Ok. You’ve hit the ball and it goes sailing into center field. Now is the time to run! Baseball requires not only the ability to run from base to base, it requires the awareness of where the ball is and what the opposing team is doing with it. You have to think two bases ahead and decide how you’re going to get there.
Like everything else in baseball, good base running requires hard work, practice, desire and hustle.
Begin with a warm up to loosen up your leg muscles. Do a nice easy job around the field for 2-3 minutes.
1st base - Stomping the bag
When running to first base never stop short. If the play is close you run as hard as you can to beat the throw. Make sure you “stomp” the bag when running to the base to ensure you’ve touched the bag.
Keep your butt low to the ground with chopping steps to be prepared to take advantage of an overthrow to beat the first base throw or proceed to second base if they can’t recover the ball quickly enough to make a play.
Taking a Lead
Once you've reached first base, your primary goal is to take “a lead” or a few steps off of the base to disrupt the pitcher's timing and possibly get to second base. There are many schools of thought of how long a lead to take. Determine the amount of lead you take off first base by your ability to return to first base without getting thrown out. Every coach wants their players to be successful on the basepaths. But it all starts with a smart, aggressive lead off of first base. The number one rule as a base runner when you are not standing on the base, is keep your eye on the ball.
|Photo credit: Courtni Kopietz|
Rounding the bases
If you’ve hit a great shot chances are you can try to run additional bases. When rounding a base, players need to focus on maximizing speed with minimum steps. Don't go too far out of the straight path between bases (basepath). It will take extra steps to come back to the next base bag.
Be aware of the ball and defensive players and listen to your coach if they tell you to go or hold up. Remember, when taking signals from the third base coach, the runner should have a foot on the base. Too many people get picked off because they are watching their coach give signals while standing off of the bag.
These are the basics of base running. We haven’t touched on sliding as that is a complete lesson in itself. Base running is an art so practice, practice, practice!