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Softball Coaching Tips - Tagging Up

By Judi Garman
Former Head Coach - Italian Olympic Softball Team and Cal State Fullerton

With less than two out and a ball is hit in the air and caught, runners who leave the base must return and tag before they can legally advance. Runners who remain on the base, or who have tagged, may leave again as soon as the ball is touched.

Running hard towards home plate1) When possible, watch the ball and the catch. Place your feet on the base for a good leadoff, and then turn your head to follow the ball. This eliminates any miscommunication between you and the coach. You can also react quicker if you wait to hear the coach’s words.

2) When do you tag?

  1. On all foul balls. You can only advance on a caught foul ball so tag and be in a position where you have an option to go. If you can’t tell if it is fair or foul assume it is fair.
  2. At third base tag immediately on deep fly balls as soon as the ball is hit in the air. If the ball is dropped or fumbled you can still score.
  3. At first or second base, tag only if fly balls are deep enough that you can advance on the catch and the resulting throw.

Tip: If the ball is very deep, and it is obvious that you will advance easily, delay your take off a little so there is no chance of being called out for leaving early. Coaches: You might use the words, “slow and fast” to advise the runner how quickly to leave the base.

3) DO NOT TAG on shallow fly balls if there is no hope of advancing if the ball is caught. THIS INCLUDES THIRD BASE. From a normal leadoff position, should the ball drop, there is a better chance of advancing to the next base since the distance is not as great as if you tagged. Lead off as far as you can and still return safely if the ball is caught.

4) On every base, except third, anticipate which balls will fall in for a hit. Your goal is to score. Be aggressive and go for extra bases. If it appears that the ball will not be caught, keep as far away from the base as possible. Go hard to the next base. Do not tag up. If a spectacular catch is made, scramble back.

5) With multiple runners, back runners should look to tag and advance on a play made on the lead runner.

Smart base runners advance or even score on outs. Be smart when you tag up. Take advantage of the play. Smart base running, wins games!

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