The Ole Ball Game

Like Gravy At Thanksgiving, Base Running Is Often Seen As A Component That Mystically Appears For Players!

base running excitement

Base running is one of the least taught and practiced of all the offensive essential baseball skills, yet is still one of the most important, even in the age of the aluminum bat.

What gravy is to Thanksgiving, the running game is to baseball. That special something that makes all the component parts blend together for a truly enjoyable experience. Not much is thought about it, gravy just appears on the table. We all love it; but how it got there is a mystery to most of us. We're just happy it did.

With so much to work on and players to work with, skills on the base paths often get relegated to that mystery appearance status. If a player can run fast, he is seen as proficient, thus needing little work. If a player is slow, he is thought of as a poor runner, so the effort gets placed in other areas. Fast or slow, all players need to be skilled on the bases for their teams to be successful.

If your offensive philosophy is to make your opponents defend the entire field, from a foot in front of home plate to the outfield fences and all that lies between, time needs to be allotted for learning all the skills needed while on base.

Players often believe they cannot be good runners unless they are fast. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are numerous fast players who are not skilled on the bases and average to slow players that are excellent. Becoming proficient means acquiring the skills to take advantage of anything the defense will give you, at any time.

Base Running Can Make A Difference ~ Look For The Little Things!

When I was in high school we had a left- handed pitcher who had a tremendous move. He would consistently pick us off in drills and inter-squads, until we finally figured it out. He would only throw over if he raised his eyebrows. No eyebrows, no pick. We started getting good jumps. We are all creatures of habit, be it good or bad.

It always seems easier to play and coach against teams that play station to station, that is, always playing for the big inning or a grouping of hits to score. Teams that will utilize the entire field to generate their offense, reacting to what the defense gives them, are much more difficult to deal with.

Look to exploit what is currently available and keep constant pressure on all defensive players, forcing them to think and react on the move.

Pitchers love to focus on the next pitch and its subsequent location. When concerned about what is happening around them, the potential for a mistake is present.

Along with teaching the skills and providing the drills, players need to know you want them to be aggressive and that you are ok if they get thrown out now and then.

Provided with the fundamentals, the opportunity to practice them and a knowledge of what the various game situations call for, players love the disruptions and opportunities that are created.

Base Running Tips ~ From the Dugout

base running tips ~ from the dugout

Valuable information can be obtained from the dugout prior to the start of the game, or your first at bat.

Use your opponent's pre-game infield to establish which outfielders have strong, accurate arms and which you can take that extra base on. How well does the catcher throw?

From the start of the game use your dugout time to study the pitchers tendencies. They all have them and no two are alike.

Before you get on, know if the pitcher takes a set number of looks, or does he mix them up. From the stretch, what is his first body movement before he delivers to the plate? It is that movement you will be stealing on.

An Example From 2006, Of How Disruptive, Aggressive Skills On The Base Paths Can Be

Stealing home, 1951 World Series.  All set up by the batters position in the box

It was early in the season and we had been struggling to get hits and score runs. Trailing in our final non-conference game 4-1 in the top of the sixth, the opposing lefty was truly dialed in.

Two were out when he made a rare mistake and walked our catcher, and the opportunity was presented. Stealing second put him in scoring position, which would still leave us two runs down. We took a chance and he stole third, while the lefty focused on getting that third out standing at the plate.

With a 1-1 count on the batter, the take sign was given and the steal for the runner at third. The lefty came set, took a casual glance at third and as his foot came up, our runner broke for the plate, amidst the screams of his third baseman and their dugout. He panicked and air mailed the ball to the screen, run scored.

This sequence itself was fun to watch unfold; but that single play had a much greater impact on our team. The lefty totally lost his composure and we won that game 5-4.

While the outcome was nice, the true value unfolded week by week of the conference season, as we ultimately became conference co-champions, winning some games in similar come from behind scenarios, although none as dramatic as that three stolen base situation.

~ One Play Sequence Generated A Positive Energy throughout The Entire Team ~

A Bat Never Hit A Ball ~ Yet We Scored A Run!

Players went from wondering what was wrong to believing they could play with anybody, and they did.

Baseball is a funny game and the individual mind is a strong and powerful tool, with the ability to accomplish phenominal things, once you believe.

Additional Topics On This Fun, Yet Overlooked Part Of The Game

Home To First

A full out sprint towards first base; REMEMBER, HUSTLE NEVER HAS A BAD DAY.

First To Second

Look immediately to the person giving the signs

First To Third

The runner needs to think "Coach ~ Base ~ Coach", for his reads.

Second To Third

The base runners first and foremost responsibility is to keep track of the baseball

Third To Home

For the base runner, this is the exception in leadoffs, as you lead off in foul territory

Stealing Second

As you step out into your lead, all these feelings intensify as you lock in on that one movement the pitcher is about to make, a movement that will send you speeding towards second base

Stealing Third

It is often easier to steal third base, than second

Delayed Steal

Here you are using the element of surprise, a great equalizer

Special Plays

Plays designed to amp up your running game, catching your opponent off guard while creating pressure on the defense

25 Ways To Score

These 25 ways to score from third base are one reason teams work so hard at getting a runner to third base

return from baserunning to

baseball's basic tools

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