Getting started with a baserunning series starts at teaching you players how to break from home plate quickly once contact has been made with the baseball. It’s important that all players run hard from home to first every time regardless of where the ball is hit.
A well-coached team stands out when their players run out ground balls, fly outs and pop-ups at full speed.
Teach your players that slow hit ground balls and high chops can turn into a base hit when players run full speed through first base. Additionally, this will put a lot of pressure on the defense to cleanly field the ball and rush their throw adding to the possibility of a force error and giving the runner an infield hit.
Keep in mind that when players run out ground balls with runners on first base they are rarely doubled up at the youth baseball level. It’s just too difficult for the defense to turn most double plays when the runners are running full speed. This will obviously vary by age group and skill level, but it’s important point to share with your players.
Fundamentals of Running
- Players should plan to run at full speed each and every time they come to the plate. One they contact the ball teach them to explode out of the batter’s box with a couple of quick small powerful steps.
- They should keep their weight leaning forward toward first base at all times.
- Teach them to pump their arms straight forward and back to the side of their body and not side to side. The side to side action will only slow them down and is not an efficient way to run.
- They should be taught to put maximum pressure to the ground as they run. The more powerful the push off the ground the fast they will go.
- Players should run on the balls of their feet.
- Players should increase their stride as they go down the line toward first base.
- As they reach first base the players should be taught to hit the front part of the base as that’s the closest distance to ensure they are safe. Don’t have your players landing in the middle of the base as this split second could be the difference in being out or safe.
- As the player reaches first base and powers through it they should be taught to look over their right shoulder to see where the ball is and determine if there was an overthrow. This will be a key point, if you want your players taking advantage of defensive errors. Today’s youth leagues have fences that are close to first base basically giving the runner very little time to take the extra base. Looking to the right as they go through first base gives them an advantage when an errant throw has occurred. Very important for players to know the location of the ball.
- Remember good baserunning starts with players being aggressive, alert, confident and observant to what is happening at all times.
In our next post we will provide you with a drill you can use to help your players work on the skills presented here.
Good luck and remember to keep teaching good quality fundamentals and focus on player development.