Friday Base Running Tips
Developing Base Running Instincts
Important points to know about coaching base running:
- Good base running instincts can be developed, even though it often seems that ballplayers either have them or they don’t
- Good hitters have an advantage, because they are on base more than below average batters, so they get a lot more practice running the bases
- Most people believe that good base runners have great speed, which may or may not be the case, as instinctual decisions are based on knowing one’s own speed
- It is difficult giving players game like base running experience in practice but the following drill helps that
As written about before, it is sad to see a baseball practice, when one player is batting and the rest of the team is standing around shagging the batted balls. A great time to improve player’s base running instincts is with the following drill.
Game Like Base Running Drill
During batting practice, a coach takes three helmeted players to a base, generally starting with first base. The coach has the batting practice pitcher work from the stretch position, but with no intention of throwing over to first base, so as not to disrupt the normal flow of batting practice. At first, coaches set up a couple of extra first bases behind the normal bag and runners work on the correct ways and distance to lead off with each batting practice pitch.
Next, players work on their secondary leads on every other pitch, especially the timing of the landing as the number of hops varies from player to player. Every other pitch gives them time to get ready again after their secondary lead. The coach should stand behind the runners to get a good picture of their actions and timing.
Next, coaches have only one player at a time lead off and the coach gives that player the number of outs. With the batting practice pitch, players respond accordingly, depending on the result of the batting practice batter’s action and the number of stated outs. The runners only run a short distance toward second before coming back to first again, as they must be aware the next pitch comes quickly. On that next pitch, the second runner has hopped in and taken his lead off to react to the next pitch and so forth. In nine pitches, each runner reacted to three scenarios, which gives them a good amount of practice.
This drill is good for hit and run practice, when base runners must learn to look to home as the ball gets to the plate, for learning when to look and how to react to the batters’ result. Of course, coaches can do the same type drill at second and third bases, with runners reacting to each batting practice result.
It is important that coaches alert inexperienced players to be alert and keep an eye on the batter at all times after running, as batting practice pitches go quickly.
As mentioned, this is a good way to give players a great number of lead off and breaking repetitions to develop better base running instincts. Coaches should demonstrate the correct lead off methods at each base, also.