Fans love to watch their favorite ball players make diving catches in the infield and the outfield. The amazing catches prove that the players are fully dedicated to making outs and helping their team win.
While professional ball players make it look easy, the diving catch requires a significant amount of practice. Once a player commits to a diving catch, they have to have the perfect route and be dead on to make it. If they miss, the runner can get extra bases and if there are runners on base, they have the opportunity to score.
Making a diving catch can also be painful, especially if the defensive player makes a mistake on the landing. Due to these possible difficulties, many young players are hesitant to make a diving catch.
To help them get better at the skill and develop confidence, here are some tips to help them make the diving catch:
Every Ball Needs Backup Coverage
One of the first tips that every baseball player should know is that there should always be a second defensive player helping to get the ball. This way, if a player misses a diving catch, there is another nearby who can help make the play. Failing to get to the play is one of the biggest mistakes that young baseball players make, which is why missed diving catches can go so wrong.
Dives Should be Low
While a sky-high dive can look inspiring on a television highlight reel, there is no need to dive high up to catch a ball. The most successful dives actually happen close to the ground. Baseball players do not just upwards to dive, they head toward the ground so they can get the ball before it lands and quickly get back up. Diving should not slow down a player like sliding into a base does. It should help the player move quickly to the ball.
Keep Your Eye on the Ball
As you commit to the dive, it is important to always watch the ball. The moment that you take your eye off of the ball, you could lose it and give up a hit and possibly a run. Catching a ball in a dive is just like catching any ball. You want to see the ball land in the glove.
Do Not Extend Your Arm
To protect your body and make the catch, you do not dive with your glove arm extended. This can be too hard on the arm. You make the dive and as you are sliding quickly to the ball, you then extend the arm to make the catch. Think of it like running to catch a popup. You do not run with your arm extended, you only extend your arm after you get to the place where the ball is going to land.
Get Up Quickly
The next important step is to get up very quickly. Even though you have made the catch and the batter is out, there could be runners on base who simply have to tag up before running to get to the base. If you stay on the ground, the dive you made could still result in a sacrifice fly or a runner getting closer to home. You need to be quick to your feet and quick to hit the cut-off man.
The same goes for infield dives. It is important to be extremely quick to your feet to hit the cutoff man. You might even be able to make a double play if you can be fast enough. You might catch the runner in between bases and get into a pickle play.
Practice the Dive
In order to be good at making diving catches, you have to practice diving. There are drills that coaches can use to help kids learn how to get the ball without hurting themselves. The drills are similar to those that teach kids to dive into a swimming pool. Kids start on their knees and the coach throws the ball to their left or right sides. Kids than dive from their knees to make the catch. This eases them into diving from their feet and it helps them understand how to position their catching arms.
Commit, Practice, and Be Smart
The best tips to catching a fly ball is to just decide to do it. Defensive players should always dive on their chests, rather than on their sides because it is easier to get up from the chest and safer to land, too. To get up from the dive, using both hands is important. Good defensive players will throw to the cutoff man from the quickest position they can – which could be from one need. The best dives often come from low squats for safe landings and sure catches. And, always keep your eye on the ball.