Becoming The Best Baseball Player

July 27, 2009

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Running bases may be one of the simplest baseball skills to master, but a lot of times, it’s neglected among the amateur ranks.  However, to be the best you can be when it comes to baseball, you need to be able to do this right.

As with any other aspect of baseball, what develops after you’ve hit the ball tells you what to do when it comes to running.  If you’re trying to beat an infield roller, for example, you need to get to first ahead of the throw.  If the ball goes to the infield as a single, you want to make a turn at the base.  If you drive the ball over the outfielder’s head for a double, there’s one running pattern, or if it’s a triple, there’s another.  And if it’s a homerun, there’s still another pattern to be used.

Here’s what you do, starting with trying to beat a throw to first.  If you’re a right-handed batter and you hit the ball, your weight is on your front foot.  To go to first, drive off that foot, taking the first step with your right foot, too.  A left-handed batter is going to have his weight on his front foot and can usually start on that foot to first.

Whether a batter is right or left-handed, he or she is going to start running like a sprinter just taking off the starting blocks.  He sees where the ball is going, and then concentrates on running, with his weight forward and body low.  The first steps are choppy, short, feet well spread.

About a third of the way to the first base, his stride becomes longer and he straightens up.  At the halfway point, the batter is running fully upright and at full power.  When the batter gets to first base, he keeps running as though the finish line is 15 feet on the other side of the base.  The runner runs through first, stepping on the base with either foot as he passes.

Runners shouldn’t jump at the bases, though, because this wastes energy.  Sliding is not appropriate, either, unless someone is attempting a tag.  After the base is crossed, the runner goes back to it.  If you miss a move toward second, even bobbing your head toward it, the opposition can play on the runner and he may be called “out” and as off base.

Some advocate that the batter should turn to the right after he or she crosses the bag so that there’s no misunderstanding about what the batter had in mind.  This isn’t always good practice, however, because a runner will lose steps if he does have the opportunity to go to second base.  Most important, the runner should remember not to move to second base unless he’s actually going there.  The batter should want to crack out a base hit and then stretch it, and draw a throw to first base to take advantage of an error if possible.

It saves steps and gets the batter in a good position to advance if he approaches the first base and he does any other until he’s some 15 to 20 feet in front of it.  At that point, the runner makes a small move to the right so that when he hits the base, he’ll be right on target for second and not right field.

How should runners touch bases as they circle them?  There’s a lot of dispute about that, and many baseball coaches and managers say that the runner should put the inside of his foot on the inside corner of the base, turn left and then cross over with the right to continue to the next base.  However, others say that this requires breaking stride to do that.  Because of that, the best method may be to strike the bag with whatever foot is up first when the base is arrived at.

What’s most important is that if the base is missed, the runner should go back and touch it.  Touching the base is the most important thing to learn.

If you learn to be an expert at base running, you can be one of the best players on your team.


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