Friday Five Tool Tip – Learning to Make Baseball Running Decisions
Baseball Drill to Build Base Running Awareness
One of my first questions to youth baseball players is, “Who do you listen to?” They look at me kind of funny before I repeat, “When running the bases and dad is yelling run and mom is yelling no, or the first base coach says one thing and the third base coach something else, who do you listen to?” Obviously, this is a tongue in cheek question, but one that reflects a common occurrence at youth baseball games.
The point is that base runners, even very young players, need to learn to make their own base running decisions. Following is a good drill to help this process.
Base Running Drill
With a coach stationed at the third base position and another in left field, players line up at home and, one by one, take a phantom swing (no bat) before running towards first. A couple of steps out of the box, players (running full tilt) glance towards the third base bag where the coach is either fielding the ball or turning to look into left field. This is the indicator, which tells the runner either to run through the bag or to round it.
This is the only time the runner should look for the ball before touching first base or rounding it.
When the coach had turned around, the runner rounds the bag when they now look to left field, where the other coach is either throwing the ball back in or turned around, which indicates whether the runner continues to second base or stops and heads back to first base.
This is a great way to help young ballplayers learn:
- When to look for the ball and to limit their looking for ball at specific times
- Running full speed while glancing to find ball
- How to run through bag or round it, without breaking stride
- To make correct base running decisions and to think for themselves