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Oswego Baseball & Softball Association

Baserunning Drills

AGRESSIVE DRILL

Here's an outstanding base running drill that my assistant coach brought to me.

 

Runners start at home plate. Swing and round first properly taking a wide, aggressive, turn and dive back into the bag. Runner gets up quickly, takes an aggressive lead, takes off to steal 2nd sliding into the bag. Runner then gets up takes an aggressive secondary lead and dives back into the bag. He then steals third repeating the slide, getting up and taking an aggressive lead off third, in foul ground, dives back into the bag, coming back on the foul line. He gets up and sprints home (no slide at plate). The next runner takes off from home when the previous runner completes his dive into first and touches the bag.

 

The focus of this drill is to make our runners very aggressive and not be afraid to get dirty!!! It also gets players practice in sliding and diving properly, which will hopefully keep us from injuries and out of court. It also tends to develop players who want to work hard and get dirty.

 

BASERUNNING SITUATIONS DRILL

I've been ending practices with this drill for many years. It works with either baseball or softball.

 

Split the team in half and form two lines at home plate, one staggered ahead and inside the other. The coach stands at the pitcher's circle with two bats. When he (she) hits the bats together, the lead runners in both lines take off. One runs straight through first base as if she is beating out a groundball, the other makes a turn and continues into second. You now have runners at first and second and two lines of runners still at home. At the next crack of the bat, the drill continues in the same manner but the runner on second now rounds third and scores while the runner on first takes third. Now every base should be occupied. It continues again, with the runner on third tagging up and scoring. Two runners will now score each time the bats are hit together. They will then return to the end of the opposite line and the bases will always remain loaded.

 

The coach can gauge when the team has had enough and end the drill when the last player on line crosses home.

 

The drill allows for every base running situation, allows the coach to check running mechanics and proper turns and helps build stamina with short bursts. It's much more helpful than having the players continually circle the bases. You will find that the runner scoring from second will often chase the runner tagging from third home, making for a good game-type situation.

 

BETWEEN HOME AND FIRST DRILL

Players line up at home plate. One at a time swing a bat and drop it softly as if a hit. They then become a runner and runner to first base watching the coach.

 

If signaled to second they round the turn and go to second. The coach may stop them and have them slide back into first, send them to slide into second, or have them overrun. The coach should alternate his calls to keep the players guessing and watching.

 

I have used this drill for many years to get my players safe on first base, and find it to be a great tool to teach:

1) running through the base.

2) rounding a base.

3) tagging the base with the left foot on the left corner of the bag, and

4) watching and listening to the base coach.

 

BURMA'S DRILL

Divide the players equally among the four bases. One at a time from each base will be running, with the others waiting their turn. At 'go' from the coach, the four take off. Proper technique is a must and the goal would be to do a certain amount right in a row before going on to something else.

 

Player at the plate: Simulates a swing. Takes off as if hitting a double and possibly a triple. Makes a good turn at first. Picks up the 3rd base coach half way to 2nd. Rounds 2nd hard, 'picks up the ball' and returns to 2nd quickly. Player at first: From a lead, goes from 1st to 3rd. Picks up the 3rd base coach half way to 3rd. Makes a hard turn at 3rd then returns quickly. Player at 2nd: From a lead, goes from 2nd to home. Picks up the 3rd base coach and makes a good turn. Runs hard through the plate. Player at 3rd: From a lead, goes back to the bag to tag. Takes off for home, rounds it, then takes off for 1st as if beating out a single. Looks inside towards the 1st base dugout as he crosses the bag for possible overthrow.

 

DIRT BALL DRILL

A big part of our base running program is "reading ball in the dirt."

 

This drill helps the players learn how to read the trajectory of a pitched ball that will bounce in the dirt. Players are set up at all three bases. They are independent of each other because different bases have different rules for a ball in the dirt. A coach pitches from the rubber and mixes in strikes and balls in the dirt to the catcher.  Any time the ball is about to bounce the whole team must yell "DIRT." This helps you make sure everyone is paying attention. Base runners on first should automatically go when they know the ball is going to bounce. If they leave after the ball has bounced, they left too late. Runners on second need to react to the ball in the dirt and then decide if they would be safe. We tell them to read and decide. If the ball kicks away from the catcher they should've gone. If the catcher blocks the ball in front of him the base runners should stay. The runner on third base is similar to the one on second. He takes his lead, gets a good crow hop as the ball nears the plate and reacts to the ball in the dirt. Again, he reads and decides.

 

Coaches should emphasize that each base is independent of each other. Just 'cause the runner from first goes to second doesn't mean the runner on second has to go. Coaches should also emphasize good secondary lead technique. It also helps if you have at least 2 catchers. You don't want one catcher getting tired and picking up bad or lazy habits.

 

HOME AND FIRST X2 DRILL

This is a basic base running drill.

 

Line up half the team behind home plate and half behind second base. Have a coach at first and a coach at third. Players run for first or third on a start signal from the coach and must either stop or go on based on coach's signal.

 

Variation 1: treat third base same as first. This allows the home to first drill to go twice as fast. If done in reps with players jogging to back of line after run can be used as a type of wind sprint.

 

Variation 2: Use bases as actual bases so runner at second will either slide into third, go in standing up or make turn for home, while runner going to first either runs through or makes turn to second.

 

LEAD-OFF DRILL

One problem we have in youth baseball is getting the base runner to come off of the base aggressively as soon as the pitch crosses the plate. In our league you can't come off the bag until the ball is either put into play or caught by the catcher.

 

To correct this we run an exercise requiring a pitcher, a catcher and a first baseman and one base runner with batting helmet (at first base). The remaining players line up in foul territory to take their turn running. To begin the pitcher pitches to the catcher and the catcher makes a throw to first base to try to catch the base runner coming off of the bag to go to second base.

 

The object is for the base runner to get as far as possible toward second base (but not to go to second) and then try to get safely back to first before the throw. We mark a line in the dirt at the farthest distance that each player gets to - only if they get back to first safely. That tells the player how far they can get off the bag and still get back during a regular game. We have a competition to see who can get the farthest. We never lose a chance to make any drill into a game or competition. In order to get any distance at all they have to dive headfirst back to first base (which is considered both safe and legal in our league).

 

Our aim is to get the players to come off the bags far enough to take advantage of any dropped balls by the catcher or to get the catcher to make an attempt at a throw-out (which results in an error about 50% of the time). It is also a good workout for the pitcher, catcher and first baseman.

 

Final coaching consideration

It's important that when you finish the competition to go back over each player's mark with that player and have them stride off the distance. This will let them have an idea how far to come off the bag.

 

LEADS AND BREAKS DRILL

If you coach at a division in which players lead off, this drill can be helpful.

 

Align all players on the first base foul line, in the outfield. The line becomes the base. A coach acts as the pitcher, somewhere near the infield dirt, near where the second baseman would play. All players should have a good view. The coach should alternate between rightie, leftie, stretch, windup, stepping off the rubber, and picks. Players are given a scenario before every pitch (on first base straight steal, on first base hit and run, on second base two out lead, delay steal, etc.). Players assume the correct position, take a proper lead, and react according to the play called and the movement of the pitcher. Other coaches should be positioned to watch players and make corrections.

 

Spend 5-10 minutes of every practice on this. We also spent at least 5 minutes before every game on this drill.

 

RELAY RACES DRILL

Instead of the traditional "run the bases before we end practice" routine, we let our kids do the following:

 

RELAY RACES

Split the team in half, with one group of kids behind home plate and other half behind second base. Give the first kid of each group a ball (this will be the "baton" for the relay race). At "GO!" the first kid from each team begins running the bases, ball in hand. After making a complete lap around the bases, back to each kid's starting point, that kid hands the ball off to the next kid in line, who continues the relay race. First group of kids to finish the race wins.

 

Our kids often beg for rematches and will VOLUNTARILY run the race ALL OUT at least three or four times! Even the coaches participate on occasions. The kids love it!

 

WOLVERINE DRILL

We always end our group sessions of practice with base running drills. This is one of our finest.

 

1) Start all the players at home. Swing the bat run through first base as if it was a double, then hustle back to the base. At this point the next batter goes. They wait at first base until all are done.

 

2) Lead off first, dive back to base as in a pick off. Then lead off again, coach says go run towards second picking up the third base coach 1/2 way to second as he waves you around to third. As you pass second pick up ball. When the runner takes off to second the next runner leads and dives back to first.

 

3) When all players are at third, we lead off into foul ground and dive back to third getting used to the proper length lead. Then we will lead again and tag up. The coach says tag, you hustle back to third and pick up the ball as the coach says go you hustle to home plate and the next players takes their lead.

 

We do this 2 to 3 times and the kids really get the feel for their leads and the way different coaches coach bases.

 

 

SAFE SLIDING PRACTICE TIP

When practicing sliding try using a large piece of cardboard placed on grass. Have the kids start their slide hitting the piece of cardboard. This causes the cardboard to slide on the grass instead of the kid so there is less chance for injury due to abrasion or maybe snagging a cleat or shoe in the grass. Use a stick of some kind as sort of limbo bar and have them slide under it to make sure they stay as low as possible. Make sure they practice good form (slide more on your back than side and keep the hands up and back).

 

Always wear batting helmets when practicing.

 

SLOW DOWN TIP

I coach 1st and 2nd graders. Many of them slow down before they get to first base instead of running through the bag. During practice, I have the kids run to a base I place about 15 feet past first. This way they keep up their speed through the first.

 

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