4 of the Best Base Running Drills

September 10, 2012 | Eric Bunnell

Must See Baseball Videos

To be a well-rounded baseball player, you must develop and practice your base running skills. As my Guide To Base Running Strategy states, because rounding the bags happens almost every play, it is critical to allot time each practice to base running.

To be a talented base runner, you must first recognize when the defense makes a mistake, then be able to capitalize on the opportunity. Develop your team’s base running skills with the following four drills. Each base running drill can be practiced individually, in small groups, or as a team—to incorporate a unified base running mentality.

Base Running Drills

1. Ground Ball Reads

Anytime a player can eliminate the need for a sacrifice bunt to preserve an out, it's a huge advantage for the offense. Consider the benefit for your team if you habitually advanced from first base to third through a series of steals.

The Drill: The drill begins with a runner at first, taking a conservative lead. The coach feeds himself the ball and hits it toward centerfield. When the coach feeds himself the ball—the toss serves as the pitch—the runner takes a secondary lead. Once the ball is hit, the runner reacts to the ball by sprinting to second base, while keeping his eye on the ball and the fielder. Before arriving at second base, the runner should have already made a decision on whether to advance to third.

As a rule of thumb, continue to third base if you reach second before the outfielder has the ball. Keep in mind: it's far easier to slam on the brakes than turn on the jets. If the fielder has the ball, simply round the bag and watch the throw, ready to take advantage of a throwing error.

2. Dirtball Reads

When a pitcher throws a ball in the dirt, take advantage of the opportunity by stealing an extra base. If a ball skips away from the catcher, runners must take advantage of the situation by advancing. The trouble lies with in-between balls, those that stray out of the batter's box but not out of the dirt circle. This is where a little anticipation comes in handy. Know the count, the situation, where the other runners are and what they may be thinking. If it's a breaking ball count (0-2, 1-2, even 1-1), expect a ball in the dirt and take an extra step toward the next base.

The Drill: This drill should be performed with a loaded infield and any number of runner combinations. The runners should start at any base in the infield. The coach short hops the ball to home plate, so the catcher, forced to block the ball, allows the runners time to read the situation and quickly decide whether to advance to the next base. The coach should keep the runners honest by mixing in strikes.

3. Tennis Ball Drop

Obviously, there is no better way to improve your stealing skills than to face a pitcher practicing his pickoff moves. However, this opportunity isn't always available. When a pitcher isn’t available, use the Tennis Ball Drop drill to improve your reaction time. (For more drills to improve reaction time, head to: Reaction Time With Longhorn Baseball.)

The Drill: With a player on the pitcher's mound holding a tennis ball, the runner takes a lead off first base. The player  releases the tennis ball, triggering the runner's break for second base. Whether the runner runs the full distance to second base, the first ten feet, or halfway, it doesn’t matter, since the first few steps are most important. The player on the mound should vary his release time to eliminate any chance for the runner to time up the pitch.

4. Resistance Steal Breaks

When it comes to stealing, your first step is your most important. This drill can be done with a tennis ball, a live pitcher or verbal signals.

The Drill: The runner starts by taking a normal lead off first base. Instead of balancing his weight on both feet equally, the runner should exaggerate his lean toward second base by placing more weight on his right foot. A partner standing to the right of the runner place his hands on the runner's forward leaning (right ) shoulder. The runner should feel somewhat unbalanced. Once in this position, the partner lets go, then pushes the runner forward, propelling him into a sprint. This forces the runner to run fast enough to keep his balance. (Check out 5 Tips on How to Run Faster.) This drill makes the runner explode out of the gate toward second base. Again, the distance you run can vary between the first ten feet to the entire distance. Just make sure to concentrate on a good start.

Eric Bunnell
- Eric Bunnell has coached college baseball for nearly a decade. He currently works with infielders, catchers and base runners at Lake Erie College in Painesville,...
Eric Bunnell
- Eric Bunnell has coached college baseball for nearly a decade. He currently works with infielders, catchers and base runners at Lake Erie College in Painesville,...

Featured Videos

Tim Tebow's NFL Off-Season Workout Tim Tebow's NFL Off-Season Workout Views: 152,523
Path to the Pros 2015: Trae Waynes Path to the Pros 2015: Trae Waynes Views: 80,168
Path to the Pros 2015: Marcus Mariota Path to the Pros 2015: Marcus Mariota Views: 1,267,361
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds
Views: 43,450,145
Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied
Views: 12,117,693
Colin Kaepernick's Core Workout Colin Kaepernick's Core Workout
Views: 895,904
Robert Griffin III Pocket Presence QB Drill Robert Griffin III Pocket Presence QB Drill
Views: 6,866,217
Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill
Views: 9,501,255

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
How to Punt a Football: A Step-by-Step Photo Guide

How to Punt a Football: A Step-by-Step Photo Guide

3 Things You Are Doing Wrong In Your Basketball Training

3 Things You Are Doing Wrong In Your Basketball Training

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Drills for Beginners

Fastpitch Softball Hitting Drills for Beginners

5 Drills to Improve Your Soccer Dribbling Skills

5 Drills to Improve Your Soccer Dribbling Skills

Success With Health: How Trevor Bauer Increased His Velocity

Success With Health: How Trevor Bauer Increased His Velocity

How to Dribble a Basketball

How to Dribble a Basketball

10 Essential Point Guard Drills From Skylar Diggins

10 Essential Point Guard Drills From Skylar Diggins

How to Improve Your Basketball Skills in the Weight Room

How to Improve Your Basketball Skills in the Weight Room

The 4 Fundamentals of Hitting a Baseball

The 4 Fundamentals of Hitting a Baseball

WATCH: 5 Post Moves From Nerlens Noel

WATCH: 5 Post Moves From Nerlens Noel

How Tampa Bay Rays Pitcher Chris Archer Got in All-Star Shape

How Tampa Bay Rays Pitcher Chris Archer Got in All-Star Shape

Learn to Shoot a Basketball with the BEEF Method

Learn to Shoot a Basketball with the BEEF Method

2 Drills to Help You Play Lockdown Basketball Defense

2 Drills to Help You Play Lockdown Basketball Defense

4 Tips for Coaching Low-Velocity Softball Pitchers

4 Tips for Coaching Low-Velocity Softball Pitchers

Drills for a Better Pole Vault Swing

Drills for a Better Pole Vault Swing

Improve Your Basketball Passes With Med Ball Exercises

Improve Your Basketball Passes With Med Ball Exercises

How Stephen Curry Became the Best Shooter in the NBA

How Stephen Curry Became the Best Shooter in the NBA

Learn from Steph Curry: Stay the Course to Beat the Defense

Learn from Steph Curry: Stay the Course to Beat the Defense

Basketball Speed Drills for Offense

Basketball Speed Drills for Offense

Become a Better Baserunner With This Agility Drill

Become a Better Baserunner With This Agility Drill

The Football Route Tree, Explained

The Football Route Tree, Explained

Teach the Layup with the Two-Step Drill

Teach the Layup with the Two-Step Drill

Drive Defenders Crazy With These Super Moves from NBA Legends

Drive Defenders Crazy With These Super Moves from NBA Legends

Softball Pitchers: How to Play Your Best Over a Complete Season

Softball Pitchers: How to Play Your Best Over a Complete Season

How to Shoot a Basketball Better

How to Shoot a Basketball Better

10 Tips Every AAU Player Must Know

10 Tips Every AAU Player Must Know

Train for Hockey Off the Ice This Summer

Train for Hockey Off the Ice This Summer

Winter Soccer Workout to Improve Ball Handling

Winter Soccer Workout to Improve Ball Handling

Boost Your Fastball With This Weighted Baseball Workout

Boost Your Fastball With This Weighted Baseball Workout

Improve Your Jump Shot with Core Strength

Improve Your Jump Shot with Core Strength

How to Create a Killer Crossover Without a Basketball

How to Create a Killer Crossover Without a Basketball

Never Fumble Again: How to Carry a Football

Never Fumble Again: How to Carry a Football

3 Secrets of the NBA's Best Shooters

3 Secrets of the NBA's Best Shooters

Basketball Shooting Technique: How to Shoot a Floater

Basketball Shooting Technique: How to Shoot a Floater

'Squash the Bug' and Other Softball Batting Tips That Don't Work

'Squash the Bug' and Other Softball Batting Tips That Don't Work

3 Steps to Better In-Game Baseball Hitting

3 Steps to Better In-Game Baseball Hitting

Build a Better Layup With These Basketball Speed Drills

Build a Better Layup With These Basketball Speed Drills

Why Basketball Players Must Improve Their Weak Hand

Why Basketball Players Must Improve Their Weak Hand

4 Soccer Drills to Shoot Better While on the Move

4 Soccer Drills to Shoot Better While on the Move

YardBarker