Every baseball player needs to know baseball pop fly priorities, i.e. chain of command, so players won’t be fighting over who should catch a fly ball.
A well-played pop-up is often an easy out – but DON’T take that for granted.
A poorly played pop fly is not only embarrassing for the players, it can lead to errors, runs for the other team, and even dangerous collisions.
So here it is.
***Pop fly priorities broken down for the whole field***
- Centerfielder has priority over the left and right fielders.
- Outfielders have priority over the infielders.
- Shortstop has priority over everyone in the infield.
- Middle infielders (SS and 2nd base) have priority over the corner infielders (1st base and 3rd base).
- Corner infielders have priority over the pitcher and catcher.
A side note: Your coverage zone may be more or less than shown on this diagram, because a player’s range differs according to his individual athletic abilities and pre-pitch positioning.
“I got it.” The player who makes the catch should yell “I got it, I got it, I got it,” and the person(s) he is calling off will say nothing so there won’t be any misunderstanding on who should catch the ball.
Wave your hands. As an infielder if you are going back on the baseball and you are calling the baseball, along with yelling, wave your hands in the air so the outfielder can see that you are calling it. When there are a lot of people yelling and the infielder is yelling back towards the catcher, often times the outfielder won’t hear anything, but he will see the infielder waving his hands.
Dealing with potential collisions:
If there is a chance of a collision between and infielder and outfielder on a fly ball, the outfielder will slide feet first and the infielder will stay on his feet. This is to prevent a head on collision. A glancing blow is better than a major collision.
–Example 1: Colliding the Dangerous Way
Red Sox’s Johnny Damon was knocked unconscious in a head-to-head collision with second baseman Damian Jackson.
–Example 2: Trip to the Hospital Avoided
In this next example, major injury was avoided because good priority protocol was followed.
Red Sox left fielder, Jacoby Ellsbury, and third baseman, Adrian Beltre, both ran hard after a pop fly. Ellsbury slid just before collision, following proper pop-fly priority protocol for outfielders, and effectively avoided a head-on collision. His quick response likely saved him a concussion and trip to the hospital, if Johnny Damon’s experience is any indication. Click here to watch the video.
I hope this article on baseball pop fly priorities and how to avoid injury helps you play smarter, safer, and more effectively. I invite you to ask questions or leave feedback in the comments section below. Play hard! – Doug
More Pro Tips and Baseball Instruction
- How to Throw a Baseball, Part 1: Four seam Grip
- Baseball Mental Preparation
- Knowing the field as pregame preparation
- The Baseball Swing, Part 1 – Rhythm
- 7 Things Every Good Hitter Does
- Batting tee drills – a project to support the 100’s of pages of free baseball instruction on this site
The best way to avoid collisions is if the only person calling for the ball is the one who has the right of way. The other fielder who does not have the right of way should keep quiet and if they don’t get called off it is their ball. If the player with the right of way calls for the ball the other fielder should avoid contact and position themselves so they can back up if the ball is missed. I can’t believe how many times there are collisions in the MLB when they should be well versed in right of way at that level.
If the shortstop is getting dizzy it means he/she is back peddling too much. The should be no more than 2 backpedals before the SS turns to the side of the baseball and runs it down.
How does a shortstop avoid getting dizzy when they have to go backwards on a high infield pop up