Become A Threat On The Base Paths

14 Jun

A good base runner poses many threats to the opposition. For starters, the ability to steal bases creates a mental nightmare for pitchers. The more worried a pitcher is about keeping a runner close, the less focused he is on the guy in the box. Additionally, the ability to take a base is as valuable as a base hit, or sacrifice; effectively moving a man into scoring position without having to waste an out. Lastly, great base runners aren’t always the fastest guys on the team, but the ones who can react quickly and make good decisions. Even with lightning speed, a delay in reaction time often becomes the difference between being out and safe. The movements below will help you become more reactive, accelerate better, and make game speed decisions.

Lateral Jump For Distance

The unique part about baseball is that most of the game’s explosive movements are initiated laterally. Think about it: throwing, hitting, and base running all involves an initial push from the side. With this in mind, it’s important that we use explosive movements that mirror this coordinated effort. The lateral jump is a great choice.

  • Assume a position with one foot on the floor, and one foot elevated with the leg of the elevated foot cocked slightly and knee flexed to about 90 degrees.
  • You will be facing perpendicular to the direction of your jump.
  • The foot that is down will be on the opposite side of the intended direction of your jump. The knee will be slightly bent on the planted foot leg.
  • Your arms should be loaded in the same fashion as if you were running, one up – one down, opposite of the foot that is down and the foot that is up.
  • On your call or the call of a coach, forcefully push off the ground from the planted leg.
  • Aim to jump as far out laterally as possible, not vertically.
  • Also, strive for extension of the back leg ankle, knee and hip.
  • Land soft in an athletic position.
  • General Recommendations for sets / reps are 3 – 10 sets of 3 – 5 jumps per side.
  • This movement may also be loaded via band resistance, weight vests or even dumbbells.

Half Kneeling Sprint Take Offs 

In order to accelerate well you need to have solid mechanics. If you look at a picture of a sprinter on takeoff, you will notice a few things. One, they have a tremendous amount of forward lean. Secondly, they have achieved extension through the entire back leg (ankle, knee, hip). There are quite a few drills to help train this position. However, with baseball players it’s important to train the ability to acquire this position from the lateral stance. The half kneeling sprint take off is a solid choice. It involves an explosive lateral effort, and it starts from more of a static position.  The athlete is not able to load up completely, which is important because a base runner may not have the opportunity to anticipate (as a hitter or pitcher does), and therefore will need to create force quickly from a static position. Lastly, the lower point of initiation will help teach the movement from a lateral position into a straight ahead forward lean.

  • Assume a position on the floor with one knee up and one knee down.
  • You will be facing perpendicular to the direction of your sprint path.
  • The knee that is down will be on the opposite side of the intended direction of your sprint.
  • Your arms should be loaded in the same fashion as if you were running, one up – one down, opposite of the knee that is down and the knee that is up.
  • On your call or the call of a coach, forcefully push off the ground from the foot of the elevated knee.
  • As you push off the planted foot you should achieve a forward lean with the upper body, and place the non push off foot behind the leaning torso.
  • This foot will become your main initial push into the sprint and the athlete should strive to achieve extension of the ankle, knee and hip of this leg.
  • From here the athlete will continue to lean forward and focus on forceful intial steps (4-6), making sure not to cast the feet out in front of the body.
  • These should be done with a focus on improving acceleration and therefore should be performed at very short distances. A general set / rep prescription is 2 – 6 starts per leg.

Game Scenario 30yd Sprints

At a certain point in an athlete’s training program drills should begin to simulate the speed and demands of the sport. As mentioned earlier, a good base runner has the ability to make sound reactive decisions.  For base stealers this means being able to react to the pitcher: is he throwing to the plate or trying to pick you off? For all base runners, they need to quickly assess whether a ball put into to play warrants immediate advancement to an additional base, shuffling half way, or returning to the base of occupation. In order to train these qualities 30 yds sprints (the distance between bases) should be performed with a simulated outcome.

  • Have a coach or players set up as a pitcher, remember to simulate both right and left handed throwers.
  • A pre determined objective should be decided upon before the drill begins, are you stealing a base or not.
  • If you are running sprints to simulate base stealing, have the simulated pitcher rotate between throwing to the plate and attempting pick offs.
  • If you are simulating a ball in play, have the simulated pitcher rotate between throwing to the plate and pick off moves. If the ball is thrown to plate, call out different scenarios such as, infield ground ball, pop fly, and base hit. Have the runners react appropriately.

* Thank you to those in the videos for making these resources available

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