An outfielder doesn’t quite have the easy time that some people think when they play softball.
They have to back up the infielders on groundballs, just in case one gets past them. When they get to the balls in the outfield, they need to field the ball cleanly and throw it to the proper cutoff man.
But that means that if you’re an outfielder, you have to pay attention to improving outfield softball tracking.
The importance of tracking the softball in the outfield is crucial. This skill allows you to set up properly for fly balls and ground balls. When you deal with a fly ball correctly, you get an out instead of an extra-base hit. Deal with groundballs properly and you can minimize the damage and limit the base runner to just 1st or 2ndbase instead of 3rd.
So you can’t limit yourself to developing your speed in the outfield. It doesn’t matter if you’re fast if you can’t see or track the ball, or if you don’t know where to position yourself. Knowing how to track the ball properly is part of your responsibilities. And it’s actually more than just seeing the ball.
As an outfielder, you need to develop your drop step as an instinct. Your first reaction is to go back a step every time. You don’t go forward. You take a step back with the leg on the side of where the ball is going.
So if the ball is to your left, you react by stepping back with your left leg. You then angle yourself to the left too. What if the ball goes directly over your head? In that case, you drop back with your leg on the glove side.
Keep in mind that it’s a step back, and not a huge jump going back. So you have to maintain your balance as you take a step behind you. This should be so instinctive that even for foul balls, your leg and body reacts with the drop step.
Sprinting in the outfield is a little bit different than sprinting in the 100-meter dash. After all, you’re wearing a glove. You also need to figure out which direction to take.
In the outfield, dealing with the sun is part of the job. That means you’ll need to wear proper eyewear and eye black to cut down the glare. It’s best if your glasses are comfy, shatterproof, and polarized.
Also learn how to use your glove to shade the sun while you track the ball’s movement in the sky. And if you lose sight of the ball, tell it to the other outfielders so they can help you out.
The wind can also affect the trajectory of the ball, and on windy days the wind can really affect how the ball travels. There are 2 possible ways to deal with the wind.
Colliding with the fence is one way of getting yourself hurt. It’s really painful when you’re running hard when your head is turned towards the ball and you suddenly encounter the fence.
You need a lot of experience if you’re bent on improving outfield softball tracking. But you can do this with drills that help develop the knack of reacting correctly with the right leg for the drop step. Keep practicing until it becomes second nature, and don’t stop practicing even if you think you’ve become an expert in tracking the ball.