More runs are gained (or lost) in Little League due to heads-up base running or base running errors than are gained as a result of actual hits.
If you are a Little League coach, make the following tips second nature to all members of your team and it could be the difference between a couple of extra wins or a couple of extra losses:
While In The Dugout
- Study the pitcher's move to first, second and third base when you are on the bench. Usually, you will find something he does every time during his pick-off move that you can use to get a jump when you are on base.
- Watch the outfielders arms during between-inning warmups and during the game so that you know which outfielders have strong, accurate arms and which ones don't.
Running From the Plate
- Always stay balanced throughout your swing. It will make your first step toward first base much quicker.
- After a couple of steps, take a quick glance toward where the ball was hit to see if you should be rounding first base to try for another base or not.
- On ground balls that get through the infield, always be prepared to round first and go to second.
- On fielded grounders, always run hard through first base. Check over your right shoulder for overthrows and be ready to move when they happen.
- Pay attention to the other team's second baseman and shortstop and look for an opportunity to run to second base if they are out of position.
While On First Base
- While running hard to second base, always keep an eye on the third base coach.
While On Second Base
- NEVER take a chance and make the first or third out while trying for third base.
- Always hold up on any grounder hit to shortstop or third base. Always run on any ball hit to the second baseman or first baseman.
- When taking a lead off of second base, always be aware of where the second baseman AND the shortstop are. It may help you get a better lead off the bag or stay closer if you need to.
While On Third Base
- Take a lead in foul territory. When returning to third after taking a lead, always do it in fair territory.
- Tag on any ball hit in the air with two outs.
- NEVER slide headfirst into home plate.
While On Any Base
- Always make sure the pitcher has the ball before taking a lead off the bag.
- Keep an eye on the third base coach between pitches for signs to steal or hit and run.
- Always look to see if the next base is being covered by a player from the opposing team when you are running bases. If not, there is no one to throw to and it is an easy extra base.
- Always anticipate a ball being pitched into the dirt and run hard when you see that happen. Very few Little League catchers can field a ball in the dirt, stand up and make a quick, accurate throw.
- Know that although a headfirst slide is slightly faster, you should never do it. Not only can you get injured but you are out of position to run to the next base if the ball gets by the infielder.
- Always know how many outs there are and what you should do in each situation.
- Always run on any swing with two outs and two strikes.
- Always hold on any line drive with less than two outs.
- If caught in a rundown, always stay in it as long as possible. Not only could a throwing or fielding error occur, but it will allow other base runners to advance an extra base.
- When returning to any base, always look at the coach.
- Make sure any bunted ball hits the ground first before trying to advance to the next base.
- Make sure the ball is actually hit first before running on a hit and run play.
- Always run hard on the pitch with three balls, two strikes and two outs.
Make sure plenty of practice time is devoted to teaching base running scenarios. If all of your players are doing the above, it will undoubtedly earn you a few extra runs per game and a few extra wins!
Pitching Machine Stop Quote of the Day:"Baseball is 90 percent mental and the other half is physical." - Yogi Berra