It is often said that you can’t teach speed, but by utilizing these fastpitch drills and tips, your team will learn proper base running and base stealing techniques to make your team seem even faster.
Some coaches believe that teaching base running should focus on the faster runners on the team. That is short sighted because even the slowest runner on the team should know proper running techniques to shave off whatever time possible. Make these fastpitch drills and tips a team event.
Running to First Base
Refer to the diagram above. When teaching your players to run to first, it is important that they know to run in foul territory (highlighted in yellow). The reason for this is that if the batter lays down a bunt (or swinging bunt) and the catcher/fielder hits the runner in the back while the batter is running in fair territory, the umpire will call the hitter out for interference.
Another thing unique about first base is it is the only base where the runner can run through (overrun) the bag and safely come back to the base, as long as the batter made no attempt towards second (in other words, ran into foul territory versus making a motion towards second base.
Have your players form a line. The first player steps up to home plate with her bat. The coach “pitches” the ball. The batter swings the bat and runs to first base, on the foul side of the foul line and through the first base bag. Repeat this fastpitch drill for all of the players. Time your players. In subsequent practices, challenge them to beat their previous time.
Running the Bases
Refer to the diagram above. When looking to travel more than one base at a time, the base runner should look to touch the lower inside corner of the bag with her right foot, as illustrated by the red line in the diagram. If she is running from home to first to second or any other multiple base run, she should swing a little wide prior to the approach of the intermediary base so as to hit the inside corner and travel directly to the next base. This is illustrated by the red line in the diagram.
Have your players form a line. The first player steps up to home plate with her bat. The coach “pitches” the ball. The batter swings the bat and runs to first base, on the foul side of the foul line and this time runs on to second base. Make sure they make the proper approach to the bag (rounding as they come to first, hitting the inside of the bag). Repeat for all of the players. Time your players. Now, to add a little bit of change, have a third a coach stand at third as the third base coach. The third base coach will indicate whether they should slide into second or continue to third (and even home). It is important to teach your players to “pick up” or look at the third base coach half way between first and second. Again, monitor that they are approaching each base as per the diagram and also hitting the inside of the bag. In subsequent practices, challenge them to beat their previous time. This also serves as good conditioning.
Getting and Timing a Lead Off of the Base
Unlike baseball, you cannot leave the base until the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand. If you leave early, the umpire will call you out. Therefore, to get a good jump, whether to steal a base or just to get a good lead once the ball is released, it is important to employ a technique to help your runners synchronize with the release of the ball. One such technique is illustrated in the picture above. Note that the runner’s arms are back and over her head. Note, also, that the runner has only her front foot on the bag. This will serve as a push off mechanism much like blocks do in a 100 meter run. As the pitcher begins her motion, the runner rocks back and moves her arms backwards. As the pitcher moves from the top of her windmill and starts moving her drive foot forward, the runner swings her arms in unison forward with the motion of the pitcher and starts to move her rear foot forward. In theory, as the runner’s arms are in a forward position, helping her catapult herself off of the bag, this should be at exactly the same point that the pitcher is releasing the ball (remember, the runner’s front foot is still has contact with the bag and the umpire cannot call her out for leaving the base early). This will result in a strong forward motion by the runner in unison with the pitcher’s release and provide her the best opportunity to steal the base.
This drill is done in conjunction with your pitchers throwing off of the mound for their daily practice session. Line up half of your field players at first and the other half at second. Include the pitchers not currently throwing. Have a base runner stand at first and second, and as the pitcher goes through her motion, have the base runners go through their motion and steal the next base sliding in that base. The runner who ran to second now gets in the second base line and the runner who stole third now gets in the first base line. Repeat this exercise multiple times for each player. Time the players so that they know what they need to beat in subsequent practices.
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