When the drop-step is not used on fly-balls hit over their shoulders, these are the things that can happen:
- On a ball hit sharply over their shoulder, an inefficient (or partial) drop-step often leads to the ball drifting over the opposite shoulder.
- A poor drop-step on a ball hit to the side of the outfielder can lead to a poor angle to the ball. When a poor angle is taken, it leads to additional steps to get to the ball (and the ball more likely to get past the outfielder).
- A partial drop step will often lead to the player taking a “J” cut…which means they take a step to their side before they start to go back on the ball. Again, this leads to extra steps getting to the ball.
- NOTE: While drop-stepping plays a huge role in the outfield, it is also important for infielders to learn. Many “bloopers” are missed by the infield as a result of a poor drop-step.
Now that we know the importance of the drop-step, here is a quick review of the basics of this technique:
- As soon as the player identifies the ball COULD go over her shoulder, she takes a step “back” with the proper foot.
- The player throws her hips open in order to get her body positioned properly to take a great angle back to the ball. Some coaches use the phrase to “open the door” with the hips. The video shows a good example of the outfielder “opening the door” and taking a FULL drop-step in order to take a great angle to the ball.
Drop-steps are a key aspect that players need to learn when you are teaching them how to catch a fly ball. Be sure to work this into your practices and emphasize it with both your outfielders and your infielders this season!