Developing a personal fielding routine and using it consistently is one of the best ways to keep your defensive game sharp. A smart routine helps an outfielder develop good habits, consistently work on the routine plays and challenge himself on difficult plays.
What is a fielding routine?
A fielding routine is a series of physical and mental purposeful steps that you perform before games that will help you get ready. These are things that get your mind and body ready to play.
Fielding routines can be altered to fit how your body is feeling that particular day, but the basic pre game template that you came up with shouldn’t completely change. Consistency is the key to baseball and practicing it will help you during the game. I know this may sound strange, but it works.
Remember quality over quantity.
Why are fielding routines important?
Outfield is an area where people tend to take breaks from the game. It is easy to take your last at bat into the outfield and be thinking about how you missed the last fastball you saw for the whole inning you are on defense.
This pre game preparation helps your body get your mind right even if your mind is wandering. I am not saying that every pitch you are going to be 100% locked in, even though that is the goal. But the more we practice with consistency the quicker we may be able to bounce back from a wandering mind. Plus you will be an overall better defender because you practice all of the plays that may happen during the game, daily.
It is this preparation that gives the confidence that gives your game the extra edge. Believing in yourself and trusting the work you do will go a long way. This is a key component to fielding and being the best all around player you can be.
Consistency is Key!
Fielding routines, no matter your position, should be done every day you get on the field for batting practice. You need to remember not to get tired, this is preparation for the game.
Customize your own routine, so you can work on the plays you feel good about and the ones you need to work on. Any routine is good, keep it efficient and consistent. The mental toughness it takes to go through your routine when you don’t feel like taking balls off the bat is what separates the good from the great outfielders.
Sample Practice Routine
3 times a week. Work on using long hops, the last 2-5 minutes of playing catch. Get to at least 150 feet and one hop it to your partner. Make it easy for him to catch.
3 times a week. The same day you work on your long hops, take 5-10 fungos (ground balls or fly balls from the coach) and throw to a certain base. This doesn’t have to be full speed. Vary the throwing depending on how your arm feels.
Everyday. Take live balls off the bat in batting practice. This is as close to game like as you are going to get. You will get better at reading spin and working on everything. When taking balls off the bat, work on….
- Getting behind the baseball and set up for throw.
- Taking good angles on ground balls to hold runner to single.
- Coming through ground balls like there is a play at home.
- Running after balls to see the balls you can run down.
- Work around the fence and warning track to be comfortable.
- Get used to catching balls in the sun.
Have fun. Make basket catches, work on over the shoulder catches. You never know when you may need it in a game.
This shouldn’t take very long, if done efficiently. These are things I feel are important, but come up with your own routine and see how it works for you.