Baseball Outfield Over The Shoulder Catches | Y Outfield Drill

Baseball Outfield Over The Shoulder Catches | Y Outfield Drill

Have you ever wanted to expand your range in the outfield and make spectacular catches like Willie Mays? The Outfield Over The Shoulder Y Drill is an amazing drill for both youth and advanced athletes. By challenging range, and body mechanics, baseball players will be able to quickly enhance their skills. Utilize the video demonstration below as we take a look at several elements of the drill. We will work through reps and sets, body mechanics, approach to the baseball, and mind set as you extend your range for the over the shoulder catch.



Outfield Drill Set Up

To set up this outfield drill we will need four speed and agility cones. The distances at which the drill will be completed depends on the athleticism of the athlete. For more elite baseball players we will want to extend the distance between 15 and 30 yards. For youth baseball players we will want to place the second cone no more than 8 yards away, drifting the other two out toward the edges of the Y. These distances will help maximize the range of each baseball player. We are not only going to focus on technique but also extending the range of each baseball player’s athletic abilities. There is no way to predict the way a ball will be hit in the game so keep the throws and distances random so that we can mimic game like situations. We will also need to utilize a set of Kbands to help build hip strength and running form throughout the Y Drill. We will walk through the proper techniques utilizing with the leg resistance bands as we dig into the drill.

First Comes The Outfield Y Drill Basics

To begin the outfield drill we will keep things basic. Athletes should face forward toward the extended cones and sprint quickly to the second cone. As the baseball player approaches the second cone, he will then breakdown his running form, taking a couple patter steps to slow his momentum before sprinting to the ball. Now the baseball player will accelerate toward either side turning the head to pick up the baseball. In the beginning we will not be utilizing a baseball, but rather focusing on running form and extending our sprints. The key to maximizing range on the baseball field is having proper body mechanics as we sprint. Spend time working on your arm action with the Sprinting Arm Action Drill to ensure that you have proper upper body mechanics to accelerate your legs. Also you may want to utilize the Baseball Wall Drill to build proper hip flexor strength, driving your knees up to accelerate the body through the dig phase.

As each baseball player finishes 6 to 8 repetitions without the baseball on each side we will then move to the second element of the drill.


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Over The Shoulder Catches

Now we will be bringing in the baseball for this portion of the drill. Keep things simple and alternate sides and complete for the eight repetitions per side before switching to the other arm side catch. Notice in the video we have the athletes face the coach. Keeping the Outfield Y Drill as game like as possible is key. By having the athlete face toward home plate, or the coach, he will have to turn his shoulders and sprint backwards the same way he would have to react during the game. 

It is essential coaches are very vocal in this smaller drill. We will not get the luxury of playing the ball off the bat and taking the read from 200 feet out. In this drill we will be focused on the smaller elements of catching an over the shoulder ball: approach, sprint speed, and tracking the baseball. Meaning, coaches will need to let the players know which side they will be sprinting toward. This can be done as they sprint to the second cone or with a predetermined side before starting the drill. 

Improve Range Like Willie Mays

Remember, the overall goal of of the Outfield Y Drill is to improve the baseball players range and teach them how to read the baseball. One of the toughest things to accomplish when catching a ball over the shoulder is keeping the head steady. As the arms are pumping and the body reaches maximum sprint speed, it's very difficult to keep the head level. When focused on improving range, sprint speed is key but each stride must be smooth. Outfielders must run on the balls of their feet to keep their eyes level. This will keep the ball steady in their vision so that catching the baseball will be much easier. There must be a balance in speed, and running smooth, as maximum sprint speed is achieved.
 Keep in mind, sprint speed can take over a steady head as long as the ball is not close. Lean towards sprint speed when the ball is out of reach and change your stride as you approach the baseball. It does not need to be a continuous steady sprint if it slows you down. Sprinting at max speed must be achieved for a ball near the edge of your range. 

Another way for outfielders to improve their range is by taking the correct route. By running to where the ball is going to be rather then sprinting laterally to the baseball then dropping back in a straight line following the baseball is not what you want to do. The key is reading the ball out of the hand, or off the bat, and running to the spot where the ball will land. Stay compact and sprint hard. Also, as baseball players reach the baseball it's common to go up for the baseball. What this means is that they haven't quite reached the baseball and are now jumping up for it rather than running to the spot. Running to the spot means reaching the destination at which the baseball will be level with the glove. If an outfielder positions himself short of this position and jumps for the baseball, more often than not, they will have misjudged the fly ball. Remember, wind conditions play a major factor in the game of baseball. The balls trajectory can change very easily. With backspin, the ball will travel farther on a windy day. What seems like an easily catchable ball can turn into a disaster. Always run to the spot the ball will land to ensure a great fielding percentage. 

How Many Reps Should You Do

The Outfield Y Drill should be completed in a large group setting or even on a one-on-one basis. Run continuous reps alternating sides or keep things simple and complete sets on one side at a time. Move through 8 to 12 resisted rounds and follow it up with several unresisted rounds to complete the sequence. Rest will become a major part of this drill through the resisted rounds. Give yourself at least a minute and a half between each set so that intensity can be maintained. Repetitions completed at less than full intensity will not increase your speed or give your vision game like reads.


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