Running to First Base

Coaches take for granted their players know how to run to 1B.  After watching a lot of games over the years I can tell you this area is not coached very well and it’s something you can do to make an immediate improvement in your team.

You will discover that most players get thrown out by a foot or less when running out a ground ball.  Improve the speed of the player getting to first base and you get an extra hit or two.  I think you can see how this will improve your team.

There are all kinds of drills that teach players to run to first base and I know many of them are very good; however if you just use some simple coaching tips we provide that will be enough to improve your players speed.

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Improve speed and you will score more runs.

Coaching Tips:

  • Start by timing every player on the team from the right side of home plate to first base.  This will give you a baseline to document improvement.
  • Teach your players how to fire out of the box quickly by simply dropping the bat and running once the ball is hit.  You have to work on this.  Set the players up in the box and give them a go command to swing.  They assume to make contact each swing and you need to make sure they jump out quickly and drop the bat immediately.  Practice this over and over.  You can even set up timing for this by putting a cone just down the first base line about 3 feet and judge how quickly they get out.  Remember, cutting down the time just a fraction can mean you make it to first on a ground ball.
  • Teach the players how to run.  You will see kids run the baselines with a lot of side to side arm movement.  This wastes a lot of speed so work to get their arms going forward and back instead of side to side.
  • Make sure you players don’t slow down at all when running out a ground ball hit in the infield.  I see so many kids slow down just slightly before getting to first.  This really is the difference in making it or being thrown out.
  • Teach your players to hit the front part of first base when running through the bag.  I see players striding for the middle or back of the base and getting thrown out.  If they would have hit the front of the base they would have been safe.
  • Teach them to listen for the directions of the 1B coach.  Drill it by having them run to 1B and have the coach give commands to either stay at first base, make a turn or go to second.  Watch for any hesitation in the player.  Continue to drill until all players show no hesitation.  Make this part of your practice warm-up.
  • Teach them to run through the base and turn to the outside.  Drill them on handling an overthrow by having them run through 1B and when they turn out have a coach do nothing or say go to 2nd.  The player should then immediately make a turn and run to second.
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In summary, speed on the base paths will give you more scoring opportunities so work hard with your team on improving their speed.  It will be worth it.

Good luck!

Coach Luke

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