Most parents and coaches have witnessed some ridiculous baserunning blunders from young ballplayers. Kids forget to drop the bat, they run down the third base line, and some forget to run at all. While baserunning confusion can be expected from the youngest of players, it becomes a more serious strategic part of the game as the competition gets stiffer.
Baserunning is an often overlooked baseball fundamental (link). Today, we will review the fundamentals of baserunning, the rules of baserunning, how to get young players into great physical shape, and how base coaches can help their players navigate the paths.
Baserunning is actually fairly complex when taking all of the potential scenarios into account. For simplicity’s sake, let’s ignore issues like the infield fly rule, sacrifice bunts, and so forth and focus on the basic rules. All young players should strive to understand the following:
These are extremely high level explanations. For more detailed information, try leafing through the official MLB rulebook.
Much like the previous section, there is no way to adequately cover the many fundamentals of baserunning in a short article. Instead of trying to cover it all, we will key in on some teachable fundamentals which can be taught at any age.
Run through first base on an infield hit. When runners are trying to beat out a throw, they should be taught to run in foul territory in a straight line through first base. If they turn into fair territory at any time, they may be thrown or tagged out.
Make a “banana turn” on an outfield hit. If a player hits a ball which could potentially be extra bases, they should take a sweeping “banana turn” in foul territory at first base to make the angle easier towards second.
Take leads and secondary leads. After every pitch, each baserunner should take a few steps towards the next base, see if the ball is hit or gets past the catcher, then return safely if not.
Work with base coaches on the field. Above all else, youth baseball players should look and listen out for base coaches to direct them where to go during the game.
The rules of baserunning are all well and good, but they won’t help your team win if your young players can’t run. Conditioning work for youth baseball is often not a high priority. We do recommend some sprint and long distance work for athletes of all ages to keep them physically fit and able to round ‘em all should the occasion arise.
The best way to condition for bases is probably to have your kids run the bases. This can be done by setting aside dedicated baserunning time or ensuring that other drills encompass plenty of running. A simple idea is to have players run all the way around the basepaths at the end of every round of batting practice.
Earlier, we touched on the importance of baserunners communicating with base coaches. So how can base coaches prepare themselves for game time situations?
Pittsburgh-based Hustle Training is a growing startup created for the sports-driven players and coaches out there looking to up their game and maximize performance potential. Their website coupled with the mobile app makes it easy for players to improve their fundamentals and move on to master advanced techniques by providing crafted workouts and drills created by college coaches, professional players, and expert trainers.
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