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How To Catch A Fly Ball | 5 Easy Steps

Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez made it sound so simple when it came to catching fly balls…
"Just stand out there and stick your glove out in the air. I'll take care of it.”
If only the rest of us had the privilege of Benjamin Franklin Rodriguez hitting flies to us for the rest of our lives. But the reality is that he won’t be hitting flies to us or to our players. Thus, we’re going to need a little formation to ensure that we use our outfield gloves to catch fly balls correctly and that we can pass down the knowledge to our players.
We'll give what we believe are the five (5) basic steps needed to track down a ball hit into the outfield on a fly. And as you go through this How-To blog post, you'll notice that we'll be instructing on how to catch a routine fly ball (i.e. one that can be caught with minimal-to-moderate effort).
Let's dive in!

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Step 1: The Stance

When manning the outfield, it’s always good to be in an optimal position before the baseball or softball is hit to you. This writer has found it helpful to set yourself at a half-crouch with your hands on your thighs (you'll see above that our outfielder has his throwing hand on one thigh and his Mizuno glove on the other thigh). Standing in this manner helps with being able to move in any direction needed once the ball is hit. Be sure to note that this position will be different than the especially-crouched position used by infielders at pre-pitch.

Step 2: First Movement

The First Movement For Catching A Fly Ball

As an outfielder, you’ll see the ball come off the bat and you’ll need to pivot to the side at which the ball is flying. For example, if the ball is moving to your left, simply pivot your left foot back at an angle (or straight back). Same goes for a fly hit to your right.
This movement can actually be used for non-routine balls hit deep over your head or ones that are hit short and land in front of you. By your first movement being the kick-back of your foot, you set yourself in the best position to get around a routine fly ball (or in the case of a deep fly, you are in position to move directly to the spot of the catch). And for balls hit in front of you, this movement is not a bad option either as you’ll be able to plant hard on the foot you kick back and then start charging in at full speed.

Step 3: Rounding The Ball

How To Round A Fly Ball

If possible, you want to catch the baseball or softball with your momentum taking you back towards the infield and where you will be throwing the ball. To do this, you’ll need to work to get around the spot where the ball is going to be caught.
At first this is going to be a scary movement to master. This is because rounding a fly ball is more difficult than running directly to the spot where the ball will be caught. However, if you can get around the ball before catching it, you’ll be in a much more optimal position for getting the ball back to the infield quickly and with a throw that has some zip behind it.
(Please note that on deep fly balls, it is typically best to run directly to the exact spot where the catch is going to be made and not to worry about rounding the ball)

Step 4: Catching The Ball

The Moment Of Catching A Fly Ball

After rounding the spot where the catch is going to be made, you will want to align (or chop) your steps so that at the moment you’re catching the baseball or softball, the matching foot of your glove hand is touching the ground (i.e. if you throw with your right, then you catch with your left hand and you’ll want your left foot touching the ground at the moment of the catch).
Again, if you wear your glove on your left hand then you’ll want to be stepping with your left foot at the moment of the catch, then planting with your right foot (as you load to throw) and then stepping forward with your left foot again as you prepare to throw and release the ball. Ultimately, you’ll only want to take the three (3) steps shown pictorially above after catching the ball and up to the moment you release it.
It is best to make these steps become so second nature that you don’t even think about them. This way, you can focus entirely on the ball as it comes into your glove.
Lastly, in order to pull the ball out of the glove as quickly as possible after the catch, we recommend having your throwing hand right next to the glove while making the catch.

Step 5: Throwing Back To The Infield

Throwing Back To The Infield After Catching A Fly Ball

On your third footstep as you're preparing to release the ball (shown pictorially in Step 4), your throwing arm will come through with the throw and your back leg will be driving the throw at the same time. Once you’re about to release the throw back to the infield, be sure to be mindful of flicking your wrist at the moment of the throw. The wrist-flick will be the action that gives the ball backspin and thus more carry as it flies toward your target (see the two steps of a good wrist-flick in the image above). The wrist flick allows your ball to “go through” the target instead of just softly arriving there.

Pro Tip: Close Your Mouth

Close Your Mouth While Catching A Fly Ball

This writer is not actually certain of the physiological validity of this claim. However, during his career playing baseball, he heard this advice given to players that were having a hard time tracking the ball and making catches. The advice was: Close your mouth while in pursuit of and catching a fly ball.
The theory that he heard in support of closing your mouth while running was that it keeps your eyes from excessively bouncing. Again…no confirmation if that theory was true.
But from his recall, the writer remembered it working for him. And as long as it doesn’t give you trouble breathing while going after fly balls, implementing this piece of advice doesn’t hurt .
No matter if you're coaching a team of baseball or softball players or need some help manning the outfield on a slow pitch field, we hope you found this article helpful! If you've made it this far and are still needing some help finding that perfect outfield glove, then give our Glove Experts a call. They can be reached through phone at 1-866-321-2287 or you can start a LIVE CHAT right now!

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