How to Run the Bases

Here are some rules of thumb for baserunning
1. Don’t make the 1st or 3rd out at third base
If you stop at 2nd with no outs, the hitter can move you up to 3rd with one out so you can score multiple different ways without needing a hit.
If you stop at 2nd with 2 outs, you are still in scoring position, and you basically need a hit to score you whether you are on 2nd or 3rd.
2. Use the third base coach on plays you can’t see
Baserunning situation: You’re on 1st and the batter hits a single to left center field.  If you can see the ball the whole way, then you can decide whether or not to advance to 3rd on your own.
If you are a runner on 1st and there is a single hit to right field, that is when we look for some help from the 3rd base coach.  He is our eyes when we lose sight of the baseball.
3. Don’t get doubled off first base
As a runner on first, don’t ever get doubled up on a line drive to 3rd or shortstop.  In other words, be able to get back to first if the line drive gets caught.  There is no reason to be too aggressive on this play.  Even if the ball gets through the infield you will have to stop at 2nd anyway because the left fielder is there to hold you at 2nd.

In the heat of the game, you don’t have time to ask questions, so it is expected that you know these rules of thumb.

Important baseball base running tips for getting to first after contact
You made contact with the baseball and hit a grounder through the infield.  Now what?
Step 1.  If a ball is hit on the ground, put your head down and run as hard as you can with as much efficiency as possible.
Step 2.  After about three steps take a peek to see if the ball went through the infield.  If it doesn’t get through, you’re going to run straight through the first base bag. (If it does get through, you’ll be planning a different route that will take you to 2nd base.  More on that below.)
Important Base Running Tip
Have you ever wondered, “Why are there 2 chalk lines painted in the 1st baseline starting halfway from home to 1st and continuing through the 1st base bag?”
The 45-foot line.   All baselines from home to first have a rectangular box that extends 3 feet outside the baseline starting halfway down the line and continuing towards first. This is known as the 45-foot line.
What it’s for.  The purpose of this line is for the runner to stay in this box when there is a bunt or any play that the ball could interfere with the runner. As long as the runner stays in this box he will be called safe. Getting hit by the baseball outside of this box results in an out.
Step 3.  Focus on the front part of the bag.  That is where your foot will hit since it is the closest and safest spot to hit the bag when sprinting.
Stepping on the back part or the side of the bag increases your chance of turning an ankle. Always hit the front part of the bag.
Step 4.  After you hit the bag, stop your momentum by chopping your feet as quick as possible and turn your head to the right, just to see if the baseball got past the 1st baseman.
Pro Tip:  When coming back to 1st base, always turn to your right and come back, so the umpire never has the thought that you were thinking of going to second base. If he feels you were trying to go just for a split second and you get tagged, you will be called out.
If the ball gets through the infield
If the baseball is through the infield you are going to make a turn towards 2nd.
Start Early. Start this turn early right when you see it went through – don’t wait until you are 20 feet from the bag.  Start early and make it a gradual arch.
Use the Base.  From this angle, you want to hit the inside front part of the bag to push off of and try to get the straightest path possible to second (See image to the right).
Plan Your Path.  This is the exact path we want to take on a double or triple. We always want to try to attain the straightest path possible when going into a bag where there could be a potential play. It is the quickest way.
How to take a lead from 1st base, how to take a lead from 2nd base, secondary leads
1. Eyes on the Pitcher.  Always keep your eyes on the pitcher (or wherever the baseball is) when you are off of the bag.  Even if you are just one foot off the bag, keep your eyes on the baseball.
2. Don’t Cross Your Feet.  When stepping out to your desired length, don’t cross your feet.  At any time, the pitcher could try to pick you off and if you are crossing your legs when he is throwing over you are not in a very good position to get back into the bag.
3. Strategy.   Some players like to take their leads and take one step closer to the pitcher, this gives off an optical illusion that you are closer to the bag than you really are.
Others like to take their leads and take one step away from the pitcher.  This is so when they dive back into the bag, they will make contact with the back corner.
This makes the tag a little more difficult for the first baseman, but this angle makes it look like you are a little further away from the bag than you really are.
4. Consistency.  Your leads should be the same every time so you don’t tip off when you are about to steal.
You should be able to get the same lead every time without looking back at the bag to see how far you are away.  Get your lead the same way every time.
5. Distance. Your ideal lead is somewhere between 9 and 12 feet away from the bag.
How to Take a Lead from 2nd Base
There are two types of leads you take at second base:
The first is with less than 2 outs or looking to steal third base.
The next is with 2 outs or, you are not worrying too much about moving up to third base, you are committing to scoring on a single to the outfield.
Lead #1:  Less than 2 outs, or Looking to Steal 3rd
With less than 2 outs or if you are trying to steal 3rd you want it to be a straight line between 2nd and 3rd.
Don’t get outside the baseline.  The quickest path between 2nd and 3rd is in between the bases.  If you move out away from the baseline (back toward shortstop) you are creating a longer distance to third base.
You want to get 10-15 feet off the second base bag.  This depends on how comfortable you feel off the bag, and how quickly you can get back to second.
The initial distance in your leads from 2nd should be based on whether you can get back to the bag on a pick from the pitcher, regardless of where the middle infielders are playing.
As the middle infielders get further away, you can take another step, but as they get a closer move back to the spot where you know you can get back to 2nd safely.  From that spot, you can confidently hold your ground, until he moves back into a fielding position.
Keep your eyes on the pitcher
It is a good habit to always look at whoever has the baseball.  As long as you know where the baseball is, you should never be surprised.
As you get to your desired lead, listen to your third base coach, he will help you with the middle infielders and how close they are to you.
Before you take your lead, you should have an idea who is holding you on.  If it is the shortstop, you are using the eyes of the 3rd base coach to help you out.  If it’s the 2nd baseman, you are still using the 3rd base coach’s eyes but you are also using your peripheral vision to aid in getting back to the bag.
Once the pitcher starts to pitch the ball, we start our secondary lead, expecting a single hit to the outfield where we have to score.
Lead #2: Two out
 With 2 outs we are not worried as much about just moving up to third base, we are going to be a little more aggressive about trying to score and we want to give ourselves the best opportunity.
Initial lead – With 2 outs usually the middle infielders are not holding us on, or if they are it is not to close, they don’t want to create holes in the defensive positioning.
We want to have a 12-15 foot lead initially toward 3rd base.  From there take about 3-5 steps back (toward the shortstop) so the baseline is in front of you.
 This angle we create by moving back 3-5 steps will help our running path to home plate be shorter and straighter.  We want to set an angle coming around third so the distance we run is as short as possible.  Moving back a few feet will do this.
 Also, by setting this angle before we start running we will be closer to top speed the whole way to home plate rather than losing a little speed trying to bow out and set an angle around third base.
Secondary Leads – A secondary lead is a movement you make toward the next base once the pitcher has committed to pitch the ball home.
Our objective is to create some momentum and cut down the distance to the next base in case of a batted ball or a pitch that gets away from the catcher.
Shuffle Steps –  Once the pitcher starts his movement home, your lead starts to turn into a secondary lead by taking 2 shuffle steps toward the next base.
Balance –  As you take your shuffle steps, keep your feet close to the ground and keep your center of gravity over your toes in case you need to change direction quickly.
Weight Distribution –  As the pitch gets into the strike zone you should have your weight about 70/30 to your right foot, and your momentum should be stopped.   From this position you can continue easily to the next base; or if the catcher tries to pick you off, you are in a good position to get back to the bag.
Step Back –  Once the catcher secures the ball, take at least one hard step back to the bag.  This hard step will stop any thoughts of catcher trying to pick you off and will give you good habits to prevent any baserunning mistakes.
Baserunning tips and instruction on how to read batted balls as a base runner on second base.
Second base can be the most difficult place to be a base runner.
Knowing when to advance and when to stay at second will prevent any embarrassing baserunning mistakes that can cost your team valuable runs.   The read you make on a batted ball can be the difference in scoring or being thrown out at the plate.
Look at the infield and outfield positioning
First things first… Be able to have a feel of where everyone is playing, so when a ball is hit, you may be able to get a great jump and anticipate a hit, rather than wait for a ball to fall before you commit to running to third base.  Knowledge of the defense will help with getting a better jump.
Know the number of outs
This is important because you will play batted balls differently depending on whether there is 0,1, or 2 outs.
– 0 outs –  Your goal is to get to third with one out.  You are trying to do this so you can score on a sacrifice fly or a ground ball in the infield if the infield plays back (number 1 depth).
On a fly ball hit to the outfield, you want to tag up and try to get to third.  Don’t worry about getting halfway and watching to make sure the outfielder catches the baseball.  Be in a position if he catches the baseball where you can tag up and move up to third.  Let the hitter knock you in, don’t try to do too much and make a mistake.
– 1 out –  With one out you are already in scoring position and tagging up and moving up to third doesn’t help too much.  Being at third with 2 outs is not much different than being at second with 2 outs.
On the same fly ball that was hit with 0 outs, you want to play it differently with 1 out.  As the baseball is hit, you want to get at least halfway between 2nd and 3rd base.  This will allow you to be able to score in case the outfielder makes a mistake and drops the ball.  If he catches the baseball, just get back to second and hopefully, the next hitter will get a hit to bring you in.
The mindset with one out is different than with 0 outs because with one out we want to be in a position to score or get back to second base.  With 0 outs we want to be able to move up to third base, that is our priority.
– 2 outs –  Our goal is pretty simple with 2 outs, once the baseball is hit we run.  Make sure you anticipate a swing and if you see contact, run hard and expect to score.
When to advance on ground balls in the infield.
The idea is basic, but there are a lot of mistakes made when a runner tries to advance to third when he shouldn’t have.

Most mistakes are caused because the hitter makes an unproductive out and the runner tries to help out the hitter and make a great baserunning play.  This usually backfires and the runner will be at fault, and you will take yourself out of scoring position.

Basic rule
If a batted ball is hit to your right (after you have completed your secondary lead) stay at second base.  The throw to first is long and a much easier play for the shortstop is to come up and throw to third base.
If a batted ball is hit to your left (after you have completed your secondary lead) advance to third base.  If the shortstop is moving to his left, he will just continue and take the out at first.  A ball hit to the second baseman is too risky of a play to try to get the out at third.
Exceptions to the rule
If a batted ball is hit to your right and the third baseman is playing deep and has to go a long way to his right or left to make a play, you may be able to move up to third base.  If you leave early enough he may be in a bad position to tag you before you can get to the third base bag.  His only play will be at 1st base.
If a chopper is hit where the third baseman has to charge in hard and field the baseball on the run somewhere on the infield grass, move up to third base.  His momentum will take him away from the bag, and if you read it early enough you should be able to get into third easily.  Just make sure you can beat the shortstop over to third base.

Understanding when and when not to move up to third on a batted ball can help your team or really hurt your team if you aren’t sure what you are doing, or don’t react properly.  If you talk to yourself about the situation, and you know what you are going to do before it happens, it makes reading balls a lot easier.