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How to catch a flyball

Spring training for professional baseball players is well underway, and while you might not have a chance to hop on a plane to enjoy the warm sunny weather of Arizona, you can practice to improve your game. One key aspect of great outfielding is the ability to chase after flyballs and send them back to the right player. Here are a few tips to help you field any ball on the fly:

Stay alert - At any given pitch, a batter can send one your way. The beginning motion is called the jump, and you need to be ready to move as soon as the ball is hit. Make sure you can see the path of the flyball by maintaining a visual of the ball from home base. If you know the location of the pitch and certain tendencies of the hitter, you can make an educated guess as to where the ball will be hit .

Don't be flafooted - In order to get a good jump on the ball, you need to have great footwork. Practice your technique daily and include crossover steps, drop steps and drop steps to crossovers. If you have a flyball that's hit directly toward you, don't guess where the ball is going. Wait for your teammates in the outfield to call out to you. They may have a better line of sight on ball's trajectory and can direct you to the right location.

Stay behind the ball - Even if you can't trace the trajectory of the ball when it's hit to you, don't stand still. According to athletic performance researcher Dinant Kistemaker, professional ballplayers don't sprint to where they think the ball will land. Instead, they will adjust their speed accordingly in order to arrive at the location at the same time as the ball. The science behind this strategy revolves around the concept of Optical Acceleration Cancelation, developed by famed physicist Seville Chapman. When players watch the ball rise in the air, they will move forward or backward so that the ball will appear to be moving at a constant speed through their field of vision. Matching the ball's movement through the air with their own movement on the ground will result in being at the right spot when the ball lands. Staying behind it is also strategically beneficial. You can improve how far you throw the ball and reduce the time required to throw if you come up from behind it and move toward the direction of your target in one smooth motion.

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