Outfield 5: Using the Long Hop

Understanding how the long hop can be used for more efficient throws.

What is a long hop?

A long hop is when a player makes a throw to a base or target and purposely lets the ball take a bounce about 10-15 feet away from the target. 10-15 feet is an ideal distance because it will allow for only one hop and will be an easy hop for the person catching the ball.

If the ball takes a hop too close to the person catching the ball (3-6 feet) it will be a very difficult catch.

Pro Fielding Tip:

As an outfielder making long throws, using a long hop (as opposed to a rainbow throw) will be more accurate and quicker. It puts your team in control of the base runners. Being able to accurately use a long hop will make your arm strength look better and will create more outfield assists.

If the ball takes a hop too far away from the person catching the ball (20-30 feet) it will take a second hop and will slow the ball down considerably. However, this throw is much easier to field than if your hop is too close. You are still giving your teammate a chance to make a play. So you would still rather make the ball hop twice than throw a short hop to your teammate.

  • Short hop – A short hop is when the ball bounces 3-6 feet away from the person making the catch.
  • Long hop– A long hop is when the ball bounces 10-15 feet away from the person making the catch.

The long hop is a much easier ball to catch than a short hop.

Throws from the outfield

After we field the ball and we have to make a long throw to a base we have a couple options. If it is too far of a throw to make it all the way in the air while keeping the ball on a straight line, we can either throw the ball so it has an arc or let it take a hop.

Keeping the ball down and using a long hop is more efficient than throwing the ball all the way in the air with an arc.

  1. It gets to the target quicker. It has been proven that as long as you are not letting the ball bounce on extremely high grass or very wet and soft infield (where the ball will almost stop) the ball will get to your target quicker if you incorporate a long hop.
  2. It is more accurate.As long as the ball is on line to the target, using a long hop is a more accurate throw. When throwing the ball high in the air, the ball has to come down where the defender is so he can make the catch. Usually the margin of error is about 6 or 7 feet (depending on the players height). A person catching the baseball has no chance if he can’t reach the ball.Throws using a long hop are more forgiving of mistakes. Even if the throw is 30 feet short, it will still bounce to your teammate. If the throw is a tough short hop, the defender can keep the ball in front and not allow the runner to move up, which is very important.
  3. It gives the cut off man control of the situation. This is important because the cut off man can let the ball go to the intended base or cut the ball and redirect it to another base for an out. If the ball is too high, the cut off man is of no use and the ball dictates what happens with the base runners rather than one of your teammates.
  4. It controls the offense/base runners. When the ball is thrown from an outfielder low where the cut off man has a play on the ball if he wants, it halts the advancement of base runners. It lets the defense control the running game.

Practice

Practice using a long hop when playing catch and warming up. The last few throws you make, practice bouncing the ball so it takes a nice easy to catch hop to your partner. This is a throw that needs to be practiced and will be extremely useful once the game starts.

  1. Throwing a Baseball Part 1: Grip
  2. Throwing a Baseball Part 2: Mechanics of Throwing
  3. Throwing a Baseball Part 3: Feet Position, Upper Body, & Feel
  1. Outfield 1: The Basics
  2. Outfield 2: Tracking Fly Balls 
  3. Pop Fly Priorities
  4. Backing Up Bases

All Articles for Outfielders

About Author

Doug Bernier, founder of Pro Baseball Insider.com, debuted in the Major Leagues in 2008 with the Colorado Rockies, and has played professional baseball for 5 organizations (CO Rockies, NY Yankees, Pirates, MN Twins, & TX Rangers) over the past 16 years. He has Major League time at every infield position, and has played every position on the field professionally except for catcher. Where is he now? After batting .200 in 45 at-bats and fielding .950 during 2017 spring training with the Rangers, Doug was assigned to the Ranger's AAA team the Round Rock Express. You should click to watch this great defensive play by Bernier

3 Comments

  1. Thanks for you’re comments. We are watching the world series, and I was explaining the bounce throw to my wife. I appreciated your extra facts. I would make the following suggestions to your paragraphs for improved wording:
    too close, not to close
    as opposed to a rainbow throw, it will
    too far, not to far
    the ball dictates
    it controls the offense: The base runners

    • Bruce, thanks for the compliments and also for the corrections! Doug is more of a baseball guy than a grammar guy. However, good grammar is important for clarity, so we appreciate you taking the time to help us out! Warm regards,

      Sarah

    • Thanks Bruce,
      I always appreciate help in that department. Usually my wife helps me with this but this may have been a time I put something out without her checking it first. Thanks for the help.

      Have a good day,
      Doug Bernier

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