Baseball coaches can never assume that all of their outfielders know exactly where to position themselves. That’s why they should be prepared to position their outfielders using hand signals. Coaches should make sure that their outfielders are looking at a coach in order to receive the sign. Most of the actual hand signals are universal, such as pointing your hands toward your chest to have them move in a little. There could be variations in hand signals from team to team so coaches should make sure they are clear on what sign is used for each signal.
Common Signs and Signals For Positioning Outfielders
Here are the most common directions that coaches will use a hand signal for during a game and a signal they may use for them.
Play Straight Up Sign
This signal is to tell their outfielders that they should play what is called straight up, which means to play at normal depth and not shade much to the left or right. Coaches may choose to signal with a hand moving up and down from their head to their waist.
Play the Gaps Sign
If a coach wants a corner outfielder to play more in the gap rather than straight up, they will normally takes both hands and bring them together signaling them to move more into the outfield gap.
Move Toward the Line Sign
This is a simple signal that a coach gives which basically tells a corner outfielder to move more towards the line rather than straight up. The coach will simply point towards the line when looking at the outfielder that he wants to position.
All Outfielders Move In Sign
A coach may want an outfielder to move in based on the batter at the plate or the situation in the game. The hand signal is normally the coach taking both hands and touching his chest.
All Outfielders Move Back Sign
A coach may also want an outfielder to move back and play deeper based on the batter at the plate or the game situation. A common hand signal used for wanting the outfielder to move back is the coach waving his hand behind his head. However, that signal normally means to move back several steps in every inning but the last one. In the last inning, the same signal usually is the no doubles signal. That means the outfielder will move back even farther to prevent a double that could put a runner in scoring position.
Outfielders No Dive Sign
Another signal that coaches may use in the later innings is the no dive signal. If an outfielder dives for the ball and doesn’t come up with it, it normally results in the runners getting extra bases which is not something you want in the late innings of a close game. The signal can be a coach extending his hands in front of him and then waving them signaling not to dive for any balls.
Move Over and In
There are times when a coach not only wants an outfielder to move in one direction or another, but also wants them to come in a little. To give this sign, the coach will typically take one hand and tap their chest, signaling to come in, and with the other hand will signal the direction they want the outfielder to move over.
The Baserunner is Running
A simple signal a coach can give an outfielder is to let them know that the runner on base is running, for instance on a 3-2 count. That signal is normally the coach moving his hand in a circular motion letting them know the runner is going and that they should be aware.
Outfielders Throw the Ball to Second
Coaches will also let outfielders know which base to throw to if the ball is hit to them. Tapping the top of the baseball hat is a typical signal to let them know to throw the ball to second base. In fact, most outfield throws should go to second base. There are two main reasons for this. First, by keeping the hitter at first base, it always keeps the double play in order with less than two outs. Second, it keeps the runner out of scoring position, possibly saving a run.
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