A Guide to Base Running Drills
Any player wishing to excel in baseball needs to know how to capitalize on any defensive error their opponents may make. A key ingredient to any team making winning a game can be credited to their ability to possess base running skills and avoid making suicidal mistakes in their attempt to score a run.
To better learn how to perform offensively, one is required to take a serious interest in practice that can help him identify a loophole in the opponent’s defense and capitalize to help his team score more runs. This can be achieved by doing several base-running drills.
Base Running Drills
- Ground Ball-Reeds
In this drill, a player is encouraged to make a steal of an extra base provided there’s a defensive weakness. Prior to stealing, the runner ought to keep a keen eye on the ball and avoid being put out as a result of ignorance. The drill aims to reduce the chances of player being put out as a result of force play.
To execute this, the coach can place a player on 1B toss a ball and someone hits it to outfield. The runner watches out for any defensive lapse and prepares to take advantage and try to steal.
- Inside a Park base running drill
This drill seeks to teach runners how to uniformly run past all the bases. The runners practice to make uniform strides while running through all the three bases and making a good slide at the home plate.
The drill seeks to promote overall aggressiveness of the runner, developing good running mechanics, efficient running, good base touching mechanics, and lastly good turning on bases when proceeding.
In this drill, under the instruction of the coach, a runner moves at full speed from home to first to second to third and back to home ensuring that he touched the plates properly.
- Tennis Ball-drop
This is a technique that aims to equip the runner with the necessary stealing skills by timing their stealing action against the pitcher’s ball release. The runner tends to take advantage of the time the ball moves from the pitching plate to the catcher at home and then, maybe catcher to second base.
If the runner does good timing, he’ll get to the next base in time before the next pitch is made. In situations where the pitcher is absent, the runner can time themselves against the sound of a dropping tennis ball dropped by the “pitcher” on the ground.
- Relay Race
This is a drill that seeks to help runners work on their ability to make turns when running on bases. To execute this drill the coach needs to have at least two bases, thus, the starting point and the target base. The drill helps players avoid drifting from bases when stealing bases. The drill can be carried out using a light ball such as that of tennis.
To start the drill, the coach needs to have at least one team where the lead runner has the ball and passes it to the next player on the line immediately he turns round the final base.
- Return drill
This drill seeks to promote lead confidence, teach good diving technique, help individual runners their appropriate lead length. When practicing this drill, we need at least three people; the coach, runner and the coach’s partner.
The coach will stand at 3rd base holding the ball while his partner will be positioned at first base waiting for the ball. The runner at 1st base will be required to take a lead off the base then watch the coach. When the coach throws the ball to first base, the runner should dive for the base, or find the base using his feet
- Dirtball Reads
This is a drill that seeks to prepare the runner psychologically steal given the smallest opportunity during pitch delivery. The runner is encouraged to anticipate the results of the pitch in order to take full advantage of the situation.
In cases where the catcher fails to control the ball, the runners should see this extra opportunity to steal an extra base. The advantage of this drill is that, it shields the offending players from becoming force out. It also seeks to eliminate situations where one runner has to be sacrificed. To achieve the best results, runners must also take count of the pitches.
- Home-first base running drill
This is a drill that seeks to empower batter-runners. It seeks to make them secure first base after batting. The main point in this drill is to perfect in transitioning from batting to running.
At the end of the drill, the runner need to know the direction he should run immediately after the last swing, how to properly step on the base.
Base touching (securing) mechanics are important when doing this drill. The batter needs to demonstrate their explosive ability while leaving the batting box for first base. One last thing about this drill is that the runner should learn to run on a straight line to when leaving home.
- Resistances steal-breaks
This is a drill that seeks to increase the runner’s picking speed while stealing. The drill requires that the runner makes a lead off the base and pauses while allowing more weight on the lead foot, to watch the ball situation.
Then the trainer/coach exerts more weight on the lead shoulder till the runner loses balance. Once this happens, then the trainer needs to withdraw the additional weight while pushing the runner forward. This will help the runner feel more light and then run with great speed. If this drill is practiced for some time, the runners’ speed will improve.
Base Running Drills - Easy and Fun!
Base running forms the foundation of making runs. Good base running drills equip the runners with the required running skill to enable them find it easy to make runs at the expense of their opponents. Coaches should ensure that they train their players to take advantage of any loophole in the defending team’s fielding, to earn them an extra base.