The mental aspect of being an outfielder should not be overlooked. An easy way to keep your mind straight is to remember the acronym MAFA:
Outfielders are the last line of defense and need to play with that mindset.
Any lack of focus can be detrimental to the team's overall defensive goals. Even if you go a few batters or innings without action, you must stay mentally sharp and keep the same intensity for every batter.
You must be able to make changes according to the outside environment.
Always keep in the elements in mind; Will the ball be wet? Will the wind carry the ball deep, knock it down short, or blow it to the side? Do I have to battle the sun? How will the length of the grass affect the speed of groundballs?
Each situation presents different circumstances on which you need to focus.
For example, what is the game situation? What is the score? How many outs? What inning is it? How many runners are on base? Did they use a pinch hitter? What are the batter's tendencies? What is the hitter's count? Outfielders should always be aware of their positioning, and that starts with knowing the game situation.
As a competitor, you should want to be involved in every play.
This doesn't always mean making the specific play. It could mean simply backing up an infielder on a play. You should know the role that you are assigned to play and always be ready.
Remember: outfielders can serve as the hero or goat of a game. Using the MAFA technique, it could help you make the game-saving play.
Jason Elias played four years of college baseball. He now serves as a coach, outfielder expert and baseball operations coordinator for the IMG Academy baseball program.