The best outfielder communicates well with his teammates. This helps both the other outfielders and infielders to understand where each player is and whether to back up the play or go for the ball. At the same time, good communication limits collisions and ensures players' peace of mind when trying to catch the ball.
How to best communicate with your teammates on fly balls
- When calling for the ball, keep it short and repeat your words three times (e.g. "Me! Me! Me!" or "Ball! Ball! Ball!"). Do not take your eye off the ball when calling for it. Be aware that both you and the infielder or fellow outfielder may have called for the ball at the same time. If this occurs, call for the ball again more forcefully, and ultimately, rely on the prioritization guidelines below.
- Once a fellow outfielder has called for the ball, curve behind him to back him up. Depending on what position you play, you might have the authority to call another fielder off the ball.
- Communicating distances among outfielders is important. On fly balls, outfielders should yell "Back!" or "Front!" since they have the better side-angle. On fly balls to the wall, outfielders should yell "Track!" or "Wall!" when their fellow outfielder is approaching the warning track.
Fly Ball Prioritization
- Between Outfielders:
- Center fielder over right or left fielder: The center fielder has precedence over both the right and left fielder. He can "call off" the right or left fielder if he thinks he has a better shot at making the play. The center fielder is usually faster than either the left or right fielder, so he should be able to cover more ground.
- The most dangerous ball is a fly ball in the gap. Both the center fielder and left fielder think they can catch this ball and sprint towards it. If no one communicates, then both could end up diving head first into each other. Calling loudly and more than once for the ball is very important because this will allow the other outfielder to veer off and back up the play. Remember, if the center fielder calls for the ball, it is his.
- Outfielder over infielder:
- Since the outfielder is running in towards the fly ball and the infielder must go back, the outfielder has the authority to "call off" the infielder. If the outfielder does not think he can catch the ball or if he thinks the infielder is better positioned, the outfielder should back up the infielder.
- Note: Never try to catch a ball without communicating to an infielder who has already called for the ball. This leads to collisions.