Jim Crane's Base Running Tips

Believe it or not there is a right and wrong method to running the bases. Just because a man is very fast does not mean he can run the bases better than an average runner. By running the bases properly you can cut down two steps at first, second and third base.

1. Footwork:
Put very simply when running or rounding a base hit the bag with your inside or left foot. This enables you to start pivoting towards the next base and eliminates at least two steps. Don't forget the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Since baseball is played on a diamond cutting down the distance between say home and third base by four steps can be the difference between a triple and an out. A base runner has to remember he can get all the way to third base four times a game but unless he scores he does not help the team. Look at the number or men left on base in a ball game and you can tell who the losers are; the name of the game is scoring and you do not get anything for second best.
2. Practice:
Major league scouts have said they look for three things in a prospect (1) hitting ability (2) strong arm (3) can he run. Running, like anything else in baseball could and should be practiced; walking, bicycle riding, any game which entails running helps you practice. You can mark off bases in a playground area whether dirt or concrete and run the bases. Time yourself against the other kids in your neighborhood; if you want to be a complete ball player you will learn to run the bases faster than anyone else.
3. The Contribution to your Team:
Being a baserunner gives your team an edge; the pitcher now has to change from his windup positin and come to a set position. The catcher has to come up out of his squat position and be ready to throw if you try to steal. The first and third basemen have to be ready for a bunt. The second baseman and shortstop have to come in a few steps for the possible steal attempt or double play. The outfielders have to be ready to throw to the right base on a ball hit to them or past them. By getting on base, and being a good baserunner (and by this is meant fast and smart), know what you can do and do it. Do not hesitate on the base paths; watch your coaches at first and third base; it is there responsibility to know how fast you can run and how well you run the bases.
4. The Proper Lead:
The proper lead is taken from a base by the runner taking one step plus the length of his body. This will enable him to take one step and dive back head first on a close pick off play. In taking a lead the runner should never cross his feet when getting off the bag. A good pitcher will watch for this and as soon as he sees your feet crossed he will throw to the bag and catch you off balance. You should shift your feet or glide off the bag keeping your feet comfortably apart and be well balanced. You should not tend to "lean" either to your left or right since you may have to go in either direction.
5. Leading off Second Base:
The proceeding is basically for a runner at either first or third, but a runner at second is a different ballgame. The runner leading off second should take as much as the second baseman or shortstop will allow. When you take a lead from second base keep an eye on the second baseman; he has to defend his area from a ball hit his way as well as keep you near the bag. Your third base coach has the responsibility to keep you informed about the shortstop. Your main concentration is on the pitcher; watch his foot; as long as his foot is in contact with the rubber or pitching slab he cannot fake a pitch towards home plate. If he starts to come back to the base you're occupying get back fast. The pitcher can fake a move to second base, but he cannot fake a throw to either first or third.