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First Base-1B

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LF – The Left Fielder. If you have a choice between two outfielders, put the one with the weaker arm in left field as this is a shorter throwing distance to 3rd base and minimizes the extra bases a team can take on a weaker arm. Left field is usually more active than right field due to a higher percentage of right handed hitters so your fielder must be paying attention on every pitch. Foot speed is a great asset to any outfield position.

Beginner: Don’t expect a lot of fly balls to be caught by outfielders in their early years. The attention span of younger players can be short, especially when most balls are hit on the ground so the outfield can see limited action, and judging a fly ball with eyes open is a courageous feat. Definitely work on fly balls with your young players, but keep your game time expectations low. In game situations, for the left fielder, there two basic and simple rules to follow. 1. assume that every ball hit to the 3rd baseman and the shortstop will be missed. This means that the left fielder must back up the infielders instead of waiting for them to miss ant then chasing the ball. What this does is minimize the opportunities for a batter to reach second base on a ground ball. Second, coach your outfielders to throw the ball to an infielder as soon as possible, and not to the pitcher. Every second that an outfielder holds onto the ball is another 3 or 4 steps for the base runner. I’ve never seen a tag play happen in left field so get the ball in to an infielder right away. Ideally, you want the ball thrown ahead of the lead runner, but this is a rather difficult decision to be made (see next section below). As a starter rule, have the outfield throw every ball into second base. This will form the habit of getting the ball in quickly, without having to make a decision or read the play. More than 50% of the time, this is the correct base anyway! Later in the season you may want to give the left fielder the option of throwing to 2nd or 3rd base, but not to home. Get them in the habit of getting the ball to an infielder right away. I have also seen many young players in left field who believe they can throw out a batter headed to first. They have all been wrong. Most often this leads to an over throw and at least one extra base for the batter/runner.
Drills: have your outfielders work equally on fly balls and ground balls, but don’t hit them right at them. It’s rare that a fielder can make a play without moving their feet. Always make them move at least slight to their right or left. For young players, a fly ball can be scary and potentially dangerous. Many young players will turn their head away from a fly ball and hope it misses them. To build confidence, use objects which are smaller, lighter, and softer than a baseball, and start at a short distance. Good objects include tennis balls and badminton birdies. Wiffle balls are okay as well, but can be quite erratic in their flight if there is any wind. The great thing about tennis balls and badminton birdies is that they are easy to hit consistently and accurately with a tennis racket.
Intermediate: Throwing to the proper base, after a ground ball or a fly ball, is a simple but effective way to reduce runs against. Making the decision on which base to throw to is something that comes with experience and knowing one’s own arm strength. The left fielder has three possible throws to make, 2B, 3B, and Home. Obviously on any single, the ball needs to be thrown to 2B, unless there are runners on base. The decision on which base to throw to can become a very complicated set if IF-THEN situations, made more difficult by the need for the fielder to be watching the ball they are trying to catch, not the position, direction, and speed of the runners. For this reason, the catcher is defensive decision maker. They have the whole play in front of them. It is the job of the left fielder to throw where the catcher instructs them to throw. As a good rule of thumb, if the runner is less than 1/3 of the way to the next base, the left fielder has a good shot at stopping them by throwing to the base ahead of them.
Drill: Balls to the wall, hit the cut off man.
Advanced: An outfielder always has the right to call off an infielder on a “tweener” fly ball. The outfielder is running in, towards the play, and can catch the ball in front of them. As soon as the outfielder is confident they can get to the ball and make the catch, they should yell “mine!, mine!, mine!” or “ball!, ball!, ball!”. Have them yell three times so that they are sure they have been heard. If the fielder only yells once, it is possible two fielders call the ball at the same time and don’t hear each other. As a left fielder, you always give way to the center fielder, on ball in the gap. The center fielder is usually the better fielder, and is at a better angle to throw the ball to either 2nd base or 3rd base after the ball is caught.
For an advanced drill, have your players catch badminton birdies hit over their head with their bare hands. Start the fielder facing you, about 20 feet away, then hit a birdie over their head with a racket. The player needs to pivot to turn to catch the ball over their shoulder. The fielder should always pivot towards the ball so they can maintain visual contact. Gradually make the distance longer, use tennis balls if needed so you can hit them farther..
  The Dream Play: The “Dream Play” for the left fielder is the fly ball to deep left field with two outs and runners on base. After a quick sprint to the wall, the left fielder leaps to snag the ball just above the fence. Landing with a roll and then congratulated by team mates completes the inning.

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To comment on any of these baseball tips please send us an email.  Baseball is a tremendously enjoyable game for kids to play.  These baseball coaching tips are provided to make the game easier to coach and increase the skill level of your baseball players.  This website is dedicated to the advancement of minor baseball players. It is about developing the fundamental skills of young baseball players by providing them instruction and coaching appropriate to their age and skill level.

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