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WILTON LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL

Positional Clinics – Baserunning

 

  • The Batter/Baserunner
    • Once the ball is put in play, the batter/baserunner should leave the batter’s box as quickly as possible, using shorter steps to accelerate before extending his stride
      • IMPORTANT:  Continue to run unless you hear the umpire say “foul ball”
    • Focus should immediately be on the first base coach; however...
      • If the ball is put in play on right side of the field, then the batter/baserunner should try to use his own judgment as to whether to run through the first base bag or round first base
      • Consider advantage of taking a quick peak after two or three steps to see if the ball has left the infield
    • If the first base coach is signaling to run through the first base bag, then the batter/baserunner should not slow down until he has passed the bag
      • Try to make contact with the first base bag on the front edge of the bag—NOT on top of the bag—and lean forward when making contact with the bag
        • If the field has an orange/green “safety” bag at first base, then the batter/baserunner should make contact with the “safety” bag rather than the white bag
      • Once the batter/baserunner crosses the bag, he should locate the ball (in the event that a defensive error occurred on the play) and use short “choppy” steps to slow his momentum
      • The batter/baserunner should not make an aggressive move in the direction of second base unless he intends to continue to second base
        • Once the batter/baserunner makes an aggressive move towards second base, he can be tagged out
      • The batter/baserunner should never slide into first base in an attempt to beat out a throw to the first baseman

 

DRILL #1:  Simulated swing, generating momentum out of the batter’s box, and running through the first base bag, focusing on quickly slowing momentum after hitting the first base bag and locating the ball

 

  • If the first base coach is signaling to round first base or to “take the turn”:
    • Use a “banana”-shaped path to the first base bag, and target hitting the inside corner of the first base bag
      • Do not wait too long before shifting momentum towards the first base dugout
    • Preference is to hit the inside corner of the first base bag with the left foot, leaning into the turn and squaring the shoulders toward second base
      • IMPORTANT:  Breaking your stride slows you down, so if your stride results in your using your right foot to touch the first base bag, then so be it
    • If the batter/baserunner has rounded first base and does not initially intend to advance to second base, he should square his shoulders generally to the location of the ball (so that he has the ball in his line of sight in the event that the outfielder misplays the ball or attempts to throw behind the batter/baserunner)

 

DRILL #2:  Simulated swing and taking a “banana”-shaped path to first base, focusing on cutting the corner of the base and picking up the ball

 

  • Approaching Second Base, Third Base and Home Plate
    • General rule:  shortest path between two points is a straight line
      • Exception applies when there is a possibility of taking more than one base
    • Approaching second base
      • Picking up the third base coach
        • As a rule of thumb, pick up the third base coach when you are half-way between the first base bag and the second base bag
        • Encourage the baserunner to use his own judgment when the ball is put in play in front of him (i.e., on the left side or center of the field) and to rely on the third base coach when the ball is put in play behind him
      • No apparent opportunity to advance to third base:  use a short “choppy” step to slow momentum before reaching the second base bag or, if there is a strong possibility of a play at the bag, slide into the bag (try to slide into the corner of the bag that is furthest from the ball)
        • In this situation, do not overrun the second base bag, especially if the ball is in center field or on the right side of the field
        • When sliding into the bag, the baserunner must maintain contact with the bag at all times (or call “time out” and wait for the umpire to grant it)
        • After sliding, the baserunner should quickly get to his feet and locate the ball (in the event that there was a defensive error that would allow him to advance to third base)
        • If the ball is in front of the baserunner (i.e., in left field) and there is no threat of a play being made at second base, then the baserunner may consider rounding second base and squaring his shoulders to the ball (in the event that there is a defensive error or a throw to home plate)
      • If the baserunner intends to go to third base, then he should take a “banana”-shaped path to the second base bag and “cut” the inside corner of the bag (in the same way as he would when rounding first base)
        • Once the baserunner rounds second base, he needs to make sure that the third base coach has not given the “put on the brakes” sign

 

DRILL #3:  Continuation play from home plate to second base, working on picking up the third base coach, stopping momentum, sliding and rounding the base (including “put on the brakes” sign)

 

  • Approaching third base (discussion only)
    • Pick up the third base coach quickly and follow his signs
      • “Hold” sign (arms up in the air) – approach the bag with a short “choppy” step to slow momentum and do not overrun the bag
      • “Slide” sign (arms up in the air, and then down) – try sliding to the side of the base that is furthest from the third baseman’s position
      • “Wave him in” sign (windmilling arm) – take a “banana”-shaped path to the third base bag and “cut” the inside corner of the bag (in the same way as he would when rounding first base)
        • If the third base coach is in the appropriate position, then he may give the “put on the brakes” sign after the baserunner rounds third base’
  • Approaching home plate (discussion only)
    • Take the most direct path to home plate as possible
    • DO NOT look for the ball – you can make a determination as to whether there will be a play at the plate by watching the catcher and/or the on-deck batter
    • If there will be a play at the plate, then slide to the back end of home plate to avoid contact with the catcher (and the tag)

 

  • Leading Off, Stealing and Passed Balls
    • Leading off
      • Always look to the third base coach before every pitch to get the sign
      • Correct form
        • Left foot on the front edge of the bag or on the outside of the bag
        • “Rocker” motion to create momentum into first step
        • Eyes focused on the ball
      • Baserunner to lead as soon as the pitcher releases the ball (at Majors) or the ball crosses home plate (at lower levels)
        • Explosive steps into a position that is two or three strides off of first base
      • Square shoulders to home plate as quickly as possible, and keep eye on the ball (in the event that the catcher throws to behind the baserunner)
        • If the catcher does throw behind the baserunner, then the baserunner may need to dive back to the bag – turn hips towards the bag, cross over with your right leg and (if diving back to first base, in particular) reach for the back corner of the base with your right arm, with your head facing towards the outfield
      • NEVER take your eye off the ball when you are not on the base
      • Discuss the delayed steal – timing play on throws from the catcher to the pitcher
    • Stealing
      • Golden Rule:  If the third base coach has given you the steal sign, then you steal
      • Same set-up and initial explosive steps as when leading off, using shorter steps to accelerate, followed by longer strides
      • Focus should be on the second base bag when running (rather than watching the ball), except...
        • If you hear contact, then you need to locate the ball quickly while you are in stride to avoid (1) getting hit by the ball or (2) getting doubled off on a line drive
      • Slide into second base (or third base) with your head facing the outfield (in the event that the catcher’s throw goes into the outfield and you have an opportunity to take another base)
      • Remember:  distance between home plate and the second base bag (almost 85’) is greater than the distance between home plate and the third base bag (60’)

 

DRILL #4:  Leading and stolen base repetitions between first base and second base, practicing diving back to first base on snap throws from the catcher and quickly getting to your feet after sliding into second base

 

  • Force Plays, Non-Force Plays and the “Burke Play” (discussion only)
    • Force play
      • If there is a runner on the base behind you, then you need to run if the ball is put in play on the ground or reaches the ground (if the ball is hit in the air, then see the “tagging up” rules below)
    • Non-force plays
      • If there is not a runner on the base behind you, then you do not need to run regardless of where the ball is put in play
      • Runner on second base
        • Ball hit to the right side or up the middle (except to the pitcher or catcher) – take third base
        • Ball hit to the left side or to the pitcher or catcher – take a safe lead, and make a decision to take third base on the throw to first base
      • Runner on third base (rules of thumb)
        • Ball hit to third baseman – return to third base
        • Ball hit to shortstop or second baseman – take home plate unless the middle infielders are drawn in
        • Ball hit to pitcher or catcher – maintain a safe lead and make a decision to take home plate on the throw to first base
        • Ball hit to first baseman – take a safe lead, but typically will return to the third base bag
    • Ball hit towards the runner
      • Situation:  Baserunner is in a force play situation and the ball is hit on the ground in his direction
        • Slow roller or ball hit behind the baserunner – advance to the next base as usual
        • Hard ground ball hit in front of the baserunner – start advancing towards the next base, but let the ball cross in front of you (don’t try to jump over it or get passed it)
      • If the ground ball hits the baserunner, the baserunner is out

 

  • Tagging Up and Infield Fly
    • Tagging up
      • Only relevant if there are fewer than two outs (otherwise, you run on contact)
      • If you do tag up, return to the base and set up as if you were about to lead off or steal a base, and leave for the next base immediately after the outfielder catches the ball
      • Baserunner on first base
        • Unlikely that you will tag up, unless (1) the left fielder is making a running catch moving towards the left field line, (2) the right fielder is making a running catch moving towards the right field line or (3) there is a baserunner on second base or third base that tags up and the outfielder is throwing ahead of that runner
        • Rule of thumb:  take a lead off of first base while the ball is in the air, with the lead lengthening if the ball is hit to center field or left field
        • Follow instructions from the first base coach
      • Baserunner on second base (rules of thumb)
        • Ball hit to left field – short lead, with shoulders squared to the left fielder
        • Ball hit to center field or right field – return to the second base bag and prepare to tag up (eyes focused on the third base bag), taking instruction from the third base coach
      • Baserunner on third base
        • If ball is hit in the air, return to the third base bag and prepare to tag up (eyes focused on home plate), taking instruction from the third base coach
      • If the baserunner on first base or second base would be forced to the next base if the fly ball is not caught, then consider foregoing the tag up and put yourself in a position to advance to the next base if the ball is dropped, or return to your base if the ball is caught
    • Infield fly
      • Situation:  Fewer than two outs, runners on first and second, or on first, second and third, and the ball it popped up in the infield
        • Batter is automatically out, regardless of whether the ball is caught or dropped
        • Runners on base are not forced to go to the next base, even if the ball is dropped
        • If the ball is caught, then the runners on base would need to tag up before advancing to the next base
      • Rule of thumb:  Baserunner should stay close to the base that he was on when the ball was put in play
        • If the ball is caught, then return to that base
        • If the ball is dropped, then you will likely return to that base unless the base coach tells you to advance

 

DRILL #5:  Practice tagging up and advancing to the next base from various bases, with a coach throwing the ball to LF, CF and RF