It’s always a good idea to spend some time on pop-ups, especially the ones that are hit directly over our head. In today’s video blog post, we are demonstrating a great pop-up drill that focuses on proper fielding mechanics for overhead balls.

Over the Head Pop-Up Drill

For this drill, I like to use a foul line (or if working indoors, you can use a gymnasium line, a basketball line, a volleyball line, etc.)

Set up your players directly straddling the foul line.

We’re going to assume a ball is going directly over our head. Which direction we turn will depend on several factors.

  • The wind. If you have a heavy wind blowing toward you, then you can assume the ball is going to keep moving the same direction. So we want to open to the ball side.

  • A right-handed hitter. If a right-handed hitter hits the outside of the ball, it is going to spin away from you, and you can assume the ball is going to continue that way and you would open up to that side. Clear your body to the ball and now you can see the ball over your shoulder as you go get it.

  • In contrast, if the ball is coming and you turn and the ball is still over your head and you can’t see it, you’re blindly going over a ball. So you’re going to have to be sure to drop step far enough. You really have to stress opening and getting to the side of the ball. Then you can field it over our shoulder, go out, follow it, and catch.

  • Very simple drill, but it’s one that needs to be used over and over because, invariably, athletes will try to turn and they’re still in line with the ball and they can’t see it and then they’re blindly trying to catch it. So the key is open wide enough away from the line. And we teach that with just this. Set, open, go back. Set, open. Until they get the sense of how far they’re actually moving away from the line. This is a good little drill. It’s one that needs to be done because there’s so many balls that go directly over infielders’ heads and they end up struggling to catch them when it really isn’t that difficult of a play. And so that pretty much takes care of what I just wanted to discuss on pop-ups. The one that’s critical and the most difficult one. The one over your head.