"Baseball is a game of inches," is an often-used phrase, so true, and nowhere is that more evident than with base running. Saving an inch or two when running the bases makes all the difference, whether players are out or safe. A couple inches saved here and there may mean a couple of extra baseball games won during the year, which may lead to a championship.
Unfortunately, many coaches are like most youth baseball players, and believe good base running is all about speed. Because of that erroneous thinking, coaches do not teach the little things that save those inches. I could make a strong case that base running is the most taken for granted aspect of baseball instruction, but that is a story for another day. Good baseball coaches do not neglect the importance of those little things that save those valuable inches. Following are baseball instruction tips that coaches should not allow players to neglect when practicing base running. Many of these may seem basic and just common sense, so they are taken for granted, but they take continual practice and reinforcement to perfect.
* Know the game situation before running
* Know where the ball is at all times and when they do not, learn to check with the base coach immediately
* Have knowledge of the defensive alignment before the pitched ball
* Look down at the base when they are close to it this may seem obvious but many players take their concentration away from which part of the bag they actually are placing their foot on - front part of the bag when running through it and the inside corner of the bag when rounding the base
* Touch the base with the foot that is "there," without ever breaking stride
* Run hard all the way through 1st base and hard when rounding bases until the defense has them stopped
* Know exactly when to round the base and how to round it correctly
* Realize the play is not over once arriving at a base; staying alert until the ball is back to the pitcher's mound
* Take the correct distance lead-off from the base - generally, a three and a half step lead from 1st base at the back part of the base and a walking lead from second and third, a couple of steps to the outside of the baselines
* Are in the maximum balanced position when in lead off position, ready to go either way
* Take a secondary lead, which has their right foot landing as the ball reaches the hitting zone, prepared to go either direction
* Always having an anticipation of in-the-dirt, pitched balls
*Know different methods of sliding hook, fade away, pop up, head first, slide away grab with hand roll over - and when to use each technique, as well as when to slide and when not to
As noticed, there are many little things that go into good base running and things that must be practiced and not taken for granted. Good coaches provide this valuable baseball instruction to help players reach their potential, as well as for winning more baseball games.
After playing major league baseball, Jack Perconte has taught baseball and softball since 1988 and offered valuable coaching training too. He has helped numerous youth players reach their potential, as well as having helped parents and coaches navigate their way through the challenging world of youth sports. Jack is one of the leading authorities in the areas of youth baseball training and coaching training advice.All Jack Perconte articles are used with copyright permission.
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