By Josh Staph
According to Lance Sewell, strength and conditioning coach for Texas baseball, taking an initial false step is one of the biggest mistakes young base stealers make. "You see a lot of guys pick up their right foot, then put it back on the ground without going anywhere," he says. "This keys the catcher into the fact that you're going to run, but you haven't covered any ground to second base yet. The defense gets a heads up, which means the difference between being safe or thrown out."
Sewell uses the following drill twice a week to teach the proper first steps of base stealing and to get the Longhorns ready to react to a pitcher's movement. It results in a Texas team that is a perennial frontrunner in the national championship race.
Ball Drop Reactive Start
Assume a base-running stance like you're taking your primary lead. Have a partner or coach, who's holding a tennis ball at shoulder level, stand in front and to the side of you, simulating the pitcher. When your partner drops the ball, react by crossing over with your left leg and pivoting on your right foot simultaneously. Explode into a hard sprint for 10 yards.
Advanced: 1. Partner holds a ball in each hand. This forces you to concentrate on multiple elements, because you don't know which ball will drop. 2. Close your eyes and react to partner's clap.
Rest: 45-60 seconds
Sewell says: When the ball is dropped, take a quick crossover step with your left leg. Bring the leg up, over and down as you simultaneously rotate on the ball of your right foot. Drive your right elbow and hand back toward your right back pocket. On your next step, your body should be turned and headed toward second base.
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