Sunday, October 5, 2008

Slow Runners Can Be Great Baserunners

By Steve Rau
Some baseball people believe that a player needs to have blazing speed to be a great baserunner. This is a total misconception among players and coaches. Baserunning is all about instincts. I love coaching those players who always know when to take the extra base or what's the opportune time to take a risk. Don't get me wrong, pure speed can be extremely valuable to your team and very disruptive to the opposition, but usually the not so fast, instinctive baserunners are the guys who can make the difference in a game.

How does a player become an instinctive baserunner? The answer is the same as to how one becomes an instinctive baseball player; study the game. Great baserunners know the situations and variables that go into, not only each game, but also each play.

Here's a list of items instinctive baserunners consider on the base paths:

Speed of the outfielders
Arm strength of all fielders
Range of the infielders
Weather conditions (wind, rain, sun, etc.)
Your own speed
Flight of the ball
Speed of the ball
Length of the grass
Grass infield vs. dirt infield
Right-handed vs. left-handed (ball fades or hooks differently)
Direction fielder is going to field the ball
Score of the game
Inning of the game
Outs in the inning
Batter on deck

I may have overlooked a few, but you get the picture. It's not all about speed; slow runners can also be great baserunners, but they'll need to study the game.

Coach Steve Rau is a long time baseball instructor and co-founder of Play Ball Academy. He has been a part of championship baseball programs as both a player and coach for over 20 years. He currently helps hundreds of coaches and young ballplayers improve their baseball knowledge through online and offline instruction.

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1 comment:

FUNcoach said...

I absolutely agree with your post. I have an 11 year old son who has average speed at best. However, opposing coaches believe (wrongly) that he is the fastest kid on my team. He gets a great jump when stealing and understands how to use basecoaches to help him determine whether to take another base. He also watches a lot of baseball so he knows which types of hits will be trouble for fielders. With all of the other details of the game which must be taught, this is a classic example of an area which could use more emphasis.