The fly ball. It can be a pitcher’s best friend in a spacious ballpark or their worst nightmare if they have guys playing behind them who don’t have a clue. One of the biggest mistakes I see as a coach is when a player takes a bad angle to a fly ball. It happens much too often at the younger levels and it can really turn a simple base hit to right field into a circus. I have observed too many sharply hit singles that turn into triples because the outfielders run sideways instead of taking a deeper angle to the area where the ball is hit.
A lot of things come into play for an outfielder when a ball is hit. How deep am I playing, which direction is the wind blowing, remember to run on the balls of my feet so my eye balls won’t jump up and down, will the guy next to me hear me when I call it or just trainwreck me ala Jeff McIntosh at Cactus High circa 1991. No bad feelings buddy. I just couldn’t walk for 2 days after you drove your dagger-like kneecap into my quad muscle and flattened me in left center. A lot of things come into play and when doing drills, so it’s best to start out simple by throwing baseballs, not hitting them.
What I have listed below is an excellent drill for you to use for your players to work on taking good angles to fly balls. Once they get good at this you can increase the difficulty by throwing the ball over their opposite shoulder so they have to snap their head around in order to catch it. This will simulate a windy day or simply losing sight of the ball on your route to it. All you need are a couple of cones and balls.
Fly Ball Angle Drill (3 cones)
1.) Place a cone or object down for the starting point.
2.) Space out 2 cones 30 feet apart from the start point at a 45 degree angle.
3.) Partner points to one of the cones and the player opens up that hip and drop steps in the direction of the cone.
4.) Player sprints past the cone and then while in stride looks over their shoulder for the ball.