Every baseball team, especially a youth baseball team, has a certain amount of raw natural skill levels built into the players. Some teams I coached had an abundance of power hitters, others strong defensive players, some over powering pitching, but one thing in common all the teams had was Baseball Instinct when running the bases.
I'm sure it happened, but for the life of me I do not remember one single player of mine being thrown out attempting to advance an additional base, not including a straight out steal attempt, due to the base running skills they were taught.
There are far too many variables to discuss in one article, but let's exam a few of the basic elements of developing good instincts on the base paths.
1. Reaction must be immediate, as any hesitation, no matter how slight, will jeopardize your chance of success.
(A) Players on first base were taught to immediately take off for second base the instant they saw the pitched baseball hit the ground. It didn't matter if it was a 55' curveball, hitting 5' in front of the plate, or a ball that hits home plate.
Ninety nine percent (99%) of the time if a catcher does not cleanly receive a pitch he will not be able to locate, properly grip and get into a good throwing position to throw a runner out at second base, especially if the runner has average or above average speed.
2. Runners on second base are taught to crow hop the second they see the ball hit the ground, which is different from immediately running to third base, but still puts their body into motion. There's nothing worse in running than being caught flat footed.
(A) Should the ball skirt to the catcher's right, towards first base, regardless of the distance, the runner is to immediately take off for third base. The catcher's momentum is carrying him away from third base, which means he must stop and reverse momentum once he grips the ball, plus every step he takes chasing the ball is increasing his distance he must throw.
(B) Balls which skirt to the left or out in front of the plate, unless more than 3 or 4 feet, most likely are too close to advance on, although that is subject to the runner's speed, lead off and reaction time. This is where the runner must be aware of his own skills, as the coach doesn't have time to help.
3. Immediately attempt to score from 3rd base the instant you see the catcher's back. Assuming the backstop is not 4 feet away or has a wooden board across it which creates a ricochet back to the catcher, should the catcher be required to turn his back to the plate in order to retrieve the baseball, chances are excellent for success.
I know certain baseball people would possibly argue everything I have explained by questioning what if this happens or this, but what if the world ended today?
I guarantee you implementing these base running instinct skills will result in your runners being safe, while advancing on a wild pitch or muffed ball, 99% of the time. That's an average I can live with.