Tracking and catching a fly ball are challenging skills for younger players. A simple and fun way to develop hand-eye coordination and space awareness on a field is to practice the reaction pop-up drill.
To do this drill, all the equipment you will need is your child’s fielding glove and a ball. A baseball, softball, or tennis ball all work great. Your Little Leaguers® should also wear the hat and cleats they normally wear to practice or a game.
Facing away from you from about 10 feet, the player assumes an “outfield ready-position” fielding stance, with the knees slightly bent, feet shoulder-width apart, and the glove and bare hands separated.
When you are behind the player, you will call out “ready position.” After the player assumes the ready position stance, you say “go!” At the same time the players spins around in a natural, controlled manner, toss the ball high into the air.
Fielding Position and the Catch
The player is to move into position under the ball and make the call to catch it, for example chanting “Mine, Mine, Mine.”
As the ball descends, the player should extend both of their arms to catch the ball in the gloved hand. As the attempt at a catch is made, instruct the player to catch the ball in the pocket of the glove. The glove needs to be above, and slightly in front of their head, so to see the ball go into the glove. Once the ball is in the glove, the player should and cover it with the bare hand.
Repeat this drill several times and vary the height and direction of the ball. Remind the player to move the feet, while continuing to track the ball. It is recommended that this drill is done away from any trees or other structures. For younger players, use a tennis ball or other softer ball of similar size.