If you’re an outfielder who struggles with fielding ground balls, it’s time to improve your game by developing fundamental fielding skills. Improve your outfield skills by reducing your catch and release transition time. This often makes the difference between a runner being safe or out.
One way to reduce your transition time is by decreasing the number of steps you take while transferring the ball from your glove to your throwing hand—since for every step you take as an outfielder, the baserunner is taking three. The Crow Hop Progression is an effective way to do this.
Kneel on your glove side. With a ball in your glove, rest your glove on the ground. Push off the ground with your front foot into crow hop position. The goal is to cover as much ground as possible while reducing the catch and release time. Quickly transfer the ball from your glove to your throwing hand. Finish by throwing the ball to a partner 45 to 60 feet away.
The standing drill is the same as the one-knee drill, except you are standing with your glove-side knee bent and your glove on the ground. Starting with the glove on the ground reduces game-time errors by reinforcing a proper fielding technique. Begin the crow hop motion by pushing off the ground with your front foot. Transfer the ball to your throwing hand and throw it to your partner, this time 75 to 90 feet away.
For the last phase in the progression, start in a ready position. With ball in glove, visualize a ground ball moving toward you. Approach the visualized ball at full speed. Progress through the crow hop and make the throw to your partner who is at least 120 feet away.
For additional tips, check out Carlos Quentin's Soft Hands Outfield Drill.
Note: The distances are appropriate for high school- and college-aged players and should vary with age and playing ability.