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Coaching Softball - Base Running Fundamentals

Mental Aspects

Know and understand current game situations AT ALL TIMES: outs, score, inning, hitter tendencies/capabilities, pitcher, etc.

Know your physical capability thoroughlyBase running in softball is one of the most important aspects of the game

  1. Quickness (# of strides from home to 1B, 1B to 2B, etc.)
  2. Speed [ time (sec.) from home to 1B, 1B to 2B, etc.]

Assess the condition on the base paths during pre-game warm-up - fast track vs. slow (sandy or wet) track.

Evaluate the condition on the field in the context of weather conditions: Wind direction, velocity--if  you are on 1B, will the wind be “in your face” (increased resistance from the wind will slow you down) or at your back (be in your favor)?

Study the opposing pitcher during warm-ups/Learn her motion--visualize when, during her motion, you would begin to drive off the base to start your lead-off.

During pre-game warm-ups and between inning warm-ups study the throwing skill of the catcher: quickness of release, throwing mechanics, strength of her throws, how she picks up balls that are dropped (with glove or bare hand), attitude, etc.

During the game:

a) Re-evaluate your assessment of the field conditions based on the results of other base runners during the game.

b) Look for weaknesses and tendencies--catcher having problems with pitcher; catcher picks up ball off the ground with her glove; lobs ball back to pitcher every time (may be ripe for delayed steal), etc.

c) Observe how defense reacts to base runners; where are the weak arms; where are the strong arms; where are the erratic arms?

d) Observe defense’s reaction to pressure--do they get confused, error-prone?

e) ALWAYS be alert to where the 1st baseman and 2nd baseman are positioned before the pitcher starts her motion--a change in the position or either player ( i.e. closer to 1b) is a WARNING of a possible pick-off play; adjust your lead accordingly

f) Be alert to opportunities; don’t hesitate once you commit to a base.

g) NEVER RUN INTO A TAG--if you are running into a sure out, STOP and force a rundown

h) If you get into a rundown, try to make contact with a fielder who is in the baseline before you are tagged.

I) Try to learn more about situational softball; ask questions of the coaches and listen with the goal “To understand”

Base Running Basic (Base Running skill expected from ALL players).

  • Heels NEVER touch the ground when you run. ALWAYS run on the balls of your feet.

  • Stay LOOSE (arms, hands body relaxed) when you run---don’t tighten up

  • ALWAYS pump your arms, cheek to cheek, when you run the bases

  • Continue to pump your arms as you tag and run-through or round a base

  • NEVER LEAP or overextend your stride to tag a base.

  • If you round a base and stop, get LOW -- knees bent with arms and hands low to lower your center of gravity as you stop-- these mechanics will enable you to stop quicker, remain balanced, and avoid injury

  • Run with your shoulders and weight forward over the balls of your feet.

  • Run with your head and eyes forward--find the ball after reaching the base

  • Run using a consistent stride-length that is maximal for you and allows you to remain balanced while running.

  • Run essentially in a STRAIGHT LINE to the base.

  • Maintain eye contact with the base you are trying to reach; always look down as you approach the base to make ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that you  tag it.

  • If you miss a base, STOP and go back

  • When running to 1st base, tag the FRONT of the base; pop your head down as you cross base.


  • When running the bases between 1B and home, ALWAYS glance at the 3rd base coach for a sign about halfway to the next base and again after you reach the base. NEVER continue past a base, if you don’t know where the ball is.

  • When running the bases between 1B and home, tag the inside corner of the base and AVOID wide turns around the bases that cause you to veer way outside the baseline.

  • Be careful when rounding a base that you know the opposing team’s tendencies. Many of the better teams will throw behind a runner to catch her rounding the base too far.

  • NEVER round 2B on a sacrifice bunt

  • When stealing a base or running on a sacrifice bunt, ALWAYS go toward the base with the intent to slide. The ONLY time you will go into the base standing up is when the 3B coach tells you to.

  • Whenever possible, slide into the base on the side (infield or outfield side of the base) away from the player making the throw [ e.g., if the throw is coming from the left fielder, slide to the right field side of the 2B or the infield side (side closest to home) of 3B]

  • Drive off the base aggressively on the release of every pitch, not just when you are stealing -- drive off of the base (3-4 strides) aggressively using the same mechanics, regardless of whether you are leading-off or stealing.

  • ALWAYS RETURN TO THE BASE AS AGGRESSIVELY AS YOU LEFT IT.            As soon as the catcher has the ball, RETURN TO THE BASE. NEVER “hang out” in the base paths!

  • ALWAYS RUN OUT EVERY HIT BALL AGGRESSIVELY! As soon as contact is made, you are to explode down the baseline RUNNING AS HARD AS YOU CAN, until you are waved off by the 1B coach. NEVER PLAY UMPIRE and NEVER STAND IN THE BATTERS BOX ASSUMING THE BALL WILL GO FOUL. There are few base running blunders as infuriating to a coach as a player who doesn’t run after hitting a pitch and who jogs down the baseline acting as if she is an automatic out--

Added Pointers for Base Runners

  • Always be ready to take an extra base when throws are off-line, thrown high over the cut-off, and when there is no cut-off.

    Anticipate the pursuit angle of the fielder pursuing a ball and avoid contact/collisions. If you run into a fielder before the ball goes by her, you are automatically OUT. This is a dead ball situation and the other runners cannot advance.

  • It is against the rules to run more than 3 feet outside a direct line between bases to avoid being tagged, unless you are trying to avoid interfering with a fielder who is making a play. You cannot interfere intentionally with a thrown ball or obstruct or collide with a fielder who is making a play on a batted ball.

  • TAG-UP -- is a term that means that you return to the base you last touched, you WAIT with 1 foot on the base in a crouch position, you maintain eye contact with the fielder making the play until the fly ball or pop-up is touched by the fielder and then explode off the base the same way you lead off. You advance ONLY ON THE COMMAND of the 3B coach.



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