Teaching your athletes good base running skills will make a difference in the game. Being aggressive will gain extra bases and more scoring. Here are some specific areas to a coach needs to teach.
First thing you should teach your girls is to stay in foul territory down the first and third base lines. The reason for this is that a player inside the base line to first base could interfere with the throw to first base and be
called out. Secondly, if the hit is to the outfield, it makes it easier to make the turn at first base. The batter should continue through first base on an infield hit. What I mean by that is that the batter should not slow up on an infield hit as she approaches first base. She is allowed to go past first and have a safe way back as long as she does not make a move toward second base. If she makes a move toward second, she is now fair game to be tagged out. If the hit gets past the infield, the coach at first should tell her to round the base. Coach the athletes to take a little wider path toward first in order to make it easier to turn the corner toward second and step with her outside foot on the inside corner of the base. This shortens the path to the next base and reduces the chance of tripping on the base. When rounding the base, the athlete should be taught to turn her body to see where the ball is and get into an athletic position, which is feet apart, knees flexed in a low and balances position in order to either take off for second or quickly change directions and get back to first.
The base runner is allowed to lead off from any base after the ball has left the pitchers hand. If she leaves the base before the ball leaves the pitchers hand, the umpire can call a dead ball (no pitch) and call them out for leaving early. Timing is everything. You want your ball player to get a good lead quickly, but not to be called out for leaving to early. What I teach my players to do is to straddle the base with the ball of the lead foot against the base. Start the back foot forward as the pitcher is bringing her arm forward just before releasing the ball.
By the time her back foot makes contact with the ground, the ball should be coming out of the pitchers hand and the player has momentum toward the next base. It is now that the foot braced against the base should give a strong push like a track sprinter exploding out of the starting blocks. A consistent strong lead off move will keep the catcher guessing if she is going to steal or not and when she does steal she will have a strong jump toward the next base. If the base runner is at third base, the player should stay in foul territory when she leads off. The reason for that is if the batter hits a line drive that strikes her, if she is in foul territory, it is just a foul ball. If she is in fair territory and gets hit by a batted ball, she is out. Either way, it will leave a make, but why give up an out also.
Jessica Mendoza talks about leading off in this video.
Stealing a base is a matter of using the lead off technique without stopping. Good sliding skills are going to be needed most likely when stealing. Stealing a base on a pass ball is just a matter of a good lead off and reacting to the ball getting past the catcher. Your players should all be taught to take advantage of any opportunity to advance to the next base. Teach your ball players to watch the pitch. If it appears to be a low pitch, one that could hit the ground, teach them to be ready to take off if it gets by the catcher.
The coach is the person who communicates with parents, players, umpires, other coaches and your local associations. You facilitate the team by making sure all the equipment is there when it is needed. Most important are the players. You are teaching more than the skills and strategies of fastpitch. The ability to gracefully deal with success and failure, the persistence to keep trying and the confidence that these young ladies learn from you is priceless.
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