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25 Tips for Baserunning

Fastpitch Softball BaserunnerBy Coach Marc

I had a question come in the other day about baserunning. A coach wanted to know if I could share some tips for running bases. I figured that you may want some tips on baserunning too. It can be so much fun when you do it well! Anyway, here are a few things I mentioned:

  1. Good baserunning is not only about being fast, being smart is just as important.
  2. Touch every base.
  3. Always know where the ball is.
  4. Tag up on all foul fly balls.
  5. When in doubt, hit the deck (slide).
  6. Know the situation and anticipate the action.
  7. Always check the defense for gaps and position/depth.
  8. Know how many outs there are!!!
  9. As a batter, run out EVERY hit no matter what. Never assume a ball is foul, a pop fly is caught, or a grounder is a sure out. Always put pressure on the defense by hauling your butt down the line.
  10. If a high pop fly is dropped, you, as a batter-runner should be well on your way to 2nd base, or better yet, standing on 2nd base, when the ball drops not scrambling to get to 1st base.
  11. When trying to beat out a throw at first, do not look at the ball. Focus on the base and on getting there as quickly as possible. Watching the fielder who it trying to get you out only slows you down.
  12. When running through first, step on the outside part of the bag (the side on the foul line).
  13. Do not slide or dive into first base (unless to avoid a tag/collision in a bad throw). It slows you down and exposes you to unnecessary injury.
  14. Hit the bases on the inside corner with your right foot whenever possible (this is the ideal situation). However, hitting the base with your left foot in stride is better than trying to stutter step so that you can hit the base with your right foot.
  15. Explode off the bag when you take your lead. Your first two steps should look the same whether you are taking a lead or stealing.
  16. When on second base, ground balls need to be to the right of the short stop (looking at the field from home plate) in order for you to advance automatically. Dont run into an out.
  17. Listen to and watch your base coaches, pick up your 3rd base coach 2/3 of the way to 2nd base.
  18. When you are on deck, it is your job to help the runner coming to the plate. Make sure the bat is out of the way. Tell them whether they need to slide or if they can stay up. Let them know which side of the plate to slide on.
  19. At the end of a play (ball going back to the pitcher) do NOT turn your back to the ball.
  20. After any pick-off attempt, check to see if the outfielder was covering.
  21. If the catcher comes out from behind the plate, start going back to the base. Don’t just sit there and let her shorten the distance.
  22. When youre on 3rd base with less than 2 outs, do NOT automatically break home on a ground ball to the left side (3rd baseman or short stop).
  23. On a routine fly ball to the outfield with less than 2 outs, stay in an athletic stance. Dont just stand on the base after the catch. Perhaps even make a move off the base so that the outfielder has to make a sharp throw in. If they rush, if they make a mistake, you get the next bag. Dont just stand there in an un-ready position and allow the outfielder to take their time and have an easy throw in.
  24. ALWAYS look for opportunities to advance. If you see one start taking it ~ your coach will tell you if they want you to stay. After all, if you think you have a chance to make it to the next base, you certainly have enough time to come back if the coach doesnt agree. If the coach has to tell you to go before you go, youre probably too late. Most times, a base coaches go should only be a confirmation of what you are already doing.
  25. Finally: baserunning starts in the dugout!
  • Before the observe your opponent in pre-game drills are they left or right handed? Are they quick? Are their throws accurate? Who has a strong arm? Who doesnt? Who sets up their throw from the outfield?
  • Watch the catcher for quickness of release, arm strength, accuracy, and footwork.
  • Watch the pitcher warming up for any weaknesses or tendancies.
  • Check out the back stop. Is it close or far? Is it just fence or is there some other type of material behind the catcher that makes the ball bounce back quickly?


Comments on 25 Tips for Baserunning »

February 24, 2010

Steve Nichols @ 2:50 pm

I disagree with #22. Smart, aggressive baserunners will read the ball on the ground – anywhere – and break for home immediately. The fielder still has to catch it and throw it accurately, and the catcher has to catch it and make a tag. I think the runner still has the odds in her favor.

D Mog @ 2:57 pm

With a sharp hit ball my 3rd baseman would take the easy out at home anyday. Unless were trading an out for a run we will get the lead runner.

awill @ 4:02 pm

With Runners on 2 and 3rd, I will always be agressive and send the home. If she is out at the plate, I still have 1st and 3rd. In the 1st and 3rd situation, we have a variety of ways to get the runner to second. If the runner is safe, we could have a big inning. This is at the high school level.

smahoe @ 4:25 pm

I’m with D Mog – a sharp hit to 3b will be in 3b hands before your baserunner even begins to break for home.

Also, why send your 3b runner into a dead out at home so that you can have runners on 1st and 3rd with 1 out, vs just letting them throw across the field to 1 for the out and you will still have your runners at 2nd and 3rd with 1 out instead of 1st and 3rd.

I do agree that 1st and 3rd can open up some additional options and put more pressure on the defense IF you have the right runners in place. But generally speaking, I’d rather keep my runners at 2nd and 3rd, make the defense go across the field to 1 for the out and see what happens from there. As D Mog and I have said, on a sharp gb to 3b, sending your runner home is almost always a dead out – especially at the high school level where players can catch and throw.

If the infield is tight enough (we had some SS playing really tight against us with a runner on 3b this weekend), even if she gets the ball, sending the runner home on a hard hit grounder to SS would have been a foolish decision 99% of the time. I’d rather her make the check on my runner, and have to throw across the diamond to 1st while my batter-runner is hauling her butt down the line making it as tough a play as possible.

Of course, if you’re on 3rd you read the hit and go if you can. It’s just NOT an AUTOMATIC go on just any hit, especially on a sharp ball to 3b or P.

February 25, 2010

stevem137 @ 12:23 am

I agree with smahoe that runners at 3rd needs to read of the hit and it is not automatic to go on any hit unless there are two outs. It also depends on the speed of the runner you have at 3rd to consider sending them and the strength or weakness of the opposing team. In this case, I would prefer my runner at 3rd attempt to distract the fielder to make an errand or late throw to 1st. Worst case the runner is out at first, mild case is bases are loaded and best case would be an errand throw allows the runner at 3rd to score and all other runners advance another base (2nd & 3rd). I call this playing patiently aggressive. It allows for a coach or player to pick optimal situations and in some cases taking a risk in others.

Gina Milana @ 11:09 am

You are all forgetting that the runner on 3d still has a chance to score once the ball is released from 3rd to 1st! The key there is that it MUST LEAVE the fielder’s hand before breaking for home – I teach my 3rd baseman to fake throw to draw the girl on 3rd to break while she still has the ball!

Stevem137 @ 3:10 pm

I agree with Gina and a knowledgeable coach or players will pick optimal situations and taking risks in others. Depending on the speed of my runner at 3rd, the situation might call for them to break to home on the release of the ball. Teaching 3rd base defense person to fake throws is good as well as teaching your runners to wait till they see the release of the ball heading towards 1st before they break for home. If 3rd base defense fakes the throw and 3rd base runner holds or fake attempts to home, it is advantage to the runner heading to 1st. Defensively, I also teach 3rd to throw the ball to the pitcher in anticipation of the runner at 3rd heading to home. This has created a pickle situation with getting the lead runner out and holding runners at 1st and 2nd. Many different options that hopefully are the right decisions.

March 3, 2010

Tarah @ 8:55 pm

I love #22. I always tell my runners on third to watch a ball hit to the pitcher or 3rd baseman and make sure they make the throw. The reason for this is that we have a play when they actually make a fake throw to first. From there the girl with the ball will either tag the runner at third, throw home, or run her down.

May 31, 2010

Mandi @ 8:56 pm

The runner on 3rd is a distraction up until the point the ball is released from the 3rd baseman’s hands… I tell my girls, “Help her get there!” Once the ball is thrown, yes, go home. Honestly, if you think about it, she distract the 3rd baseman long enough, buys some time, breaks on the throw to first… now she’s a distraction to the 1st baseman who has pressure on now. If 1B doesn’t have HER head in the game, she may not know how many outs-or get caught up and 4get-and come off the bag to make the play at home… too many scenarios to play out to provide the SURE out by sending a runner prematurely.

February 28, 2011

SHS @ 10:09 pm

If you have a lot of speed, such as a slap hitter, sometimes its GOOD to antagonize the catcher.

July 14, 2011

Softballzavala00 @ 11:00 pm

if your a runner on 3rd base and theirs a bunt on either the 1st or 3rd baseline when do you presume to go score

[…] Work on the techniques and body movements according to each base. Softball coaching requires to each all skills necessary down to base […]

[…] Work on the techniques and body movements according to each base. Softball coaching requires to each all skills necessary down to base […]

May 7, 2013

Max Williams @ 3:55 am

I've been wondering about this scenario for a while: I'm batting and runners are on 1st and 2nd base.. I hit a fly ball. The runners have to wait for it to see if it's going to get caught, before they run. I'm a fast runner, and i don't *assume *it's going to get caught, so I run. What happens when i get to 1st base, and the runner is still there? I can't overtake them, so do i need to stand behind them and wait to see if the ball is caught? Since if we are both to run on, they need to be one base ahead of me when we stop at a base (unless we both get home), so it feels like my best option is always just to stay at first.

July 13, 2015

charles shorty long @ 6:18 pm

These suggestions are excellent for any coach to use as a reminfer

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