it doesn’t matter how fast you are.

Mookie

In the clip above you can see Mookie Betts making an incredible play. This is because he immediately takes a good drop step once the ball is hit.  As a result, he has somewhat of an idea where the ball will land.  You can see while he is running to make the play he takes his eye of the ball twice.  This was crucial for him to be able to maintain speed and READ THE BALL.

Final Thoughts

Becoming a Great Outfielder takes time and repetition. We can all agree that there are some key tools that an outfielder needs to have in order to perform well.   Training your speed, arm strength, and everything covered in this article will set you up for making plays on the field.

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One thought on "Six Traits That Make a Great Outfielder"

  1. Josh Salwen says:

    Great Article! When moving to bigger fields, young athletes tend to struggle with communication. As a youth coach (15U), I have a communication component is all drills, and specifically for OF.

    Just the simple “in, in, in” or “back, back, back” from a teammate can turn a double into an out on defense.

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