How to Avoid Pop Flies in Baseball
Hitting a pop-up is one of the most frustrating experiences for a hitter, because it’s likely going to be an out. A pop-up also rarely helps any runners advance because the ball is still too close to the infield. While you can’t eliminate all pop-ups in your batting future, you can certainly reduce the number of pop flies buzzing around your at-bats.
Keep Your Hands Up
Keep your hands above the ball as you swing so the bat comes down at an angle across the ball. The result is that the bat covers more area of the ball than it would if the bat was straight out.
Stand toward the back of the batter's box to give yourself a slightly longer look at the ball and to give the ball a chance to drop a little. It will be easier to keep your hands above the ball if you're not chasing a pitch that's still high in the strike zone as it's about to cross the plate.
Watch the pitches coming in to the batter ahead of you and time your warm-up swings to those pitches. If necessary, take a pitch when you're at the plate to get a better idea of the pitcher's velocity and his pitch location.
Practice your hitting stroke with a baseball tee, as well as against live pitching. With an adjustable tee, you can practice your swing at different heights. The more you practice with the idea of keeping your hands above the ball, the more comfortable and natural it will seem during a game.
Avoid Bunt Pop Flies
Keep your bat at the top of the strike zone as you prepare to bunt. If the pitch comes in higher than your bat, don't try to bunt.
Keep the bat head angled downward as you bunt. If the pitch is low, bend your knees to reach it instead of dipping the bat, as that can raise the risk of a pop fly.
"Catch" the ball with the bat, rather than reaching out to hit or slap at the ball to put it in play.
Practice is the key to getting better at any skill so practice batting as often as possible, preferably with a variety of pitchers.
Be careful not to overcompensate and hit down on the ball so much that you're smacking ground balls into the dirt in front of home plate. Picture a swing that's essentially level, but with the hands slightly above the ball.
James Roland started writing professionally in 1987. A former reporter and editor with the "Sarasota Herald-Tribune," he currently oversees such publications as the "Cleveland Clinic Heart Advisor" and UCLA's "Healthy Years." Roland earned his Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Oregon.