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Tips for Base Runners on Each Base

Base running is one of the most critical aspects of the game, and each base presents its own challenges and keys to remember. As you are teaching your athletes the importance of base running, make sure you cover the following keys for each base.

On First Base

  • While on first, look for signs from the third base coach
  • Keep track of other base runners and the number of outs
  • Take a primary lead of about eight feet off of first base
  • As pitch is delivered, take secondary lead of two or three lateral steps
  • If the pitcher turns to pick off the base runner, the runner should dive or run back to the base
  • Be alert and get back to first after the pitch, or the catcher can pick you off
  • On a fly ball with less than two outs, move halfway towards second and hustle back to first if it is caught
  • On a hit to right field, glance at the third base coach when going from first to third. If hit to left field, take a look and make a decision on your own
  • On double plays, avoid letting the second baseman tag you. Force a throw to second in order to allow the hitter more time to reach first and slide into second base regardless of the situation

On Second Base

  • Focus on the pitcher without looking at the middle infielders. The coach should watch the middle infielders and warn the runner if they are in danger of being picked off
  • Take a primary lead of about eight feet off of second base
  • As pitch is delivered, take a secondary lead of two or three lateral steps
  • If the pitcher turns to pick off the base runner, the runner should dive or run back to the base
  • The lead can be taken back from the baseline for a better angle on rounding third if the runner is not stealing third base
  • The runner should be more aggressive with their lead at second, but still cautious
  • Plan on scoring on any base hit that is not hit sharply at an outfielder
  • If the runner at second base is the only runner on base:
    • A ball hit to the runner's left should allow them to advance to third
    • A ball hit to the runner's right requires them to wait until it goes through the infield to advance
    • A ball hit right at the runner requires them to make their own decision while avoiding getting hit by the ball at all costs

On Third Base

  • Take a walking lead of about six feet down the line in foul territory as the ball crosses the plate
  • The runner's right foot should strike the ground as the ball enters the hitting zone
  • Stay in foul territory when taking a lead and head back to third in fair territory to disrupt the catchers attempt to throw a pick off
  • Always be in a position to tag up on fly balls in the outfield
  • Run hard to home plate and slide when necessary

The "Figure Four" Slide

  • Don't be afraid to get down, go feet first and get an early start
  • While running full speed, drop down landing while folding one leg under the other in a figure four
  • Throw hands up to shoulder level. Do not put hand down to brace yourself to prevent injury
  • Sliding in with the left leg extended makes for optimal positioning to advance to the next base
  • Safety tip: Hesitancy in sliding is what causes injuries
  • Practice tip: The best way to practice sliding is on grass without shoes or with a breakaway bag and sliding mat