Fielding is one of the most crucial aspects of a baseball game. A good fielder at the edge of the field can effectively make or break a game by keeping a keen eye on the baseball and knowing when to run where and how to dive when taking a catch.
If you are seeking to improve your skills in diving during baseball catches, you need to drill yourself. Before anything, you must be at the top of your physical prowess when fielding on the baseball field.
You will need it even more than the players on the pitch because your job is to be ready to start running at virtually any second. As soon as the batter hits a ball high into the air and you see it somewhere near your position, you have to sprint accurately to the spot where the ball is expected to land. This is achievable only through rigorous training.
One of the problems with being a player on the outfield is that if a ball doesn’t come to you often, you may get lazy and relaxed. If you want to be an expert in getting catches and diving for them at the right time, you have to absolutely alert at all times during a game.
Following are some great tips which will help you succeed in scoring catches in a baseball game and diving at the right second:
The first thing you must do when you expect that a ball will come towards you is to take a step back. With extensive practice, you should make it a sort of reflex action.
This is because chasing a ball in front of you is easy, all you have to do is run. But if you run forward and then realize that the ball is going to land behind you, you would have lost your momentum. So as soon as the ball is hit, just take a step back and adjust your visuals to realize where the ball is expected to land.
After this first step, if the ball is going to behind you, you can sprint towards it and if it is in front of you, you can start running towards it.
You can’t take every catch. If you attempt do so, you will end up missing many balls. You must make a sound judgment on every hit. Can you take the ball in the air? Be fair and assess this rationally. Or can you take the ball on the ground? If you attempt to take every ball in the air, you will end up losing balls left and right and conceding points to the opponent team.
So when you can take a catch, put every effort into taking it. But if you can’t, your all efforts should be focused on nabbing the ball before it’s too late and escapes by your side.
You may be tempted to run after a ball in a straight line hoping to nab it in the air but in many cases, this leaves you short on the path and the ball flies above you.
A good way of avoiding this is to make it a habit of taking a diagonal path towards a ball when need be. So if the ball is flying to your left and you can directly reach it, take a diagonal path as you run towards it. This way you will get closer to the ball while also getting right under it. This will help you take the ball at the right spot.
After diving and taking a catch on the infield, make sure that you have landed in such a position as to throw the ball accurately towards the target. Many players take a good catch but they don’t have a balanced stance after the catch.
This leads to delays in the throw and points are conceded to the batting team. You can avoid this by making sure that when you land after a catch, your feet are widely planted on the ground so that you throw a strong, quick toss towards the target.
It is an excellent practice to come together with your team mates at the end of your game and get feedback about your performance. If you take a great diving catch, that can become the highlight of the game. So be sure to perfect your judgments and training.
At the same time, it is not just diving catches which bring outfielders fame and success but also that they must follow other fundamentals throughout the game. So for instance if you take an impossible catch and then miss a few fields, this is not going to shine well on your name.
On the contrary, if you occasionally take a brilliant catch but mostly remain one of the most formidable outfielders by never letting the ball escape, this can lead to real long-term success.